Because All is Not Lost - A Book Review

'Because All is Not Lost' by Sweta Vikram Srivastava is a humble book. Although it's a slim book with words floating by smoothly, don't go just by the looks. These few pages carry a burden large enough to drown a mountain. Every word leaves a long-lasting impact on the soul of the reader, almost taking them unawares. Each word treads elephant like heavy yet firm straight towards its destination, your heart.
Reader are sure to find something in the book with which they could relate to, something to feel close to and something to be reassured with. Even those who do not read poetry would understand instinctively the pathos and the twinkling rays of hope in these poetry.

The poetess Sweta has let her heart open to her readers, her vulnerability visible in each of the poems. The book itself is a multitude of emotions bound together by a string of hope. While, 'A note to the biggest thief in this world' is a hopeful poetry in the book which promises the readers "To cherish the lush meadow of what's left behind and not roam dark alleys where phantoms bite like rodents, " on the other hand you have pounding heavily on your chest, 'Don't talk to strangers' and 'Beginning of the End.'
On one hand you have the fast paced 'A different Kind of Thanksgiving' "His blindside, her wrong side. Halt. Shrieks. Blood. Permanent stain." telling a story of anguish yet to be felt and on the other you have 'Lesson Learnt' which says, "Today, I am that age where I can throw rocks at the ocean all night. Swallow fumes of adulthood. But I don't."

This book is for all those who have lost someone close to their heart and also for those who fear loosing someone close. Poetess Sweta's poetry has the power to play with the fear residing inside of us and then leave us gaping with a hope, just like a roller coaster ride. 

A review by Smita Singh


Sweta Srivastava Vikram talks to V about her book, poetry and Shakira!!!

*V got a chance to chat with our favourite Sweta Srivastava Vikram who is launching her poetry collection 'Because All is Not Lost' today!!!* Please read on to know more about Sweta, her new book and lot more...

           V - Your poetry collection has launched recently, how are you feeling right now? 
            Sweta - Very excited and nervous. And a little guilty about eating my favorite cupcake from Buttercup. 
     V - When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 
      Sweta – It was so long ago that I can’t remember exactly when. Maybe from the time I learnt to hold a pen - I am from the ink-pen generation. When I saw pen dipped in ink, birthing words on paper, making that commitment, I fell in love with the art of writing.

My parents introduced my brother and me to books rather early in our lives. And every time I saw a Tinkle, Chacha Chowdhry, or Enid Blyton, I would admire the name of the author splashed on the cover. I just knew that one day I wanted my name on a book.

      V - How long does it take you to write a whole poetry collection? 
       Sweta – There isn’t a magical formula. Each project is so unique. The process from start to completion depends on several factors: theme of the book, frame of mind, emotional commitment to the topic, my environment, style of poetry, and the energy around me. While some books happen in barely any time at all, other projects demand their time.

     V - What is your work schedule like when you're writing? 
      Sweta – Pretty ridiculous, if I may say so myself. It can vary anywhere from 8-12 hours in a day or more. But then “writing,” as you know, involves more than inscribing words. There is research and editing involved as well. And not forgetting, networking and readings.

     V - What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 
      Sweta – I like being a racehorse when I write--see nothing around me. No kidding. I have tried writing in a park, but then the smell of food or the sight of charming handbags and shoes are such distractions. I need to be surrounded by four walls to write.

     V - When did you write your first poem and how old were you? 
      Sweta – I started scribbling in my diaries when I was a kid. Ask my brother about it. He’s lugged my carry-on luggage, filled with semi-used notebooks, from India to Europe to Africa, when we were growing up. But when I was in eighth grade at Oak Grove (a boarding school in Musoorie, India), I wrote my first, serious poem. I must have been a pre-teen then, I guess. The poem was addressed to my father. Mussoorie, with its nippy and foggy weather but nurturing milieu, was the perfect place to write poetry. (My school was rare, in that, it churned out a lot of creative professionals.)

