A poet, fiction writer and translator, Srilata is Associate Professor of English at the Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras. Srilata was a Charles Wallace Writer-in-residence at the University of Stirling, Scotland in 2010. She was also a Sangam house writer-in-residence. Her debut novel Table for Four, long listed in 2009 for the Man Asian literary prize, was published by Penguin in July 2011. Srilata won the first prize in the All India Poetry competition 1998 organised by the British Council and the Poetry Society, India for her poem “In Santa Cruz, Diagnosed Homesick”, the Gouri Majumdar poetry prize instituted by The Brown Critique in the year 2000 and the Unisun British Council poetry award 2007. Her work has been featured in The BloodAxe Anthology of Indian Poets, Penguin India’s First Proofs, Fulcrum, The Little Magazine, Kavya Bharati and The Hindu. Writers Workshop, Kolkata recently published her collection of poems titled Arriving Shortly. Her books include The Other Half of the Coconut: Women Writing Self-Respect History (Zubaan/Kali for Women, 2003), Short Fiction from South India (co-edited with Subashree Krishnaswamy and published by OUP in 2007), Rapids of a Great River: The Penguin Book of Tamil Poetry (co-edited with Lakshmi Holmstrom and Subashree Krishnaswamy and published in 2009 by Penguin/Viking India) and an anthology of poetry titled Seablue Child (Brown Critique, Kolkata, 2000).
I was drowning
in a river of clichés
when it ran dry,
into the swirling, breathless eddies of a
that ought to have arrived words ago.
The same evening, an old fisherman
counted forty dead words
from the preceding stanza and
one reeeely eely long river snake
which, he remarked later,
was the spitting image of those
that peered at him
from the pages
of his grandson’s English text book.
A Pair of Very Flat Feet
I meet them
in a shop selling orthotics,
my future arches,
paid companions to my very flat feet.
in my pretend feet,
to the days when I had proper ones,
feet with which
to run on grass,
feeling the sharp tang of each blade,
of metrical feet
and all the stuff
my poetry teacher threw at me.
and the family is watching,
Olympics 2012 live on TV
as beautiful red-lipsticked Russian gymnasts
with perfect arches
twist and fly arcs in the air
with the annoying lightness of robins.
I swear softly
and go to bed,
pursued by pair upon pair of perfect feet,
I slip into yet another of my pointless dreams.
In this one,
I am a pirouetting ballet dancer
in Pointe shoes.