In the domain of nihilism, as a consequence of reading Kolakowski’s essay, EKL Review was conceived as a self-ingesting reaction of Rhythm Divine Poets’ five years of activity leading to a shift from “stockism” (sometimes even populism) towards “avant-gardism”. It was the need and the time to imagine against the grain and we did not want one more “your-friendly-next-door-neighbor” journal. So when Jagari Mukherjee found the metaphorical gold mine in her career of prospecting in academia she decided to be the Coxswain of EKL Review. Linda Ashok was called on board as Web Designer and the Vanguard, which includes Sufia Khatoon, Anindita Bose and Nikita Parik, set sail as prospectors of wonder. Soon many Driftwoods got added to the venture.
Imagining against the grain, as the byline of the journal goes, defines avant-gardism, but in praxis it is either the deletion of a parameter of comprehension or an addition of a parameter of perception to a text that makes it avant-garde. The entire prose section of the journal’s first issue (Prolifera 1) is a manifesto in that regard. We combine the medium of storytelling through words with the medium of video art and produce a story appearing as subtitles over moving images instead of a static background. This is the quintessential “papyrus to paper” moment in history. We take up Nirad C. Chaudhuri’s 1979 book Hinduism: A Religion to Live By and interpret Nirad babu’s exposition of Jayadeva’s Gita-Govinda as an argument for the parameter of sound in poetry functioning as a synaesthetic component of imagery.
The conception of fiction came into vogue when travel writers started fabricating their travel stories and the early novels of Defoe and Swift were born. Arjun Rajendran too does something of the same order. He writes the proverbial “Chanticleeric and Taurean” text, an irreverent account which is in fact a fantasy, thereby, mixing the two genres of memoir and fiction and disturbing the borders separating them. His piece is the longest in the prose section as an exception for being exceptional. Jagari Mukherjee imagines a text in three dimension using hypertext and her review of Keith Taylor’s book appears as a concise text where the words are hyperlinked giving an agency of depth by expanding the text not in length but in a different dimension of interpretations, allusions, symbolism and intertextuality. While Jagari adds an extra parameter of perceiving a text, Sufia Khatoon deletes a parameter of perception in her conception of a composition which negates the composer. In Sufia’s Anti-Preface the subject of her poem “The Pomegranate Tree” speaks for itself. Language is abstract and the characteristics of language are all the more elusive to perceive. Nikita Parik imagines the 1970s French cartoon character Barbapapa as a metaphor for the malleability of language.
This avant-gardism in praxis is Nietzschean in conception where we are constantly exposing a vacuum and filling it up. Nietzsche declared the death of god, exposed a “nihilism”, and filled it up with a “superman” born of a Dionysian spirit. EKL Review’s avant-garde project follows the same process. Dustin Pickering writes a non-fiction piece on Nietzsche. Patrick Gibson produces a flash fiction in that same spirit.
If the prose section is mostly commissioned, the poetry section is entirely curated and the names themselves attest to the fact that the conception of this journal has been truly imagined against the grain. We are grateful to George Szirtes, Annie Finch, Ilya Kaminsky, Keith Taylor, Rota, Mike Zhai, Scott Beal and Tarfia Faizullah for their contributions.
We will continue to curate poetry and commission prose pieces for the second issue too and expect to open up for general submissions subsequently. But with the first two issues setting the manifesto the submissions are expected to be rather interventionist in nature, that is, they have to be imagined against the grain. They can be whacky and tongue-in-cheek but also need to be scholarly.
Basically some chutzpah is needed for discovering the wonder of rhetoric and inditing the rhetoric of wonder.
Amit Shankar Saha