An AI breakthrough that may mean curtains for poets, journalists…and me

by Rashmee

Posted on July 23, 2020 / The Focus


I was very taken by economics professor Tyler Cowen’s recent rundown on an Artificial Intelligence (AI) breakthrough that will allow computers to offer services we would normally expect from a reasonably well-educated writer. Cowen described GPT-3, the third generation of language prediction model, as follows: “GPT-3 can converse at a conceptual level, translate language, answer … Continue reading “An AI breakthrough that may mean curtains for poets, journalists…and me”

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Ever tried Ramadan in a poem?

by Rashmee

Posted on May 6, 2019


I was very taken by Libyan-American Khaled Mattawa’s poem, which bears the simple title ‘Ramadan’. “This month the moon becomes a princess,” he writes, “The stars fan her,/ Jupiter pours cups of wine,/ Mars sings melancholy mawals./ Bearded men holding prayer beads and yellow booklets stare at her/ and point aching fingers at her waist.” … Continue reading “Ever tried Ramadan in a poem?”

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A Chinese poet in the US faces his shadows

by Rashmee

Posted on September 1, 2018


I wonder what Ha Jin, a Chinese poet who stayed back in the US after the Tiananmen Square massacre, feels about all the talk of worsening Sino-US relations. Perhaps he takes it in his stride – the fact that the country of his birth and the one he has adopted are squaring up for a … Continue reading “A Chinese poet in the US faces his shadows”

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Can a poem be as deadly as a tank?

by Rashmee

Posted on August 5, 2018 / The Arab Weekly


A poem has certainly never stopped a tank, Nobel literature laureate Seamus Heaney once wrote, but the Israeli government seems to disagree. It appears to believe there is a mighty combustible charge contained within a poem and that the poet is rather like a tank commander. On July 31, Arab-Israeli Dareen Tatour was convicted for … Continue reading “Can a poem be as deadly as a tank?”

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A Midwestern grin and a poem about the TSA. Amit Majmudar is clearly no ABCD

by Rashmee

Posted on December 12, 2016


Reading Amit Majmudar’s poem ‘T.S.A.’, named after that unwieldy monster post-9/11 organisation, America’s Transportation Security Administration, I kept looking for traces of the A.B.C.D. Which is to say that piteous creature in between worlds called the American Born Confused Desi. A “desi” is a South Asian and the rest is self-explanatory. But Dr Majumdar’s poem … Continue reading “A Midwestern grin and a poem about the TSA. Amit Majmudar is clearly no ABCD”

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A poem a day. Or how the oneness of the world – and self – can be poetically brought about

by Rashmee

Posted on October 24, 2016


Hannah Arendt, the theorist who looked deep into the heart of political darkness, once said that a metaphor plays a crucial role in a poem. It is “the means by which the oneness of the world is poetically brought about”. John Donne’s rising sun, for instance, hails the star thus: “She is all states, and … Continue reading “A poem a day. Or how the oneness of the world – and self – can be poetically brought about”

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In the republic of poetry, there will be no one dislocated from history

by Rashmee

Posted on March 14, 2016


Can poetry ease an immigrant’s sense of dislocation? Only to the extent that it might help understand it a bit better. Martin Espada, who is one of my favourite modern poets (see his ‘The Republic of Poetry’ below) is a Puerto Rican writer from New York. He describes himself as “doubly dislocated: first, there is dislocation … Continue reading “In the republic of poetry, there will be no one dislocated from history”

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What does a poet do with history? They parse it so it’s no longer a souvenir

by Rashmee

Posted on August 18, 2015


Last week, it was that time of year again – when Indians and Pakistanis recall W. H. Auden’s 26-line poem on the partition of India, written with the clarity of hindsight nearly two decades after the sub-continent was divided up. It would be in the great tradition of poems that recreated history: Yeats’s ‘Easter 1916’, … Continue reading “What does a poet do with history? They parse it so it’s no longer a souvenir”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK