Prufrock comes to Mumbai! “The Love Song of K. Anand Kak” by L K Sharma now available for purchase!

The above image by yours truly of J. Alfred Prufrock walking along Marine Drive in Mumbai is featured on the cover of a new book by the Indian author L K Sharma.

“The Love Song of K. Anand Kak” is the wonderfully poetic and impassioned account of a modern-day Indian Prufrock’s struggles to confess his feelings to the object of his affection against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic.

The book is now available for purchase as an e-book on as well as on Get your copy today!

Below is a brief summary of the book by the author:

“J. Alfred Prufrock is teleported to Bombay a century later. Old habits die hard. He is shy of women and craves for love. New Eliot makes him sing a Love Song to one who is anxious about the descent of India. So, doubt-stricken Prufrock makes no headway. A pandemic appears like deus ex machina and transforms Prufrock’s love life but only for a night. A new age, not imagined by T. S. Eliot, dawns. A Real Unreal City rises in the Pingdom of Love. AL (Artificial Lover) uses a smartphone with speech recognition system updated by LBL (Love Development Lab). Kissing through Zoom is not Prufrock’s idea of love. Mermaids stop singing to Prufrock who remembers
he has to drown.”

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Views of an Imaginary City 22: World Gardens in Rateliska Sesquicentennial Park

The Sesquicentennial Park on the island of Rateliska was created to commemorate the one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the transfer of the imperial capital to Sensuka. In many ways, it represents the then newly-crowned Emperor Ojori III’s desire to outdo Cherufi Park, which had been laid out fifty years earlier by the empress Aritokèh to commemorate the centennial of the same event (See n. 14). However, whereas Cherufi had been intended as a representation and a celebration of all of the many diverse regions of the empire, Ojori wished for his new park to emphasize the empire’s role within a global context. The main portion of the park was therefore laid out as the “World Gardens,” in which each section would be themed around a different country. The area representing the empire, naturally enough, would be placed at the very centre.

Somewhat complicating the realization of this project was the fact that the empire had by this time been almost completely shut off from the outside world for over a hundred years. The committee of architects, artists, and gardeners assembled to design the park thus had nothing but very vague and incomplete notions about each of the featured countries. The result is that the World Gardens bear only the most tenuous relationship with any external geographic or cultural reality. The Italy Garden, for instance, is conceived around the premise that Italian cities are built on water, upon which the floating buildings move about like boats, forming ever-shifting urban configurations to best meet citizens’ needs throughout the day. This area of the park therefore consists of an artificial pond, in which various miniature buildings, including an impressive leaning amphitheatre, bob about amid the ducks and koi fish. The United States section is inspired by tales of a vast city made up entirely of castles, towering up against each other. A topiary representation of a portion of this city is fronted by a scaled-down replica of the many-horned green goddess setting a torch to the world.

The foreground of the print depicts one of the most enchanting sections of the park, the Russia Garden. These are built on a terraced hillock that is meant to recall the layout of Matrioscow, Russia’s capital city (According to reports, the first layer of habitations behind the outer fortifications of this city is followed by a second line of walls enclosing a second, slightly smaller layer of habitations, followed by another line of walls, and so on, all the way to the domed temple behind the innermost fortress, which owing to this position, as though at the core of an onion, is known as the Onion Dome). Running along the edge of each of the five rising terraces of the Russia Garden is a circular channel of water. The channels are populated with swans—a nod to the special place held by these birds in the hearts of the Russian people, who believe them to be the reincarnations of departed women.

(Side note: This particular vignette is largely inspired by the 1967 Montreal Expo as well as by the countless souvenir postcards of the event. When Montreal was still full of antique shops, I remember one would often come across whole boxes of these strangely flattened, orangey visions of an imaginary future.)

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Video of “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop

Another brilliant “vidiette” by Jim Avis, based on my comics adaptation of Elizabeth Bishop’s famous villanelle, “One Art.” The video features audio and footage from a very spirited reading of the poem by Sophia Wilcott.

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Views of an Imaginary City 15: Hot Air Lantern Display

For centuries, it has been a tradition throughout the empire to mark the eve of Midsummer (considered to be the first new moon after the summer solstice) with a nighttime display of takarnalu. These are paper lanterns mounted around a source of heat, which causes them to fill with hot air and rise high into the sky. Originally, these takarnalu were small paper lanterns containing a lit candle, but as time went on, they became ever larger and more elaborate. They now tend to be around the size of hot air balloons, which indeed they essentially are, only that they are always unmanned and constructed out of a heavy but translucent paper material. In Sensuka, takarnalu are now fashioned in a limitless variety of fantastical shapes, and a big attraction of the summer displays is seeing what ingenious and amusing new designs the organizers have prepared for the occasion.

The takarnalu are tethered with very long ropes to barges in the middle of Sensuka Harbour, in such a way as to be visible from almost any location in the central neighbourhoods of the city. Given the pronounced slope of the terrain and the architectural style of the buildings, this print would appear to show a view of the lantern display from Labeosti Hill. The balcony in the foreground is furnished with a temporary structure known as a sakamo, a kind of small, airy linen tent which Sensukans will set up on their balcony or rooftop so as to have a cooler and better ventilated place to sleep on very hot summer nights. The empty cups, wine jar, and discarded sandals indicate that two people were watching the lantern display from the balcony. They have not waited until the end of the show, however, to retire into the tent.

