Submission Call for a Special 2019 Issue of ASL for Budding Poets & Artists from India & Singapore


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THE ISSUE WILL BE CO-EDITED BY Debasish Parashar & Anitha Devi Pillai.



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“There’s inspiration everywhere. Even on Twitter and Facebook. I find social media always pointing me at some thought or image or idea or word that moves me.” : John Guzlowski.


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John Guzlowski‘s writing appears on Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac and in RattleAtticus Review, Joyce Carol Oates’ Ontario ReviewNorth American Review, and many other journals here and abroad.  His poems and personal essays about his Polish parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees making a life for themselves in Chicago appear in his memoir Echoes of Tattered Tongues (Aquila Polonica Press).  Echoes of Tattered Tongues received the 2017 Benjamin Franklin Poetry Award and the Eric Hoffer Foundation’s Montaigne Award.  Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz – in a review of one of Guzlowski’s poetry books – wrote that Guzlowski’s writing astonished him. In this interview with Koel Sheth  for Advaitam Speaks Literary, he talks about his poetry, creativity, his source of inspiration, his poetic journey so far and much more. Please read below the whole interview.



Koel : Hello John, a warm welcome to you! Were you always aware of the writer in you ? If not, what was the turning point of your life when you realised that you can be a writer?

John : I loved words from the first time I became aware of them. My parents were not educated people. My father was illiterate, and my mom could only read a little. We had no books, or magazines, or newspapers in our house. I remember the first time I saw a book. It was a horror comic book, and on the cover was a zombie coming out of a grave. I was 4 years old, and the comic was on a stack of comic books on a floor in the bathroom of a friend I was visiting. For an hour, I sat in that bathroom looking at this comic book, the zombies, and the words splashed all over the book. I didn’t know what these words meant, but I knew they were part of the magic of this book. Finally, I heard my friend calling me and calling me, and I left that bathroom, but never left behind my love for words.

After that I was always reading. I got my first library card when I was 6, and my favourite thing to do on Saturday mornings was to walk to the library and look for the books I would read during the coming week.

For me, reading and writing were part of the same experience. I was always doing both, recreating and mimicking and extending the stories I was finding in the books I loved.

It’s still that way. I love to read, and I love to write. The perfect day for me starts with writing and ends with reading.


Koel :As a writer, what are the other means for you to connect to the ideas you explore in your poetry and your books?

John : I find inspiration everywhere. Right now, I tend to read a lot of non-fiction and memoir. I love to see other writers telling me what they have seen and felt. It almost feels like I’m sitting in a coffee shop somewhere and having a conversation with someone who feels he or she has a story that I must hear.

But it’s not just books. I love watching documentaries and movies and listening to music (especially traditional folk songs and blues, the everyday music of real people) and walking through a forest following a stream and going to an art museum and looking at paintings.

There’s inspiration everywhere. Even on Twitter and Facebook. I find social media always pointing me at some thought or image or idea or word that moves me.

I keep a notepad with me all the time, and I’m always writing down something that touched me.


Koel : Your writings tell us that your parents’ sufferings created long lasting impact on your mind, but you started writing about them at the age of 31. Was your experience with their struggle so deep that you remember everything? How have those experiences influence your writing?

John : I wish I could remember everything my parents told me about their experiences. I think what I remember most are the worst things, the things that shook me as a child when I first heard them. My father started telling me stories about his time in the war and in the concentration camps when I was just a kid. He had no control over himself when he started talking, and he would tell me things that he shouldn’t have told me. One of the first things I remember him telling me is about a German soldier cutting off a woman’s breasts with his bayonet. I must have been around 6 when I heard this. That image is locked into my memory. I will never forget it. In fact, in the first poem I wrote about my parents I talk about that memory. I was 31 years old, and the memory was there.


Dreams of Unhurried Memories


Too many fears

for a summer day

I regulate my thoughts

and my breathing

regard the humidity

and dream


Somewhere my parents

are still survivors

living unhurried lives

of unhurried memories:

the unclean sweep of a bayonet

through a young girl’s breast,

a body drooping over a rail fence,

the charred lips of the captain of lancers

whispering and steaming

“Where are the horses

where are the horses?”


Death in Poland

like death nowhere else—

cool, gray, breathless


I listened to my father and my mother tell me about what they had experienced, and I wrote about that. What’s interesting to me is that I was completely uninterested in writing about them for a long time. When I was first in college, my dream was to write science fiction novels. I wanted to be the next Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov. I wanted to write about silver space ships moving through the endless darkness of space toward a jewelled planet of creatures not even I could imagine. And then in grad school I became obsessed with writing about literature and all the great writers of the American past. I never wanted to write about my parents and their tortured lives and memories. It was the last thing I wanted to write about in fact. But writing doesn’t always ask you what you want to write. In my experience, it tells you to write and you must write what it wants you to write.

