‘Briefly in Sheffield’ | 1999-2015

Redesigning means revisiting some of your favorites ideas.

The story Briefly in Sheffield is one of those, for me. I’m happy whenever people read this zine of ours, in the real life context. I’m happy when they put it down and smile and say, That was a good story.

It’s short and sweet, much like the real life encounter that inspired this short story.

Often I hear, ‘I can really identify with the main character…’

Well, yeah. He’s quite a lark. Which is why I wrote this—so I could share the feeling of meeting and becoming curious about… ZM.

Art for art’s sake

‘Briefly’ is for ZM, one of the first people who challenged me to become fast on my feet in articulating a response, not hefty, when someone asks me something pointedly that I really don’t want to answer. Why that happens, how it rolls from that moment of questing through to the one where you find yourself in an unimaginably close-knit bond, in a short space of time, is the subject and delight of the young love that this story shines a light unabashedly upon.

I finished it in a jiffy, more than a dozen attempts since the late nineteen-nineties, and then, wham. There it was. Typed. Printed. Zined.

Like most situations, the impetus to figure out my way to the feeling came after meeting someone randomly, someone new. Whose shoes, which I remarked upon, and accent, which I remarked upon further, reminded me in every way of Z.

[I will skip the parts that didn’t, like that ridiculous potato-sack hopping thing that a lot of thirtysomethings were doing. I can’t deal with this kind of architecture ‘playfulness’ that this age group have, but whatever. I sat in the corner and mused about Z., watching the grown adults race in bags. But the peanuts. The peanuts were good. That was over Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh, in 2017. A new muse, a new poetry. A new beginning. And a new art.]

Jazzy, this one. With a clear understanding that this kind of thing can happen…

‘Shall we dance?…’

Cue ‘Shall we dance…’

Short stories and fresh writings

And now, here it is, reworked. A new cover design. I’m putting it over at the store for Kismuth.

Lots of reorganizing, around here, these days. Redirections. Reinventions. Sorting out the clutter, getting rid of the dead weight. Thank you most especially to AM, and a few others. Who have helped me very much in recent weeks come to some new understandings and insights; as I hope, I always hope this, I hope I did for them, too. And others, too, of course. Granted. Sure. Not a whole hell of a lot of others, but a handful, to be sure. Acknowledgements. Count.

Who, exactly? Coming soon. I have to write down the next things and then I’ll be able to understand who it is that has been here, with me, in the learning and sharing, int eh connecting and conversing, in the opening up and being around and telling it like it is and not-stopping, even if there’s a little space in the midst… space is natural… but meaning it.

Caring. Showing up. Is huge, for DK. And what we do, here. Making. Making things. Artworks come from this intention… meaning it.

Hugely important. For quality.

In search of Quality

Quality! Is all I really want to make more of, around here. And everywhere. Putting more beauty into the world. Forgetting my platform, there for a bit. Too distracted trying to make meaning with people who don’t know what that even looks like. Letting go. Clean, fresh openings.

Another country, soon. Another round and boisterous new start. I made a new personal website, too. Seeing. How it all feels. Writing and designing and zining and publishing, all in one spot here, was maybe kinda a bit… much. Enter podcasting and more stuff like that and yeah, even I’m kinda dazed. So let me simplify things. Let’s make this page all about the publishing of things. In Kismuth, or in S P A C E. I do like to include people in those conversations that lead to things, like co-created bits and pieces. I’m inviting people to join me, now, but in an invite-only kind of way. If you’re curious, get in touch somehow. We have a million channels.

DK

Exploring for the S P A C E || UK story

TAKING NOTES, visually, walking the cities was curious about.

Is how a thing got researched.

A thing that led to a draft, which was downloaded on a laptop, which got stolen, which there was no backup of, which was a kind of freedom, which led to forgetting the whole thing, which led to starting anew. But only when the right set of circumstances landed in front of me. Coming into shape, setting the new stage. Clearer, simpler.

More focused.

Next up, from the S P A C E collection, is S P A C E || Sheffield. Which leads with ‘Briefly in Sheffield,’ and dips to London for a chat with a very old book by Johannes Kepler, pictured. Special thanks to Sokol Books.

‘Briefly in Sheffield’

S P A C E || Sheffield

Order here.

Set in England, November 1998 and May 2016. Creative nonfiction based on real life encounters, S P A C E tells stories in third-person narrative. ‘Briefly in Sheffield’ is part of the larger series, S P A C E, a set of interwoven stories spanning the past, present and near future.

‘Briefly’ is one of DK’s first zine releases, and to help us all understand more about it, I recently interviewed the author, Karin Malhotra.