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My Painting in the Hope International Online Art Exhibition 2021

I’m honoured to have my painting “View of an Imaginary City: The Terenfi Canal” included in the Hope International Online Art Exhibition 2021 (organized by Karkhana Art Space), alongside so many amazing works of art by artists from all over the world. You can view my painting along with a selection of the works of other featured artists in this YouTube video:

Hope International online art exhibition 2021/ video part-9/ Karkhana art space virtual art show – YouTube

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Proust’s Madeleine – An illustration of “À la Recherche du temps perdu”

A watercolour illustrating the most iconic passage in the seemingly endless and endlessly beautiful collection and analysis of memories that is Marcel Proust’s multi-volume novel, “À la Recherche du temps perdu” (“In Search of Lost Time”).

“Et tout d’un coup le souvenir m’est apparu. Ce goût c’était celui du petit morceau de madeleine que le dimanche matin à Combray […] ma tante Léonie m’offrait après l’avoir trempé dans son infusion de thé ou de tilleul. La vue de la petite madeleine ne m’avait rien rappelé avant que je n’y eusse goûté […]. Mais, quand d’un passé ancien rien ne subsiste, après la mort des êtres, après la destruction des choses, seules, plus frêles mais plus vivaces, plus immatérielles, plus persistantes, plus fidèles, l’odeur et la saveur restent encore longtemps, comme des âmes, à se rappeler, à attendre, à espérer, sur la ruine de tout le reste, à porter sans fléchir, sur leur gouttelette presque impalpable, l’édifice immense du souvenir. Continue reading

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“Waiting” by Raymond Carver

In honour of Valentine’s Day, here is my comics adaptation of the final portion of a very romantic poem by Raymond Carver, “Waiting,” The poem seems particularly appropriate on this Valentine’s Day, when we all find ourselves waiting, in one way or the other, for the return of so many of the things that give meaning to our existence–including the quest for those things.

This comic was done as a commission for someone in Italy, and the text featured on the actual physical pages is a translation of the poem into Italian (the language of love, mais oui!). I’m including that version below. The excellent translation is by Riccardo Duranti and Francesco Duranti. Continue reading

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Views of an Imaginary City 15: Imperial Water Riding Club on Golangolu

The Imperial Water Riding Club is a prestigious private club dedicated to the aristocratic sport of water riding—the riding of horses while they are swimming. The association’s palatial clubhouse sits on the shores of Golangolu (“Long Lake”), the largest of the interconnected lakes at the northern end of the city that are collectively referred to as the “four silver pendants.”

For the many homeless people who populate the parkland around Golangolu, the clubhouse offers a number of benefits. In particular, the massive wooden pier—which serves as a viewing platform during aquatic horse races—is partly built over dry land, and thus constitutes a good shelter for sleeping. This space is an especially welcome option during the sweltering summer months, as the lake waters have a pronounced cooling effect. Furthermore, the clubhouse’s architecture—which combines Sensukan and Swiss elements in a style known as “Imperial Chalet”—is characterized by widely projecting eaves, and these provide ample protection from the elements. While it is generally too risky to attempt to sleep against the walls of the main building, where one may be easily discovered by the night watchman, the outlying buildings share in this same architectural feature, and are far less guarded. Of course, if one is able to gain entry to the clubhouse barn, the warm air and soft hay render it ideal winter sleeping quarters. Continue reading

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“One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop

My comics adaptation of one of Elizabeth Bishop’s (1911-1979) last and most beautiful poems, “One Art,” first published in 1976. The poem is a villanelle, and there is something about the highly structured rhyme scheme of this verse form that to me always seems to give these works a bit of a game-like quality (which is not to say the emotions expressed therein can’t be very serious and powerful, as this particular poem demonstrates). This element of ordered playfulness suggested my imagining of the poem as a kind of Monopoly/Chutes and Ladders board game board.

There are very few digital elements in this comic. The drawings were inked on arrangements of pieces of differently-coloured Bristol board and the slides, ladders, and Monopoly houses are painted Bristol board cut-outs which I glued onto the page.

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Views of an Imaginary City 11: Along the Terenfi Canal

The Nachilaterenfi (“Canal of Flowers”) connects the Imperial Canal to Rejoma Bay. It is so named because, in its early days, before its surroundings became one of the most built-up areas of the capital, the banks of the canal were covered with wild flowers. Opened in the reign of the empress Nanéh, the Terenfi’s importance as a commercial artery was short-lived, supplanted by the creation of the Tizabu Canal a few decades later (See n. 32). However, because the older canal permitted merchants working in the city centre a rapid and discreet access to the area via covered boat, the neighbourhood around the Terenfi became known for its upscale houses of pleasure. The women and men offering their services in these establishments came to be known as “canal flowers.” Many Sensukans are under the belief that it is this trade that gave the Nachilaterenfi its name. With time, these brothels were joined by theatres, and then restaurants, shops of all kinds, chocolate teahouses, and so on, until the Terenfi had emerged as Sensuka’s premier entertainment district, and a go-to destination for all tourists to the imperial capital. Continue reading

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