So now I write about my parents and their world, and even when I’m not writing about them the other things I write about are somehow related to their experiences. For example, my forthcoming novel Road of Bones (Kasva Press), about 2 German lovers separated by WWII, is connected to my mother’s story of the war. In an indirect sort of way. The novel began as my attempt to imagine what happened the day the Germans came to her house in the woods west of Lwow and killed her mother and my mom’s sister and the sister’s baby. It began with that intent, and then it became something else, a novel about one of the soldier’s who did those terrible things and his attempt to work through his guilt.


Koel : Being a literature student, I also feel that literature allows us to experience multiple lives in our lifetime, helps us to acknowledge ourselves and point of view of the other better. You were a student of literature, then you became Professor of literature and now you write yourself and your writings inspire us. Would you say that the tough life you have experienced made you extraordinary from the literati in general?

John : I think that all the writers I truly love have lived extraordinary lives: Whitman, Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Hemingway, and Isaac Bashevis Singer. They have experienced those extraordinary lives and they have come back to tell us what they felt and thought.

I think I have had a life that is not like the lives of most people, most writers specifically. I think this is one of the things that keeps me writing. I remember one time toward the end of my mom’s life when she was telling me a story that she wanted me to turn into a poem. I was writing it down as she spoke and when she finished she looked at me and said, “Tell them this happened, not only to us, but to many many people. Tell them.”

I feel that obligation all the time.


Koel :Amongst all your poems which one do you think has come out as the best of you; which one is closest to your heart? Why?

John : I do many many poetry readings, and there are two poems I love to read: “What the War Taught Her” and “What My Father Believed.” I love these poems because for me they encapsulate so much of who my parents were and how their experiences shaped them, and finally shaped me. The first is a poem about my mother’s loss of faith in God and man. The second is about my father’s faith and how he believed we should help people even though we know that helping won’t save them. When I read these two poems, I am with my parents again, listening to their sorrows and their pain and their struggle to survive.

Here’s “What the War Taught Her”:


What the War Taught Her


My mother learned that sex is bad,

Men are worthless, it is always cold

And there is never enough to eat.


She learned that if you are stupid

With your hands you will not survive

The winter even if you survive the fall.


She learned that only the young survive

The camps. The old are left in piles

Like worthless paper, and babies

Are scarce like chickens and bread.



She learned that the world is a broken place

Where no birds sing, and even angels

Cannot bear the sorrows God gives them.


She learned that you don’t pray

Your enemies will not torment you.

You only pray that they will not kill you.


Koel :Do you re-read your poems and ever regret for writing something, which you should not have written?

John : No. The only thing I regret is that one time my mother was going to tell me something that was going to be the story of the worst experience she had during the war, and I told her that I couldn’t listen to this story, that I knew the story would break me and I wanted her to stop. And she said, “Don’t be such a baby. I’m going to tell you the story,” and I said that if she told me the story I would leave and not come back. And she looked at me like I was the most worthless person on earth, and she said, “Ok, I won’t tell you.”

I regret now not letting her tell me the story.


Koel : What are the other themes apart from the traumatic experience of way you would like to include in your upcoming writings?

John : I’m going to be 70 years old in a few weeks. In all the almost 40 years I’ve been writing about my parents I have never read at a poem at a poetry reading that was not about them. Recently, I have been writing poems of course that aren’t about my parents, and I think I would like to read one or two of these the next time I do a reading.

They are old man poems, poems about death, dying, aging, coming to the end of things. I would like to read one of these poems at my next reading. Here’s one:

Death and Poetry

Somewhere there are shadows,

My mother in a doorway, my father

Standing by a fence. You must have

Your own shadows. The dead in one

Another’s arms. The black hearse.

Someone you love behind the curtains.


I remember Abbott and Costello,

Two dead comedians, joking about curtains:

“It’s curtains for me, curtains for you,”

Then the curtains part and the killer

Appears and says, “Slowly I turn,”

But it’s never slowly enough,


And suddenly you’re there

With your own dead and your own

Dying, and nothing feels closer to you

Than the wow moment when you won’t

Be you but some scattered, tattered

Discombobulation of purposeless ions,


The dust that suddenly is last week’s lunch

And this week’s memories of everything

That will not last, and you’re not laughing

Although you once did at Abbott and Costello

Or maybe it was the Three Stooges grinding

On about how slowly death comes.


Less carriage ride than bullet, it’s here now

And all of these words are so purposeless

That it’s a good thing I’m writing all of this

Down now because if I were to wait

Until the moment of my own death

I would just wave these words away.


Koel : Have you ever been rejected by publishers? What advice you would like to give to the aspiring poets/writers about dealing with success as well as rejections?