      V - What do you like to do when you're not writing? 
      Sweta – Talking. Seriously, ask anyone. Also, I laugh at my own jokes, not just while sharing them, but also while thinking about them in public places at the oddest of times.
Apart from entertaining myself and the people around me, I am addicted to “active” verbs: dancing, cooking, hanging out with friends, entertaining, watching reruns of “Criminal Minds” and movies with my husband, visiting museums, catching a Broadway show, chatting on Skype with my nieces, going for long walks and taking yoga classes--anything that doesn’t involve my sitting still for more than fifteen minutes. It’s a standard joke amongst friends and family--“Sweta always needs an activity.”

       V - What does your family think of your writing? 
      Sweta– I don’t even know where to begin. I feel blessed and humbled. My husband, my father, my nieces--Diya and Sana--and my husband’s cousin Nidhi are probably my biggest fans and unconditional supporters. This isn’t to say that the others aren’t, but these folks are just special in what they do.

My husband, who otherwise is a man of extremely balanced emotions, goes berserk when my pieces get published. My wonderful publisher, Victor R. Volkman, sent me a poster of my book, Because All Is Not Lost. My husband decided to put it up in his office. Sometimes, he has more faith in my abilities than I do. I get my writing genes from my father. He reads every one of my blog posts, essays, stories, and poems. He keeps me sharp, and we debate all the time. My nieces are hilarious! The older one, Diya, reads my stories, before my brother and sister-in-law can get their hands on them, and she explains it to Sana, the younger one. Sana then asks me to quiz her on my pieces when we talk on Skype. And lastly, but equally importantly, Nidhi is incredible. She has the sharpest editorial eyes. She is so fearless and candid with her critique. And just as easily comforts me with stories.

      V - What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book? 
      Sweta – Nothing is impossible when you put your mind to it. I believe our brain and heart have an indescribable capacity; you have to direct them appropriately. And faith in your own self is key or else it’s very easy to get sidetracked by the negativity spread by some people.

    V - How many books have you written? Which is your favourite? 
    Sweta – By now several. They are all special in their own ways because each book is a journey of its own. However, Because All Is Not Lost, and my first fiction novel, which is with an agent, are probably closest to my heart.
    V - Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?  Sweta – Hardly. Don’t embarrass me. But I will say two things that I follow: write everyday and discipline yourself. Anything is better than blank paper. I can’t tell you the number of times I have revisited an old journal and picked up lines that at one point seemed irrelevant.

Also, have a schedule in place. The stereotype about us artists is that we only work when the creative juices flow and the muses pay a visit. But that’s not the case unless you live in a bohemian world. Most of my writer and artist friends have a routine they stick to. As Peter Vries said, “I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning.”

   V - What do you think makes good poetry? 
   Sweta – Honesty and motivation. I believe if the poet writes about things that require personal investment (emotionally), sincerity automatically creeps into the work. Poetry then becomes a story - --accessible and unpretentious.

   V - What inspired you to write Because All is Not Lost? 
   Sweta – I am a raging optimist. The glass is always half full in my eyes. Of course, dejection and bad news bother me but for an insignificant amount of time. I like to believe that worse is only as bad as you make it out to be. I am not undervaluing the feeling or impact of loss, but ultimately, one has to come out of that shell and appreciate who and what is still present versus what’s become a part of the past. I wanted to get that message out without being didactic about it. At the end of the day, every human being has suffered loss in some form or the other. And what better way to connect with the heart than poetry.

    V - How would you describe 'Because All is Not Lost' to someone who has not read any of your previous poetry? 
     Sweta – It’s a book you want to buy as a holiday gift for everyone in your world. So, rush to the stores, NOW, and show you care! This book will change your life. Haaa. 

But seriously, this is a book about hope. It’s simple and therapeutic. The theme isn’t ambiguous, and the poems are based mostly on real life experiences. I can promise you that every person who reads this book will find at least one poem that resonates with her or him.

