Issue 2 has been created, curated, edited, translated and designed in stolen moments. When managing my full time job through an apocalyptic second wave of the Covid-19 virus, the weekly meetings with Team Bilori where we brainstormed and strategised our next offering became a much needed respite.
In his new Netflix comedy special, Inside (2021), Bo Burnham sings, “Should I be joking at a time like this?” Should he? Should we? Should I be writing marketing copies at my job at a time like this? Should I be working on editing issues of a literature journal at a time like this?
The key to the answer of this question can perhaps be found in Zach DeWitt’s essay in this issue where he writes, “Numerous ghosts of the Great War still float in the air, like a breath, or a song. These spirits might represent both the people unequally buried, and the stories and poems unequally told. Any decolonial commemoration project must address and engage with both;” or in Vedika Kaushal’s essay where she writes, “The individual memory and recollection of Dinesh’s life, given to us by himself in a setting that reeks of universal injustice and grief, creates a profound collective memory that can contribute to his cultural identity. The telling of this brief tale encompasses a larger struggle against the consequences of war, political violence and the day-to-day fight for survival;” or in Puja Basu’s essay where she writes, “The collective memories of migration and shared histories of trauma came to define Caribbean identities as culturally and linguistically hybrid. The linguistic hybridity, especially, has emerged as one of the most uniquely defining characteristics of Caribbean literary forms.”
These essays remind us that the human literary instinct survives and thrives through violence, war, oppression and trauma, and that the human instinct to create literature then perhaps cannot be placed on any specific point on Maslow's hierarchy of needs. What is more Maslow-able, perhaps, is publishing, i.e. being able to curate a journal. But the instinct to write a poem survives across all human experience. The essays remind us that such literature should be curated, commemorated, and read by those who are at the luxury to do so.
We are immensely glad to be able to give you Issue 2 and proud to present to you a stellar collection of essays by Ganesh Visputay, Ayantika Nath, Jake Rickman, Puja Basu, Zach DeWitt and Vedika Kaushal.
Our journal is entirely volunteer-based and we request you to share and spread the essays you like as much as possible, so the efforts of our contributors and team get the audience they deserve.
Wishing you continued peace, joy and text,
Editor-in-Chief, Bilori Journal
At a time when everything feels utterly pointless, working on the second issue of Bilori Journal has been one of those few things that made sense to me. I'm relieved and grateful to have been able to hold on to reading and literature during these dark times. This issue is a labour of love, a love that I'm sure wasn't always easy to give away so willfully given the times we live in. I'm proud of our entire team for showing up and pulling this off.
The essays in this issue are an eclectic mix, but each one reflects the vision with which Bilori began, while simultaneously inspiring us to expand its scope. I feel honoured to have had the opportunity of editing some of them and I've learned so much. I'm grateful to all the writers who chose Bilori as a home for their words.
This time we've curated essays covering a wide range of topics, opening up newer avenues in our understanding of the project of decolonization, while also bringing attention to lesser known works of literature that deserve to be read and studied extensively. Ayantika's essay is a lovely piece of writing that takes us back to our childhoods, while also examining the peculiar reading habits of a child in India, revealing truths that remained shelved behind dusty books all our lives. Jake Rickman's essay is a wonderful exploration of a strange object, the McHenry-Harvey edition of Holland House, a text that offers a glimpse into the sensibilities of Anglo-Americans towards the 19th century. Issue 2 also features an interview with Ganesh Vispute, a brilliant translator and poet.
This issue is particularly close to my heart because of how it's allowed me to get to know our team members better. Our weekly meetings were something I looked forward to, and it has been a joy to witness each member of Bilori rising up to the occasion and creating this thing of beauty. Additionally, each essay that I've edited has taught me many things I hadn't been aware of before. The second issue of Bilori Journal was a treat to work on, and I hope it leaves our readers with something to think about as well.