JLRB Press is a small-run imprint that specia­lizes in poetry, with a strong emphasis on queer and neuro­divergent voices and emerg­ing writers.

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Smoked Frames

S. Rupsha Mitra


The cover of Smoked Frames
Rupsha's debut poetry col­lection is more than meets the eye: It be­gins as an arcane tour of Indian heritage sites—divine desti­nations that soothe and con­found—and deve­lops in­to a study of the nature of memory and the ana­tomy of fantasy and passion; love and em­bodi­ment; belong­ing, identity, and the repre­sen­tation of self. In its rich ex­ploration of psy­chological in­teriority, Smoked Frames pre­sents the notion of the alternate self, a state in which one at times feels alien to one's own being and at other times senses a close kinship to it.

This ambivalent identity is inscribed in the com­petition between the poet's imagination and the hazy memories of the past that colour her ex­periences: In one moment, we might be given a tour of the Hazarduari Palace in Murshi­dabad and the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, and in another ins­tant we may watch mermaids swim near the seabed. Or we might be privy to a Saraswati Puja celebration where, alongside the poet­, we may wish for the wherewithal to describe all that we have seen.

Rupsha explains,

I first conceived of Smoked Frames after I began to receive generous comments from editors such as Aekta Kapoor and Demetra Davis and literary touchpoints for my work such as eShe Magazine and the BLACC Poetry Contest. It was this positive reinforcement, together with my grandmother's frequent encourage­ment and support of my love for the written word, that motivated me to put together this book. It is why I dedicate this collection to my grandmo­ther and late grandfather.

I wrote the poems in this collection between 2020 and 2023. From odes to solitude to pieces exploring family dy­namics, each of these poems is close to my heart. The combined effect of these pieces immerses my readers in a poetic journey through Indianness itself, a space heavily steeped in history and culture (at times com­pletely new to my readers in the West). I hope that those who engage with this book might feel lost in a sense of wonder as they peer through these Smoked Frames.

Genres: poetry

Themes: culture, spirituality, identity