John : Rejections! Oh yes! They are a constant factor in writing. I got my first rejection in 1978. I got my most recent rejection this morning, forty years later. I expect to get rejections next week, next month, next year, next decade if I’m still writing.

Rejections are a part of writing, just as inspiration is a part of this writing. If inspiration is the muse calling to you, then rejection is her evil twin sister responding to that call.

My advice to an aspiring writer regarding rejection? Keep writing. Don’t stop writing. Don’t stop sending things out. Just keep writing. There will be months and years when you think no one wants to read your words, but you still need to keep writing.


Koel : There are many aspiring writers, poets and novelists who look up to you, who adore you and aspire to become like you one day. When you started your career as a writer, whom did you look up to as your role model?

John : I loved a lot of writers. But I think the two that most shaped me were Jack Kerouac and Walt Whitman. For years, I carried a book by either one of these writers with me at all times. When I was riding my bike, or taking a bus to work, or hitchhiking across America, I had a copy of Whitman’s Song of Myself or Kerouac’s On the Road or one of their other books in my pocket. What moved me in their writing was that they both had a real sense of how chaotic and unforgiving life could be, but still they both had a dream that there was beauty and love and forgiveness in the world. That message of Whitman and Kerouac still inspires me.


Koel : Lastly, as a matter of formality, we are proud to share with our readers that you were the first poet featured in the inaugural issue of Advaitam Speaks Literary Journal. Please share a few words with our readers on Advaitam Speaks Literary journal.

John : What I admire about Advaitam Speaks Literary is that it brings together writers from all over the world to share their joys and sorrows and to remind us that all writers are brothers and sisters.




Bio of the Interviewer:


Koyel Sheth is a graduate in English literature from Motilal Nehru College (Evening), DU. She is currently pursuing her masters from the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi. You can always find her reading in the night and writing in the day. Along with reading and writing, music is another passion she strongly pursues.


“I believe in true art and true verses, and not in mannerism and falsehood.” : Danijela Trajkovic


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Danijela Trajkovic is a Serbian writer, literary critic and translator. Her literary works are published widely in Serbia and abroad. Her book of poetry in translation ’22Wagons’ was published this year by Istok Academia, Knjaževac, Serbia. She holds MA in English language and literature from the University of Priština, Kosovska Mitrovica. In this interview with Debasish Parashar, she talks about translation, creativity, 22 wagons, Serbian poetry and much more. Please read below the whole interview. 



  1. How did you get into translation?

DT : My brother, Nenad Trajković, is a poet. I never meant to deal with translation, but all started because of my brother, who asked me to translate some of his poems into English. I did so. Also translated some poems by Obren Ristić, a great poet, and both of them were published in Poem (Taylor & Francis, UK 2015). Now I am so grateful to my brother for that, to Obren Ristić and to wonderful Fiona Sampson, who found my translations good and gave me the opportunity to appear in such an amazing journal like Poem.


  1. How do you decide which poems or poets to translate? Do you have favorite poets that you like to translate?

DT : We live in an era of post-truth, where lies often prevail over truth. And in the field of poetry, there are many who write, whose poetry will not survive the test of time. I believe in true art and true verses, and not in mannerism and falsehood. I choose poets based on their real merit and that incredible enthusiasm they have as they create. Consequently, my great wish, and this is my next future project that I am working on, is to put together a real anthology of contemporary Serbian poetry, which I will translate into English, so some of my favourite poets will be represented here. As for the poets from around the world, I have already done one small anthology ’22 Wagons’ on the basis of which the poets I appreciate can be recognized.


  1. Is it easier to translate poet friends than to translate poet strangers ? What kind of bonds develop between the translator and the translated work?

DT : When you translate your poet friends, maybe you do not have to go so deep into the poems, cause your friends can tell you the meaning of their metaphors, and when you translate poet strangers you are left with your skills and you actually show how much you really are meant for that job. The bond is strong between the translator and the translated work, only if it a case of appreciating what one does and that is my case.


  1. To what extent is creativity important in translation ?

DT : Translation is complex, especially when we have poets who write hermetic poetry. Therefore a translator must have a great ability to analyze and interpret a poem, and creativity is reflected in the fact that the translation of poetry is always an adaptation which must correspond to the authenticity of the poem and so, because of the complexity, the translator becomes a poet engaged in the creative process. Creativity is required everywhere. A serious translator has to know his mother tongue excellent, the foreign languages he translates into and from, has to be imaginative, has to have the sense of beauty, and has to be an adventurer, willing and always ready for exploring new things and sharing with the people who appreciate that.


  1. Do you try to stay true to the poem, in terms of denotations, connotations, tone, imagery, lines, rhythms? What are the challenges a translator faces?

DT : Yes. For me, the most important aspect is to keep the soul, the essence of the original. There were/are some translators who tried/try to make better poems in translation than the original ones. They change the original works a lot in the name of beautification, which is totally unacceptable in my opinion. There are not some great challenges a translator faces now a days. Most of the poets today do not use rhyme, which used to be a great challenge for the past generation of translators.