      V - You are known to write all kinds of things. Does poetry come easy to you? What other things do you write? Do you have a specific writing style? 
      Sweta – Though I write both prose and poetry, I have to say that poetry and creative nonfiction essays come more naturally to me than fiction. Maybe it’s my personality but I say it like I see it. And given that poetry and nonfiction are straight from the heart, it’s effortless, for me. But that said, once I immerse myself in my fiction manuscript, I thoroughly enjoy it. It just takes a little time to get there. The liberty that you can take with fiction is incomparable.

Aside from the above mentioned, I have a blog (http://pandorastwocents.blogspot.com/) where I post opinions on a wide range of things: culture, traditions, movies, books, perspectives, etc. As for my writing style, it depends on the genre I am working on. Even within each genre, depending on the theme or topic, I might use a different voice.

      V - How did you come up with the title? 
       Sweta – It came to me, literally. I felt that’s exactly what I was trying to convey in each poem.

     V - What was the hardest part of writing your book? 
      Sweta –  Some of the poems are more personal and closer to my heart than the others. Writing them meant revisiting and reliving those incidents that I had buried in a box of denial.
     V - Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? 
      Sweta –As clichéd as it sounds: the worse is over. Good follows bad. Every dark cloud has a silver lining, so don’t give up.
     V- You have mentioned Mausi and Dada in the book, who are they and how did they influence the events in your own life? 
     Sweta – Mausi, was my mother’s elder sister and Dada, was my paternal grandfather, both gnawed by the teeth of cancer.

I lost my Dada when I was five. When I would visit him in the hospital, he would ask me to sing and dance for him. He’d lost his voice, so he would write his requests on pieces of paper. Mausi passed away in 2009. When I last saw her, which was in 2008, she had cooked my favorite food and spent the evening discussing my poetry. She was probably the first woman from my parents’ generation to read my work.

I have asked myself the same question over and over again--why is it that I felt these two losses more than the others? Was it because my last communication with both my Dada and Mausi was when they made my ordinary moments extraordinary? Even if subconsciously, do we as humans seek that experience? I don’t have an answer, but I know that my encounters with them had a big part to play in the creation of this book.

      V - Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 
      Sweta – Several, I would say. But from the top of my head, I can think of Sadia Shepard. Her memoir, The Girl from Foreign, is such a beautiful and honest piece of work. Also, I couldn’t put down Khaled Hosseini’s books: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. He has such a simple yet evocative style of writing.
     V - What was the book that most influenced your life — and why? 
       Sweta - Oak Grove, my boarding school, turned me into a bibliophile. The library there was to die for. It was there that I got introduced the phenomenal world of Jane Austen.

I have to say that Jane Austen’s works have truly influenced my life. She was a visionary. For a woman, who grew up in a very different society and time, it's amazing how she tapped into today's core challenges two centuries ago. Her thoughts, social commentary, and lessons on morality are relevant even today.
      V - What are your current projects after Because All is Not Lost? 
       Sweta – I have a chapbook coming out in August titled, Kaleidoscope: An Asian Journey of Colors. Plus, another poetry collection, Whispering Woes of Ganges & Zambezi, a collaborative effort with a poet from Zimbabwe, is due for a July end release.

      V - Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members 
      Sweta – I feel fortunate; lot of my friends, both old (especially my Fergusson and Oak Grove family) and new, you know who you are, have encouraged me along the way. They have cheered me incredulously with their phone calls, emails, Facebook messages. But two of my friends, Rashi Baid and Jaya Sharan, deserve special accolades. They have never once left my side.

When I told Jaya and Rashi, at separate times, “I have a dream,” they both responded: “Go for it.” It’s Rashi’s (bad!) luck that she lives in the same city and neighborhood as I do. I have called her up at wee hours and without as much as squinting breath, she’s laughed, danced, and cried with me.

Jaya lives in Calcutta (India). She’s known to call me in the middle of my night, when she’s at some party, to randomly discuss my work. When my first book came out, she sent her father on a wild goose chase. He went to every bookstore in Calcutta to see whether or not a hard copy was available.

