While witnessing unfolding political horrors from India to the United States, the poets Rushi Vyas (Aotearoa-based) and Rajiv Mohabir (US-based) engage across 10,000 miles of sea and land in a poetic conversation. On a formal level, the poetic dialogue mines structures of some of the world's oldest Sanskrit poetry and infuses that form with language and images borrowed from news articles, radical essays, political demagogues, local surroundings, and songs from the Indian diaspora. What starts as a poetic experiment quickly becomes a poetic challenge to Right wing, nationalist projects calling for the death of minorities. These poems call for an end to Islamophobia, caste violence, gender violence, and nationalist rhetoric. Between Us, Not Half a Saint is an urgent response to virulent, oppressive conservatism, an answer to the rhetorical question: what can writing do in the face of fascism?
RAJIV MOHABIR is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press 2017, winner of the 2015 Kundiman Prize; Eric Hoffer Honorable Mention 2018) and The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books 2016, winner of the Four Way Books Intro to Poetry Prize, Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry in 2017), and translator of I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (1916) (Kaya Press 2019) which received a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant Award and the 2020 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the American Academy of Poets. His memoir received the 2019 Restless Books’ New Immigrant Writing Prize and is forthcoming 2021. Currently he is an Assistant Professor of poetry in the MFA program at Emerson College, translations editor at Waxwing Journal.
RUSHI VYAS is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection When I Reach For Your Pulse (Four Way Books, 2023). Rushi has been a two-time finalist for the National Poetry Series, Runner-Up for the 2020 Center for Book Arts Chapbook Contest, Runner-Up for the Indiana Review Poetry Prize, and Finalist for the Anzaldúa Poetry Prize. Born in Ohio, Rushi holds degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Colorado-Boulder and now lives in Aotearoa New Zealand where he is working toward his PhD in Literature at Te Whare Wānanga o Ōtākou / University of Otago. His poems have appeared in A Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa (AUP, 2021), Tin House, Adroit, Indiana Review, Redivider, Landfall (NZ), 32 Poems, Boulevard, Waxwing, The Offing, and elsewhere.