Saturday, January 29, 2011

My article on YaliniDream in the Zeitgeist supplement to The New Indian Express

My article on YaliniDream in the Zeitgeist supplement to The New Indian Express, Saturday, 29 January 2010. I am sure it looks much better in the ePaper. Will post that as soon as it is available. Remember to come to the event at 7 pm today! Check the previous blogpost for more information on that!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

YaliniDream performs in Chennai!

The Shakti Resource Center for Gender and Sexuality and MP/

are delighted to invite you to  a workshop and performance by


 with Special Guest Accompaniment by L. Ramakrishnan on Veena

and Guest performances by Sharanya Manivannan & Shailja Patel

The performance will be followed by a discussion.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


SPACES, No. 1, Elliots Beach Road,

Besant Nagar, Chennai 600090

1:00 - 4:00pm- Workshop with Yalini Dream

7:00 - 8:00 pm- Performance and discussion

About YaliniDream:

Sri Lankan Blood, Manchester Born, Texas bred and Brooklyn steeped, YaliniDream is an artist, activist, and facilitator.   She conjures spirit through her unique blend of poetry, theater, song, and dance-- reshaping reality and seeking peace through justice in the lands of earth, psyche, soul, and dream. One of the South Asian American community’s most prominent performance poets, YaliniDream has toured nationally throughout the US as well as performing in Canada, England & Sri Lanka.  As a director & facilitator, YaliniDream works to bring under-represented voices to center stage through community based theater productions.  Through experimental collaboration she seeks to build artistic work that reflects the strength of communities while cherishing difference.   YaliniDream was the director and facilitator of Andolan’s Sukh aur Dukh ki Kahani--a storytelling project with Bangladeshi and Indian domestic workers in Queens, NY and facilitated theater workshops with OfERR for Sri Lankan Tamils living in refugee camps in India.  She has been a long term volunteer with the Audre Lorde Project's SOS(Safe Outside the System) Collective in Brooklyn working to address homophobic and transphobic violence against people of color.  YaliniDream is also a trained aerial dancer in corde lisse who loves to fly-- challenging notions of the seemingly impossible.


About the workshop: Art as a Tool for Community Organizing

On Saturday afternoon (29th January), from 1 to 4 pm, YaliniDream will facilitate a fun, interactive workshop for participants to explore the use of artistic methods as tools for community empowerment, activism, and social justice. Using writing, movement and voice exercises, participants will explore what stories they have to tell, explore how their bodies like to move, and reflect critically on how their personal experiences may be used to engage broader issues and realities.

About L. Ramakrishnan:

L. Ramakrishnan, known affectionately as Ramki to some, is an accomplished Veena player, in addition to being one of the founding members of MP/Orinam, and Country Director for Solidarity and Action Against the HIV Infection in India (SAATHII). Ramki’s interests include Nature Conservation, Human rights, Carnatic Music, Evolutionary Ecology, Behavior, Biostatistics, Gender Justice, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Poetry, Austin, Texas, and Pondicherry, not necessarily in order of significance.

About Sharanya Manivannan:

Sharanya Manivannan was born in India in 1985 and grew up in Sri Lanka and Malaysia. She is the author of a book of poems, Witchcraft (Bullfighter Books, 2008), which carries a foreword by Indran Amirthanayagam. The recipient of the Lavanya Sankaran Fellowship for 2008-2009 from the Sangam House International Writers’ Residency she is working on her first novel, Constellation of Scars, as well as a second collection of poems, Bulletproof Offering.  Iyari, a handmade chapbook of poems and illustrations, was published in 2006. Her column, “The Venus Flytrap”, appears fortnightly in Zeitgeist, the Saturday supplement of The New Indian Express.

Her solo show, Ochre As The Earth, held in June 2007, was a pioneering event in the Kuala Lumpur arts scene. As a spoken word artist, she has performed at dozens of venues in the last six years, from indie cafes to the Borobudur Temple in Indonesia.