     V - Can you share a little of your current work with us? 
     Sweta– I am involved in a project with a visual artist from Australia, which is rather exciting. Aside from that, I currently am working on a book-length poetry manuscript and my second fiction novel.

     V - Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
     Sweta – I have this awful problem of not knowing when to stop working. My next “Thing-to-do-list,” reads: Discipline myself to take breaks and let go.

     V - Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you. Be creative. Tell us about your first job, the inspiration for your writing, any fun details that would enliven your page. 

(a) I am a planner and a compulsive organizer. So much so that I have given my husband and a few of my friends a list of everything I want (music, food, wine) at my funeral. These are moments when he wonders why we are still married. J

(b) I believe Shakira’s song, “Hips Don’t Lie” can single-handedly create world peace. Not just that I can dance to the song anywhere and anytime. Ask my friends (especially Ellen Goldstein, Georgia Clark, Katherine Mary Govier, Hadeel Assali, Norma Valdez-Jimenez, and Maria Del Carmen Cifuentes), and they’ll vouch for it.

(c) I don’t like being told what to do. While taking my twelfth board exams, I got so bored of the examiner’s sermon and constant nagging that I napped for a good thirty minutes. Did I mention that my mom, like most other Indian mothers, wanted me to study medicine? Funny story: I would go for these entrance exams and doodle flowers or poems for hours together. I recently confessed to my mother, and six months later, she’s still in a state of shock. J

                  V - What else do you want your readers to know? Consider here your likes and dislikes, your interests and hobbies, your favourite ways to unwind whatever comes to mind.
                   Sweta — 

             (a) I don’t know how to wear a sari.

             (b) I can dance anytime and anywhere.

             (c) Bollywood and art are my religion; my kitchen is my temple; and chilli chicken & chicken biryani are my sacred feast.

             (d) Look me up if you need white wine recommendations on the types, pairings, and tastings.

           Interviewed by Smita Singh for V


V member in News *HOT in!!!*

Sweta Srivastava Vikram's poetry collection 'Because All is Not Lost' is releasing shortly. Please visit again to read her interview exclusive to V. V are thrilled for Sweta. A gripping story of grief and loss and journey to faith and hope will interest all lovers of poetry.

About Sweta Srivastava Vikram    

Sweta Srivastava Vikram is a multi-genre writer living in New York City. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in literary journals, online publications,
and anthologies across six countries and three continents. Sweta has attended several
writing residencies and workshops in the United States and Europe. She is a VONA writer and a graduate of Columbia University.

About this Chapbook, Sweta says

We have all lost a dear one at some point in our lives. Grief, depending on the relationship with the one deceased, affects us differently. I feel my Dada and Mausi’s absence every single day for disparate reasons. But these two losses have taught me that their time had come. And that life is about celebrating
those alive and not just mourning those who have moved on. Optimism and faith are the keys to overcoming the roadblocks life puts in our way. This book tries to state that there is always hope for anyone coping with grief. No one can tell us exactly
how; the voyage has to be undertaken by each of us individually.

Visit Sweta's website at www.swetavikram.com


V Competitions - is it fact, fiction or fafiction?!

V announces opening of VISNOMY competitions and welcomes entries from all.
But first you should all know what are we talking about. So here are a few facts, and can V live without fiction? No, so some of those fictions and some half baked, half done, rare, fafictions!!

Fafiction - noun - used first at VAANIester dictionary - meaning in between fact and fiction, the grey area between white and black. other usage Fafict - verb i.e. to fafict and Fafictive - adjective i.e. being fafictive.
VISNOMY was first used in popular English literature: sometime before 1822. Visnomy \Vis"no*my\, noun. [Contr. from physiognomy.]

Noah Webster [Noun] Face; countenance. [Not in use.]


countenance, face, encumbrance, facade, facet, favor, forbearance, forefront, forehead, guarantor, guise, injector. Sometimes also: administrator, advertiser, caretaker, contributor, defaulter, entrant, person, physiognomy, prompter, tester, trespasser, visage, aspect, appearance, form, endurance, sanction, dress, aid, expression.


facilitate, facing, front.


facial expression, friendly disposition, good will, human face, kind regard. 

