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Where We Find Ourselves

Disclaimer: One of the pieces in this anthology was written by a member of our team

Where We Find Ourselves: Poems and Stories of Maps and Mapping from UK Writers of the Global Majority, published by the award-winning Arachne Press, is an exciting collection of new writing from over forty different UK writers, many of whom are of South Asian heritage.

Self-identifying as Asian, Bangladeshi, British Asian, British Indian, British Sri Lankan, British Pakistani, Indian, Mixed Race, South Asian, Tamil and more, this diverse group of writers cover a wide range of subjects. These include home, identity, colonial history, diaspora, exile, finding and losing oneself, childhood, adulthood, family and friendship.

‘”won’t you stop and take a selfie with me?”

when did places of tragedy

start taking bookings for vanity?’

(Nikita Aashi Chadha, ‘Jallianwalla Bagh’)

For example, Nikita Aashi Chadha’s ‘Jallianwalla Bagh’ and Gita Ralleigh’s ‘Mermaid Visits the Archive’ are poems that excavate the past, and also question the way that we engage with it when it comes to using methods such as social media, selfies and archives.

Depart: bilingual with clammy palms and first-flier nerves. Arrive: tongue-tied, mouths filled with broken glass, shards of English.

(Rhiya Pau, ‘Departure Lounge’)

From shared histories to families ties, Rhiya Pau’s ‘Departure Lounge’ and Sharmini Sriskandarajah’s ‘My Sister’s Care Home Promises’ focus on the lengths to which families go in order to make better lives for themselves, and to try and care for their loved ones.

‘I wanted somebody, somewhere to know where I’d been, to be able to follow my trail’

(Anita Goveas, ‘Baseline Measurements’)

Trying to protect oneself and one’s own physical and personal spaces is also apparent in other pieces. Dipika Mummery’s ‘A Walk in the Countryside’, Anita Goveas’s ‘Baseline Measurements’ and Kavita A. Jindal’s ‘Cocoon Lucky’ all use the idea of journeys (big and small) to explore how travel can help us express and protect ourselves.

Yet I wondered,

if I could stretch my skin and blow up like a balloon,

could I fill a man’s space too?

(Mallika Khan, ‘A Man’s Space’)

In addition, Mallika Khan’s ‘A Man’s Space’, Mimi Yusuf’s ‘Journey to the Land Unknown’ and Sundra Lawrence’s ‘Summer ’95’ also cover what it’s like when female voices and spaces in particular are threatened, and what it’s like when our fears are realised and overcome.

Where We Find Ourselves… will take you on a journey from Beirut to Columbo, Port of Spain to the US/Mexican border and then to the Atlantic floor. You’ll travel to the Black Mother’s Yoga class, soar with a kite over Victoria Park and sail with Dutch colonial ships to China…

(Sandra A. Agard and Laila Sumpton, ‘Introduction’)

‘This a book that celebrates global majority writers…’ editors Sandra A. Agard and Laila Sumpton write in their introduction to the book, and it’s easy to see why. Where We Find Ourselves is a diverse and innovative collection that showcases the wealth of talent that we have in our desi and wider communities when it comes to telling our own stories, and we at Desi Reads highly recommend it.


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