She has  been a guest of the Utan Kayu International Literary Biennale 2007, Singapore Writers’ Festival 2007, Poetry With Prakriti 2007 , Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2008 and Wordstorm: The Festival of Australasian Writing 2010. She lives in India.

About Shailja Patel:

Shailja Patel was born and raised in Kenya, has lived in London and San Francisco, and now divides her time between Nairobi and Berkeley. Trained as a political economist, accountant and yoga teacher, she honed her poetic skills in performances that have received standing ovations on three continents. She has been described by the Gulf Times as "the poetic equivalent of Arundhati Roy" and by CNN as "the face of globalization as a people-centered phenomenon of migration and exchange". Patel has appeared on the BBC World Service, NPR and Al-Jazeera. Her work has been translated into twelve languages. She is a recipient of a Sundance Theatre Fellowship, an African Guest Writer Fellowship from the Nordic Africa Institute, the Fanny-Ann Eddy Poetry Award from IRN-Africa, the Voices of Our Nations Poetry Award, a Lambda Slam Championship, and the Outwrite Poetry Prize.

About The Shakti Resource Center for Gender and Sexuality

The Shakti Resource Center for Gender and Sexuality is a dynamic, volunteer-run collective that has been working out of Chennai since July 2007, and registered as a trust last year. Our vision is to create a world where individuals are free to question, and express their sexuality, to forge relationships based on reciprocity, equality and interdependence, and where rather than merely “adjusting” to an unjust world, are able to criticize the structures upon which their injustice and marginalization are premised. In achieving this vision, we believe not only in advocating for sexual rights as a small sexual minority population demanding recognition as “normal”. Rather, we wish to question the broader norms and structures that define what it means to be sexually normal, legal, decent and respectable in the first place. To this end, we advocate for policy change, create safe spaces for people to talk and think critically about gender and sexuality, and forge links with other social movements. As part of our broad queer vision, we work not only with gay men, lesbian and bisexual women, hijras, kothis, and trans individuals, but also with young women, survivors of sexual assault, teens desiring information about sexual health services, sex workers that suffer police violence, and a variety of other identities that may be shamed and criminalized based on inferences about their sexuality. Get in touch with us at

About MP/Orinam:
Initiated in October 2006, is a bilingual (Tamil and English) website with information on alternate sexualities and genders. We intend this space to speak to a wide range of people, including families and friends of those of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We anticipate that this site would also be useful for Indian, especially Tamil language, media seeking accurate and current information on alternate sexualities and genders. Finally, this site is for us, LGBT individuals of all stripes and colours, including those who do not identify with any of these categories but nevertheless fall outside mainstream expectations and conventions with respect to gender and sexuality. Get in touch at or check out


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Maatruveli - மாற்றுவெளி

I am totally thrilled that a special issue, on sexuality, of Maatruveli (மாற்றுவெளி), a Tamil academic journal, that my friend A Ponni and I have guest-edited, has been released and is available for sale! It has been a labour of love for Ponni and me. There are some little errors here and there, but on the whole the issue looks great. This is an important compilation of essays, interviews, and other writings in Tamil and translation on issues around sexuality.

If you are interested in buying a copy, please contact Parisal Book House பரிசல் புத்தக நிலையம்: +91 93828 53646 |

"மாற்றுவெளி" ஒரு தமிழ் ஆய்விதழ். பரிசல் புத்தக நிலையம் வெளியிடும் "மாற்றுவெளியின்" 6 ஆவது இதழ் "மாற்றுப்பாலியல் சிறப்பிதழ்." இதனை தொழி அ. பொன்னியும் நானும் அழைப்பாசிரியர்களாக இருந்து தொகுத்துள்ளோம். இந்த இதழ் இப்பொழுது வெளியிடப்பட்டு விற்பனைக்கு உள்ளது. விவரங்களுக்கு பரிசல் புத்தக நிலையத்தைத் தொடர்புகொள்ளவும்: +91 93828 53646 |