Examples of usage of word VISNOMY
  • No doubt he saw in his memory's eye the majestic nose of my aunt, and my "visnomy" under the effect of such a contrast must have looked comical enough, by way of a tragic mask.
  • Privately, one studies his own ill-modeled visnomy to see if by any chance it bespeaks the emotions he inwardly feels.
  • His crown was bald and encircled by a fair supply of crisp, curly, and silvery hair, whilst a thick gray moustache gave no martial and veteran air to his visnomy.
  • All those present laughed at her mockery of Iblis and wondered at the wittiness of her visnomy  and her readiness in versifying, whilst the Shaykh himself rejoiced and said to her,
  • And when the morning rose, she rose * And crescent like her visnomy:
  • ‘Physiognomy’ will not give place to ‘visnomy’, however
  • One of the performers had blown his visnomy to a point.
  • "The matter!" answered I, in astonishment; looking to see if the man had lost his sight or his senses -- "the matter! who ever saw a sheep's head with straight horns, and a visnomy all colours of the rainbow -- red, blue, orange, green, yellow, white, and black?"
  • Scotch signifies throat; "if he is Craig-in-guilt just now, he is as likely to be Craig-in-peril as ony chield I ever saw; the loon has woodie written on his very visnomy, and I wad wager twa and a plack that hemp plaits his cravat yet."
  • And were it not that through your cruelty, with sorrow dimmed and deformd it were: the goodly ymage of your visnomy, clearer then christall would therein appere.
Examples have been taken from Wordnik so a big thank you to them.

************************VISNOMY Competitions ****************************

To enter the VISNOMY Competition please see below for details.

Competition 1. Visnomy - Entries are welcome based on the word "Visnomy" (see the word meaning above) It could be a fiction, non-fiction, an article, a poetry or an illustration. For word pieces the limits are 1000-3000. For illustrations the size is A4.

Competition 2. Fafictions - Entries are open for those stories that hang in between fact and fiction or in between two opposites. The word limits are between 1000 words to 5000 words.

Competition 3. Fiction - Entries are open to all kinds of fiction belonging to any genre as long as it is a great read. The words limits are between 2000 words to 10,000 words.

Competition 4. Articles - All subjects are welcome as V knows how intelligent our readers are so feel free but whatever you talk about talk well and talk easy. V are looking for clear and concise but very interesting articles. Photos are okay to be accompanied with the pieces but they should all be in .jpeg form with very high resolutions. The words limits are from 1000 words to 3000 words.

Competition 5. Poetry and/or Pofictry (meaning poetry with fiction )- Contemporary poems are welcome, it needs to be either touching V's heart or tickling the intelligence or just too interesting to ignore. The words limits are not something V likes but something V are forced to take into account due to space limits. So for this they are between 150 words to 1000 words.
Please note that from each competition there will be a winner and two runner up and the prize will be £20 for winner and £10 for each runner up along with a copy of VISNOMY and a BIG THANK YOU certificate from V.

V has tried to keep all entry fee to the minimum. Entry fee for each entry is £4.00 for all and £3.00 for each entry by VAANI members. No submissions will be accepted without the entry fee. Closing date for all entries is 30th September 2010. Submissions are accepted only via email with subject box clearly saying magazine submission and your category. The email for submission is magsubmission@vaani.org. Please choose your options from the button below. The payment is safe and secure through the trusted Paypal website. Your information will not be distributed at any times and will remain in strict confidentiality with only VAANI as per the Data Protection Act.

VISNOMY Competitions



VAANI member Manju Chaudhuri's published!!

Our member Manju Chaudhuri's published by Austin & Macaulay and her novel "The Flowing River" is releasing this month.

