Excerpt - Ada Limón on Preparing the Body for a Reopened World
Anithya, Arpita and Meha’s passion for literature led them to their endeavour thelitarchives, an Instagram page dedicated to documenting art, poetry and prose. To make people read a lot more poetry, and to introduce them to the unending literature the world has to offer, is their singular aim. The Instagram page, which began in the midst of the pandemic, has already amassed a following of over fifty-three thousand people. In conversation with Anithya, she tells me, ‘The first wave was at its peak when we started thelitarchives. Our main idea behind it was for people to find comfort in literature. We believe that in poetry we bloom, in literature we heal and in archives we exist.’
Their page presents works from Tennessee Williams and Jane Eyre to Saeed Jones Shuntaro Tanikawa, initiating conversations on love, grief, joy, life and everything in between. Reading voraciously, Meha, Arpita and Anithya curate their page with immense love and effort. The pandemic, even as it has isolated us, has opened up many worlds of imagination via the arts. ‘The pandemic, we feel, has made us more reliant on literature. It has become a symbol of hope. It has given us solace in great times of grief. It has become a greater pillar of support. It allowed us to build different worlds within the confines of our home, which I feel is magical and rewarding,’ notes Anithya. She adds that literature ‘allows you to imagine alternate worlds, open/create doors in your mind you didn’t even know exist. Literature gives you the ultimate power to harness your creativity and explore layers within yourself.’
Artwork - Tijana Lukovic
Excerpt - Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness
Making great works from the canon, as well as beautiful works of lesser known writers and artists accessible to the masses, is a feat thelitarchives has achieved by consistently sharing thought provoking literature from around the world and not from a single demographic. ‘Literature cannot simply be bound through the measures of language, maps or what is well known and yet to be known,’ they share. Furthermore, on the conversation of canonisation vis-a-vis the modern artistic terrain we inhabit, Anithya says, ‘canonisation has always been affected by socio-political hegemony. As a new media platform, our approach is very intricate when it comes to giving space to underrepresented artists. The intimacy of connecting an artwork from the impressionist period to a poem written in this very year is the universality of emotion we strive to present.’
Excerpt - Olivia Lang, The Lonely City; Artwork - Little Prince by Xuan Loc Xuan
Among the myriad works they have presented, a few remain their favourites. ‘Our poet in focus series, especially the deck on Naomi Shihab Nye, has been the most special to us, followed by everything we have posted from Sarah Manguso’s book 300 Arguments and an excerpt from one of our favourite essays, titled Isn't That So by Friederike Mayröcker, which was published in The Paris Review. If you haven't read it already, I ask you to read it already!’ Anithya delightfully shares.
Artwork - Jess Mason
Excerpt - Leslie Jamieson, 'The Empathy Exams'
Even as Anithya continues to work for a digital marketing agency as a creative partner, Meha pursues her Master’s in English Literature and Arpita explores her career in Journalism, a lot is in store for the thelitarchives. The women-led venture is aspiring to diversify and they tell us, ‘the overwhelming love that thelitarchives has received only deserves to be loved back. We want to go the extra mile by bringing out things that people can call theirs. It doesn't have to be a merchandise but a tangible prompt perhaps. We also want to do a book exchange across the globe. In the coming year, we will also try to bring in a journal, both physical and digital. In the long run, we'd want to open small public libraries in places where the access to good literature is limited.’
Text Devyani Verma