  • தலையங்கம்: பாலியல்பின் அரசியல் (அ. பொன்னி & அனிருத்தன் வாசுதேவன்) Editorial: The Politics of Sexuality (A. Ponni & Aniruddhan Vasudevan)
  • பாலியல்பு, திருமணம், குடும்பம் (மீனா கோபால்) Sexuality, Marriage, Family (Meena Gopal)
  • உடல், பால்மை, பால் ஈர்ப்பு/ வேட்கை: அளிக்கைமை சார் குறியீடுகள் (அ. மங்கை) Body, Gender, Sexual Attraction/ Desire: Symbols of Performativity (A Mangai)
  • உடல், வன்முறை, உரிமை: இந்திய குற்றவியல் சட்டம் (திருத்தியமைப்பு) மசோதா 2010 ( அனிருத்தன் வாசுதேவன்) Body, Violence, Rights: Criminal Law (Amendment) Draft Bill 2010 (Aniruddhan Vasudevan)
  • விடுதலைப் பாதை (கௌதம் பான்) Path to Freedom (Gautham Bhan)
  • "கவியர்" பெண்களும் இந்தியச் சட்டமும் (அ.பொன்னி) Queer Women and Indian Law (A Ponni)
  • அரவானி/ திருநங்கை சமூகத்தினரின் அரசியலும் தமிழக அரசின் திட்டங்களும் (அனிருத்தன் வாசுதேவன்) Aravani/ Thiruvangai Activism and Policy changes implemented by the State Govt. of Tamil Nadu
  • தமிழகத்தில் ஓரினச் சேர்க்கைப் பெண்கள் (அ. பொன்னி) (Lesbian Women in Tamil Nadu)
  • On the Figure of the Prostitute in the works of G Nagarajan and D Jeyakanthan (Kiran Keshavamurthy)
  • கதை சொல்லல் எனும் உறவாடல் - மாயா சர்மாவுடன் ஒரு சந்திப்பு (அனிருத்தன் வாசுதேவன்)
  • மொழி, பாலினம் மற்றும் பாலீர்ப்பு (வ. கீதா)
கலை ஆக்கங்கள்:
  •  வான்மேகம் (ப்ரீதம் சக்கரவர்த்தி) On Indian films and Sexuality (Pritham Chakravarthy)
  • கவிதைகள் (பிரேமா ரேவதி & லிவிங் ஸ்மைல் வித்யா) Poems by Prema Revathi and Living Smile Vidya
  • பாலியல் சார் சொற்களஞ்சியம் (A Glossary of Terms related to Sexuality and Identity)
  • இந்திய தண்டனைச் சட்டம் - பிரிவு 377 (Indian Penal Code - Section 377)
  • மாற்றுப் பாலியல் இயக்கம் - நிகழ்வுகள் (Queer Movement - Key Happenings)
  • தமிழ் இலக்கணம் மற்றும் இலக்கியங்களில் மாற்றுப் பாலியல் பதிவுகள் (கா. அய்யப்பன்) Registers of Alernative Sexuality in Tamil Grammar and Literature  (K. Ayyappan)
  • மாற்றுப் பாலியல்: நூல்கள் மற்றும் குறும்படம் (ஜ. சிவக்குமார்) Alternative Sexuality: Books and Short Films (G. Sivakumar)

Wislawa Szymborska - another attempt at a translation

குறிப்பு: விஸ்வாவா சிம்போர்ஸ்காவின் கவிதைகளின் மீது எனக்குள்ள அதீத பிரியம் குறித்து என் நண்பர்கள் பலருக்குத் தெரியும். போலிஷ் மொழியில் எழுதும் இவரது அற்புதமான கவிதைகள் சிலவற்றையும், 1996 ஆம் ஆண்டு இலக்கியத்திற்கான நோபல் பரிசு இவருக்கு வழங்கப்பட்ட பொழுது இவர் ஆற்றிய ஏற்புரையையும் ஆங்கிலத்திலிருந்து தமிழில் நான் மொழிபெயர்த்துள்ளேன். இவற்றை காலச்சுவடு இதழ் வெளியிட்டுள்ளது. அவற்றிற்கான இணைப்புகள் இங்கே:
"ஆனால் கவிதைப் பேராசிரியர் என்று எவரும் இல்லை" - விஸ்வாவா சிம்போர்ஸ்காவின் நோபல் பரிசு ஏற்புரை

விஸ்வாவா சிம்போர்ஸ்காவின் கவிதைகள் சில தமிழில்
ஸ்டானிஸ்லாவ் பாரன்ழாக் மற்றும் க்லேய்ர் கவனா ஆகிய இருவரும் இவரது கவிதைகளை போலிஷ் மொழியிலிருந்து ஆங்கிலத்தில் சிறப்பாக மொழிபெயர்த்திருக்கிறார்கள். இவர்களது ஆங்கில மொழிபெயர்ப்புகளை ஒட்டியே நான் தமிழில் மொழிபெயர்ப்பு செய்ய முயற்சி செய்கிறேன். பொதுவாக மொழிபெயர்ப்பு என்கிற பணி குறித்தும், கவிதைகளை மொழிபெயர்க்க முடியுமா என்பது குறித்தும், மிகுந்த உணர்வெழுச்சி மற்றும் இலக்கிய அன்பு ஆகியவற்றை மட்டுமே அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டு எழும் எனது மொழிபெயர்ப்புகளின் தரம் குறித்தும் அதிகம் விவாதிக்கலாம். பிரச்சனை ஒன்றும் இல்லை. சில படைப்புகளைத் தரமான விதத்தில் தமிழில் கிடைக்கச் செய்ய வேண்டும் என்பதே குறிக்கோள்.

இப்பொழுது சிம்போர்ஸ்காவின்  "An Opinion on the Question of Pornography" என்ற கவிதையை தமிழில் வழங்க முயற்சி செய்துள்ளேன். சிம்போர்ஸ்காவைப் பொறுத்தவரை நான் கைப்பற்ற முயல்வது கிண்டலான அவரது தொனியையும் அதிலிருந்து வரும் ஒருவித விமர்சனத் தன்மையுடன் கூடிய நகைச்சுவை உணர்வையுமே:
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Becoming my Mother

Lovely Sunday morning. With my morning coffee, I am listening to Sanjay Subrahmanyam singing Janani Reethigowlai raagam. On 31 December, I went to Sanjay's concert at Kalakshetra. It was divine. When he sang Janani Ninuvina, I melted away. They had to scrape me off the floor after the concert!

It is absolutely weird how I behave at concerts and performances by my favourite artists. They could be veterans in what they are doing, but that does not stop me from taking on great pressure and anxiety for them. It is absolutely ridiculous. For instance, before a concert of Sanjay' Subrahmanyam's on New Year's Eve, I was terribly anxious that everything should go well, that Sanjay should have a great concert, that the accompanying artists should be in their elements, that it should be one of those days when everything fell into place from the word go. I felt like a mother. It was absolutely silly. At some point I caught myself doing this, and told myself, "Hey! This is his concert. He knows what to do. Why am I such a bundle of nerves for him!"

You should see me during the first fifteen minutes or so into a concert. I feverishly look around at the faces of the people in the audience, trying to make sure everyone's enjoying it. Of course, all that I end up doing is to  distract them and draw attention to myself by thus fidgeting in my seat. People shoot me various kinds of looks, but it's mostly like, "What's with this man?!" But, at some point, the music takes over and manages to quiet down all my neuroses, and I get lost in the music. But until then, I am positively ridiculous.

I really pity this new friend who had come with me to the concert. I had met him some days before the concert, and he had mentioned that he was looking to explore the Chennai music season a little bit. So there he was with me at Sanjay Subrahmanyam's concert. So I added another layer of unwanted anxiety: I was also super anxious that he should like Sanjay's music! Feeling very keen that he should not feel bored and stay at the concert only on my account, I turned to him after every piece to let him know that we could leave any minute. He finally got sick and tired of my neurotic behaviour and asked me to shut up. Well, very nicely and politely!