About the book

From being a young Bengali girl to Sumana's later life in Calcutta, India, The Flowing River is a factually based novel that relayed a vivid account of a girl's will and determination to succeed. Set in a world that delivers few rights for women, it follows her struggle as she questions a conservatives and uncompromising society.
As she endeavours to educate herself and strive for a way forward in life, she must endure the torment and hardship of her female status, whilst maintaining her will to move towards a more rewarding future.
Manju Chaudhuri delivers a novel on her own experiences of life in two worlds, east and West and a women's struggle to succeed against all odds. Her words will engage the reader with tales of sorrow and determination, from the life of a young girl to an educated and dignified woman, The Flowing River is a gripping and inspirational tale that will captivate the reader.

About The Author

Manju Chaudhuri was born in East Bengal (present Bangladesh). Later she moved to Calcutta, India to pursue her higher education. She has lived and worked in England since 1971. Now she is a retired teacher. Her published work includes GCSE Bengali texts, children's bilingual stories and other teaching resources. The Flowing River was previously published as Kangsho Ganga Thames in Bengali in India.


VAANI AGM held on 6th July 2010

Hello All
VAANI had a successful AGM today. Majority of the members were present and took part enthusiastically in all the activities on Agenda.

By voting following members were selected for the positions below and form the VAANI Executive committee 2010:
Chairperson - Smita Singh
General Secretary - Deepika Verma
Secretary - Jyotsna Singh
Secretary - Neelam Jain
ECM(Art and Craft) - Afshan Malik
ECM (Media and other relevant areas) - Sunita Pattani
ECM (Media and other relevant areas) - Daljit Virdi

AGM 6th July 2010 Meeting Agenda
1. General introduction and meeting kick off by Chairperson. Please click here to read Chair person's report on the past year.
2. Nominated Members speeches
3. Voting
4. Counting and appointing
5. Pledge
6. Policies suggestions to the new committee
7. Anthology-who is doing what, writing what-taking account
8. Magazine - VISNOMY- making the plan-what should be in it, may be doing a market research?
9. 8th Oct 2010 event- discussion and planning
10. Weekly meetings - format and chairing
11. Thanks by Chairperson

Light refreshments was served during the meeting.
Minutes of the meeting
  1. The name of the future magazine VISNOMY was approved by all members unanimously. 
  2. A VAANI Spring festival was decided from next year.
  3. The ECM (Media) will be arranging for VAANI to have a stall in another Festival in the Park to get the word out in the coming month of August 2010.
  4. A new format of the weekly meetings was decided upon.
  5. a. Catch up time -15 mins
  6. b. Positive thinking - 15 mins
  7. c. Writing exercise warm up.
  8. d. Constructive criticism of each others work.
  9. e. Discussion and writing on any chosen topic.
  10. It was also decided that the members will take turns to chair the meetings.
  11. Anthology and VISNOMY was also discussed in detail and all members were reminded of the looming deadline.
All in all it was well attended and very constructive meeting for all. A big thank you goes to all the members for their support.
Thanks to Nandini Jawli General Secretary 2009 and Asifa Hussain Secretary 2009 for their unwavering support to the group.
Heartiest Congratulations to all the selected Executive committee members as well as other members for having successfully chosen their representative.
An Executive Committee meeting will be taking place soon to review VAANI's policies and procedures and to introduce chosen members to their duties formally.
Many Thanks
Smita Singh


VISNOMY - V Magazine

V plans to launch a brand new, exciting a new perspective VISNOMY a magazine by Asian Women. The launch is scheduled to be in the early next year. Its is a quarterly magazine initially and then gradually becoming monthly.

V will open invitation for submissions of fantastic long, short fiction, interesting articles, exciting poetry and amazing Art works by all Asian Women writers and Artists. Any proposal for articles are welcome. Please email us at magsubmission@vaani.org for further information or queries regarding the magazine.

There will be competitions running through out the year so keep an eye on this website.

Happy writing!

Copyright (c) VAANI etc.

Copyright © VAANI. The written piece of work is the property of the individual writers who belong to the group called Vaani. Copying or abuse of any material here is strictly prohibited. Permission of the writer is required to use their work somewhere else. For such matters, Please contact us here .