Mrinalini Harchandrai is the author of A Bombay in My Beat, a collection of poetry that explores the soundtrack of the city, personal cadences, and jazz poetry. A writer mostly based in Mumbai, her poems have appeared in several literary journals, and her poem ‘The Slippers’ won first prize in The Barre (2017). She is Editor at Bombaykala Books.
1. Why A Bombay in my Beat?
I found that my themes kept circling the city and sound. When a place you inhabit starts, in turn, inhabiting your perception and reaction, for better or worse, it becomes an extension of yourself. The book is an exploration of this through an “auditory ekphrasis” stemming from a jazz and rock cultural milieu.
- Your poetry has evolved over the years. Do you agree? Explain.
Poetry is as organic as the poet. Even though a poet may have a thematic obsession, the detail of experience shows through leitmotifs, metaphors, and specified complexity. Over time, quite literally and metaphorically, things cease to be so black and white, and all your greys show.
- Mrinalini, what are your three favorite poems in the book?
‘City Cymatics,’ ‘Belly Bop,’ ‘Fever When You Hold Me Tight,’ ‘A Raga For The Blue Room,’ ‘Club Soda,’ ‘Surgery with Satchmo,’ ‘Kitchen Konkani,’ ‘Speeding on Marine Drive at 3 am’…. Is that three already?
- Mrinalini, talk about one particular memory that is buried in the pages of the book.
‘Making Out on the Terrace and All That Jazz.’
- Did you work toward any particular theme?
A major theme is an idea of seeking escape. Whether it is by the arts like writing and music, a getaway to nearby destinations like Nargol or Goa, or with people who many are of the bad or right or even bad-good variety. Closely intermingled with this idea of escape is a dissonance/harmony theme, whether it comes from the situational environment or an internal reflection.
- How did you know your manuscript is ready for publication?
When I finally got a publisher who seemed to connect with it. But then I was told, after a subsequent tenth round of edits, that I can’t refine it any further because the manuscript had to go print in time for the launch. Let’s face it; it never feels ready.
- Mrinalini, which contemporary poets are you reading now?
I love the sensibility of Priya Sarukkai Chabria. Besides her, there is Vinita Agrawal and Saima Afreen whose work I can happily get lost in.
- Any book/s of poems, in particular, you would recommend?
Not Springtime Yet by Priya Sarukkai Chabria
- If you had a chance for bartering your poems for anything, what would that be?
I would love to swap my poems for a house in the hills, but more realistically I’ve exchanged books with other poets, which is quite satisfying too.
- Three reasons why people should buy A Bombay In My Beat?
Your coffee will taste better. It’ll jazz up your bookshelf. And of course, you will become rich, literary speaking.
Buy A Bombay in my Beat by Mrinalini Harchandrai here.
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