Basically, this is what I realize. I am becoming my mother! Last night, when I spoke to my father with the dosai karandi (ladle) in my hand, I heard myself saying, "Appa, you should have finished that. Now I cannot put that much into a small cup and keep it in the fridge." Then I stopped myself and exclaimed, "Ayyo! I sound like amma, don't I?" Appa just grinned!

Thrilled at this mention in a review!

In December 2010, I had a wonderful experience performing nattuvangam for an ensemble presentation of Sapta Sapti, choroegraphed by my Guru Smt Chitra Visweswaran. I am thrilled at having got a good mention of my nattuvangam work in a review in The Hindu: "...the versatile nattuvanar, Aniruddhan Vasudevan, himself a student of Guru Chitra, who handled the rhythms with ease." 

Go HERE for the full review of the performance by Smt Chitra Visweswaran and the dancers of Chidambaram Academy of Performing Arts.

Interview in

A interview of mine appeared in before my 2010 performance tour of the US with my work And She Said, developed and performed in collaboration with my wonderful friend Lakshmi Sriraman

பாலியல் கல்வி: மனிதர்கள் மீண்டும் குழந்தைகளாகும் கனவு

I forgot to post this Tamil article of mine that appeared in the July 2010 issue of Kalachuvadu Magazine: பாலியல் கல்வி: மனிதர்கள் மீண்டும் குழந்தைகளாகும் கனவு 

If you are interested in looking at some of my other Tamil articles, please go HERE for the links.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On Falling

This past week alone, I witnessed three minor mishaps that involved motorbikers skidding on roads, and falling. In all these instances, what was striking was how urgently they picked themselves up, avoided looking at anyone around, kicked the bikes with all their might, and sped away. Having had more than my share of such falls, I think I know how it might have felt. We feel there is something so hugely embarrassing about falling when others are watching, that we will even amble on a broken ankle to make them believe that we are alright, we are very dignified. I remember, I once kick-started my bike with a bleeding foot, rode away, and stopped a few streets away to examine the damage.

Is there such shame in falling? I wonder if we feel similarly about other kinds of falling too -- failure, being slandered, losing power, money, social capital, etc. When all the inspiration mantras of the age are about valorously picking oneself up after a fall and charging ahead, what is the space where the fall itself could be acknowledged with dignity and respect? It seems that in popular consciousness it is only the quickness of the rise after the fall, the nanosecond bounce-back, which accords any respect to the fall at all. If you ever fall at a colossal scale, you either better have a great, noble story behind that, or work towards becoming a success story by springing back to action ASAP!

Of course, no one in their right minds would romanticize falling this way. But what is it that associates such shame to that instance? Just half an hour spent watching a TV show on allegedly funny videos from across the world shows that an accidental fall appears to provide for great entertainment and laughter. You are thought to be of good cheer if you can crack a joke about your own fall and laugh it off. Sometimes we are so scared of becoming objects of such mirth that we try to pre-empt it with a forced joke.

The anxiety is about how we look in other people's eyes when we thus fall. We could be perfect nobodys prior to that moment, not even noticed as we ride our wheezing two-wheelers, trying to avoid a crazy 90degree turn that only an autorickshaw can do. We might think of ourselves as having merged with the thronging masses on the roads. And then a fall makes us visible. Not a great moment to have the spotlight on us; agreed. But it brings alive everyone around us, too. In just a moment, it turns some people into Good Samaritans; from some others, it elicits a profound comment about how all that young people today want is speed, speed speed...; it also draws, for just a flicker of a moment, outrage about poor civic maintenance and puddles on the road.

A fall, whoever’s it is, seems to be a very dramatic moment. Everyone witnessing it feels compelled to take a position in relation to that event. Something has to be done; at least a gesture of wanting to help. Something has to be said, even if it is to this other perfect stranger walking next to you. It is a very human moment. So we don't have to feel so bad after all. Everyone knows how it feels to fall. If they act like they don't, they have perhaps just forgotten.