There were really two reasons why I started working today on re-starting DesiLit's magazine. The first reason is simple -- people want it. I ran a survey a few months ago, to see what the public would like DesiLit to do, and overwhelmingly, people wanted one of two things. If they were in Chicago, they wanted me to restart the reading series and put on the Kriti Festival again. That's in the works, hopefully for next year. Everyone else wanted DesiLit magazine to come back. We'd published six issues, and the the press of life took me away from fund-raising, and Sumita Sheth away from editing, so we went on hiatus. We always intended to come back, but the months just kept passing. Until I ran the survey, I wasn't sure anyone actually cared.
It turned out people did care. Awesome. So okay, now I knew there was a desire for the magazine. And I even had a whole set of reasons why I thought it was important for DesiLit's magazine to exist. But what I didn't have yet was an urgency, something to make me move this project to the top of the to-do list. That urgency came from boxes.
Specifically, unpacking boxes. We moved in a year ago, and I'm still unpacking boxes. A few days ago, I unpacked the box containing all my issues of Catamaran. You may not know Catamaran, but they were awesome. A literary magazine for South Asian American writing, they published me and a whole host of other writers. They made beautiful little journals, and I enjoyed reading them mightily. They entertained me, they informed me, they made my own writing better. I even subscribed. And then, sadly, they lost enough of their funding that they had to close.
Unpacking those issues and putting them on my shelf is what made me actually start working on DesiLit's magazine again. Because as far as I know, there is no widely-known, English-language, serious literary magazine that publishes the very best of South Asian and diaspora writing. And I think there should be. I want to read it; I want to subscribe to it. And if it's not out there, well, I guess we'll just have to invent it.
RIP Catamaran. Maybe you'll get a chance to resurrect yourself someday; I hope so. But in the meantime, we'll try to carry on your tradition.