ShortBookandScribes #BlogTour #GuestPost by Sen Rajah, Author of Milk of the Moon @senrajahauthor @lazywriters
I’m so pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Milk of the Moon by Sen Rajah today. Sen has very kindly written a guest post for me to share with you today, all about his inspiration and why he chose to write such an unconventional novella. My thanks to Sen and Jake Lynn, The Lazy Writer’s Friend, for asking me to be a part of the tour.
“Unlike anything you have experienced this year, truly unique.”
In the midst of an existential crisis, poet and author, Sen Rajah stumbles blindly and emotionally empty into the world of Milk of the Moon. At a point when he has almost entirely lost any sense of self, this bright, young, tragic girl whispers her stories to him, weaving a tale as melodious as it is sad. Through her visits and comfort Rajah finds his way back, unfortunately by the time he recovers Milk is gone, leaving behind only fragments of her story.
The exhibition contained within these pages is part memoir, part poetry and part something entirely new. It explores themes of otherness and rootlessness, the colonialism of language and many more themes associated with being “a person without a country”. Each piece resonates with feeling, abstract and allusive, they beckon you to engage, not just to observe, but immerse yourself and read the artist, for as Milk of the Moon says, “only in the act of interpretation do any of us exist”.
Where my inspiration comes from and why I chose to write such an unconventional novella by Sen Rajah
I am an immigrant, an other. Having escaped a civil war I spent my childhood in a grey suburbia, in what I can only describe as a state inbetween life and death. I felt like a ghost, an unwanted memory, an unnecessary truth. Books were my first form of escape, they gave me a way to avert my eyes and thoughts from the difficult feelings that were bubbling up in me. I would spend hours living and reliving the lives of people on a page, being submersed, vanishing. I always wrote. Simple thoughts, some poems, then songs. but I never thought I wanted to put pen to paper. Books were sacred, precious and those who could create them were more than human. It wasn’t their ability to put together words I admired the most, it was the fact that they had a point of view, a story worth telling.
Fast forward a good few years of being knocked about by life. I was unexpectedly given the opportunity to travel back to the country of my birth, however, the journey back wasn’t what I expected it to be There was no instant connection with the land, my family were familiar but nothing more, nothing less. They told me horror stories, ghost stories, they told me love stories. They didn’t care about identity or belonging, all they cared about was survival. I felt as if I was watching the world go by through dirty glass, as if it was a hallucination, as if I was an exile from everywhere.
It was on the bus back to the airport that I heard her voice. A judder and a jump of the wheels literally unloosed those first words “I am Milk of the Moon”, and as the sentence faded I saw her clearly sitting before me, her mouth moving making the shapes of words that had no sound. I grabbed my phone and started typing and the more I typed the clearer her words became. Over the next few months, no matter where I was or what I was doing, as soon as she appeared I would scramble to put down anything and everything she said. I didn’t do anything with the words, I didn’t edit or retype, I didn’t try to be clever with them. I tried my best to stay true to them. And then just as suddenly as she’d appeared, she disappeared.
Divine inspiration or nervous breakdown? It didn’t matter. I realised that this was a story that had to be told. It was my story but it was also hers and the one thing I wanted was to stay true to her vision. I realised that the life of an other is one that is very much like a fragmented hallucination, and that without roots most of us spend our lives writing and rewriting our story from those fragments. Our lives on the outside may appear linear and comprehensible, but, when you jump inside, we are nothing of the sort. We live in a kind of schizophrenic delirium, detached, attached, afloat, weighed down by an anchor of expectations, misinterpretations.
And so how can our minds be anything but unconventional, and how could the structure of the novella be anything otherwise?
I want the readers to be subsumed, to have an emotional, unnerving, paranoid experience of what it means to be one of us. I want them to spend time in our heads and see the nightmare, the poetry, the fleeting moments of profundity, the deep, deep despair that comes from being spat out of history. I want them most of all to suspend judgement, to not look for meaning, to accept confusion and incomprehension and simply see.
Sen Rajah is the author, curator and translator of the novella, Milk of the Moon: A Dispatch to the Edge of Consciousness, a brilliant, profound and challenging piece of literature unlike anything you will have encountered before. Milk of the Moon is out now in both digital and paperback format.
Sen Rajah is a man without a country. He fled a civil war at the age of five and grew up in an environment as empty as his history. He is a nomad. His writing has more in common with abstract art than literature as it’s commonly understood. Manipulating language to fit images, distorting structure to find form, his writings are installation pieces, thoughts to be experienced as physical reality.
He freely admits that his work isn’t for everyone, unshackled from history, he feels that he is free to create a form that is unfettered by the rules and conventions that have evolved over time. He believes that writing should always be pushing at the boundaries of what can be said, discovering new ways of thinking, showing the infinitely many ways that a person can be a person.
What a wonderful, honest and interesting guest post. I really enjoyed this.
When I was preparing the post I had a feeling you would enjoy it, Linda.