AS: You’ve been working on this a while, right?

KM: Twenty years. Jeez. That is a long time.

AS: And you’re finished? Why now?

KM: Timing. Chance. Discovering the thread in a moment that felt just right, and that tied up the loose ends into a work that is cohesive, to me, aesthetically. Also it was finished over Khmer New Year, and I was in Phnom Penh, pretty much not able to do anything else but write, since not a lot was open, people were away, and the atmosphere was quiet enough to focus and work. Not on the thing I imagined I would write (an assignment) with the time I had, but this just sort of flowed. I am glad about it. It has been meaning to be written, but I just… couldn’t… figure out the form… and other stories got made in the meantime, based on recency, interviewing people, wrapping quickly.

AS: Any examples?

KM: Sure. We collaborated to make S P A C E || Penang, which leads with ‘4/4 Measure,’ or S P A C E || Cameron, ‘Highlands.’ Fast is Design Kompany’s usual style; one of our team was at a daily, in 2004-5, so the tempo is real fast. Got used to quick wraps, now with the early zine prototyping at DK in 2016, practicing for this series. Ironic that ‘Briefly’ took two decades.

AS: Did you not just participate in Atelier S P A C E in Phnom Penh?

KM: Well…  yes. But we couldn’t get inspired, not yet, to make a zine for Phnom Penh. I guess it is too soon. We did get the cover shot, though. A window, a wall.

AS: So we will see it in 2038?

KM: *laughs* Um.

Sheffield. ‘Everyone always asks… Why?’
Peak District side tour

AS: So what about Sheffield?

KM: I went there in 2016.

AS: Because of Z.

KM: Inspired by. Not because of. Different. I remember writing a version of the first scene of this in like, 1999. But it was too soon. Plus I knew I really needed to get there, to Sheffield, I mean, if I wanted to get the story right. With proper details. I’ve always really wanted to write about my favorite people and places… Z. is based on someone I had met very briefly, but who challenged me to articulate ideas I couldn’t find words for, not yet, not then. It took ages years to get there, both the city and the necklace of the storyline, but when I did, I could finally respond to some of the big questions we had tussled with.

AS: Such as?

KM: Usual ones, for kids like us.

About life, work, and duty.

About culture, family, and social responsibility.

AS: ‘Kids like us?’ What do you mean?

KM: Oh. Being second-generation. Non-white, in countries like America and England.

Mugen Tea House, Sheffield
City Centre

AS: I know that this is an important subject for you, and I would like to hear more about it. Can you elaborate?

KM: Honestly, I’d rather not intellectualize this. If you want to really understand the feelings, the feelings are written into the story. I think art’s job is to get us to see things for ourselves, right? Too many times, I feel, authors and publicity people want to put words into nice, tight paragraphs that sound good, and goad you into buying stuff. That’s just not what matters to me. What matters to me is telling the story, telling it well, and showing the personality of Z., whom this is about, really. The earnest, soft, kind youth of a world apart from mine; our parents lineages’ clash, you see, India, Pakistan… that about sums it, right? But yeah. Second-generation. He was so different from me, and yet… awake and curious to learning the how and why of a new angle on life, and philosophy, even at that young age that we both were, at the time. Long story but I’ve put it down in a short form… Zines are handy, that way.

AS: A zine. What is that?

KM: A zine is a short, DIY-published piece, usually photocopied in limited edition and distributed by hand. But in this case, it’s a soft copy. An eZine.

AS: Okay. Let me understand this. It took you 20 years to write this. And it’s a work of creative nonfiction. The story, ‘Briefly in Sheffield,’ is set in England in 1998 and 2016. Why publish it now? Why Sheffield? 

KM: Fair questions. Okay, so, the zine, S P A C E || Sheffield, is part of a larger collection, S P A C E, that interweaves people and place, and hits square on underasked questions about: origin, cultural identity, and self. Isn’t now a good time to bring up these topics, given the world situation? I thought so. That’s why.

AS: Where can I get it?

KM: Scroll down.

AS: But okay. Twenty years??

KM: Working out the ideas and getting to a stance on things… that took a while! But I’m glad I waited. I’m glad I let things percolate, so that when I wrote the last chapter of this, it would mean something. It would have come from a place of substantial rumination, of query and argument, discussion, revisiting, reboots and regenerations. So much is packed in this.

AS: What happened when you finally got to Sheffield?

KM: You’ll have to read the story!… Many thanks to Golden Harvest and Mugen Tea House in Sheffield for the excellent conversations. And ZM, for whom this zine is written. *Chuffed*

 

How to order ‘Briefly in Sheffield’…

Order here.