  1. Why is translation important, and how can we help to promote it?

DT : Translation is important for connecting people, bringing them together. But as there are many self-proclaimed poets today, there are also fake translators who translate from a translation, not from the original. In order to promote translation, the translator should be stimulated, or rewarded for his work. Unfortunately, we live in material times when everything is expressed through money. We are witnessing that if we are paid, we will honor and appreciate it, but if we get something for free, we have a tendency of taking it lightly.


  1. What is lost in translation? What is gained?

DT : If translation keeps its soul, nothing is lost, in fact gained, because it gives an opportunity to the speakers of another language to get acquainted with the original dressed in familiar clothes. There is nothing better than reading an original text, but since that is not always possible, a good translation offers a suitable replacement that can accommodate the essence of the original.


  1. What is your view of the Serbian poetry and its place in the world?

DT : Holding MA in English Literature, I’ve started the mission of translating as many as I can, excellent, contemporary Anglophone poets into Serbian (never mind if they are already famous or not, since I am able enough to recognize the true values a poem has or doesn’t have) and vice versa. I translate poems by contemporary Serbian poets into English. The idea of translating Serbian poets came from the fact that although Serbian literature has existed for eight centuries, many of the great Serbian poets and writers remain unknown to the Anglophone world. Rarely that Serbian poets appear somewhere in the world. Serbian poetry has its place in the top of world’s poetry and certainly deserves to be paid attention more by the world. We also need to boost cultural exchange and explore cross-cultural linkages. Perhaps it sounds strange, since India and Serbia are almost 6000 km far away each other, but when it comes to the art of poetry of these two countries, we can find similarities. In the poems of Indian and Serbian poets there are often philosophical thoughts, rather than simple features of life. There is a profound quest through which many important answers a human being can find out.


  1. Please tell us about your recent translation project ‘22 Wagons’.


22 wagons

DT : “22 Wagons“ was born out of the idea to make an anthology of Anglophone contemporary poetry which has been felt like an innovative and necessary step for the Serbian speaking people. This book is intended for English language and literature students studying in Serbia, cause those students are stuck with Romantic poets and given no chance for studying about contemporary poets, so I wanted to contribute in this way with my book. Also, the book is intended for all the lovers and connoisseurs of true poetry. So far the reviews on the book have been excellent. This time I use the opportunity to say thanks to some great Serbian poets and writers who supported me in this project like Ranko Pavlović and Obren Ristić. I am very happy when some friends and other people call me up after reading the book to tell me who are their favourite poets from the book. There are always poets whose poetry comes with a sense of freshness, which shows I could satisfy the taste of many people, but there are also some poets who cater to many people’s tastes with a sense of familiarity, which again shows the magnitude of the poetry which has been selected for ’22 Wagons’.


  1. Please share a few words with our readers on Advaitam Speaks Literary journal.

DT : Advaitam Speaks Literary is an International Journal of Poetry, Poetics and Visual Arts which offers people a really good selection of contemporary poetry from around the world. Advaitam Speaks Literary is a remarkable and high quality journal. I am pleased that we celebrate 2018 as a year of Serbo-Indian friendship at the level of culture and art in cooperation with this journal. The media in Serbia and the Republic of Srpska have widely covered this celebration of friendship. I hope that the Indian media will recognize the value of all this and do the same, cause I know that it is a wonderful thing for both the countries. As the translator, I have the honor to present twelve Serbian modern poets in the issues of Advaitam this year. India and Serbia have been two friendly countries and India’s incredible beauty, culture and poetry has always fascinated Serbia. I have already sent my book ’22 Wagons’ to the Embassy of India in Belgrade, with the special dedication to Mrs. Narinder Chauhan, the honourable Indian Ambassador, so that they can have ’22 Wagons’ in their library which features Debasish Parashar, a young but great Indian poet that India should be proud of as its deserving and worthy son.


Advaitam Speaks Literary – Volume 2. Issue 1 :


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Advaitam Speaks Literary Volume 2. Issue 1 is now available online for our readers and well wishers. We are really honoured to present this grand issue with some really talented poets and artists.
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We are happy to inform that we are celebrating 2018 as the year of India-Serbia friendship towards cultural exchange and creativity. We are publishing minimum 3 poets from Serbia and the Balkan region in general.
The Issue features :
Darren C. Demaree, Nadija Rebronja, Mark Hudson, Claudine Nash, Nyamu KJ, Chani Zwibel Butler, Huguette Bertrand, L Noelle McLaughlin, Lidia Chiarelli, Michael Lee Johnson , Peter Magliocco, Vladimir Konieczny, Rajnishmishravns Varanasi, Linda Imbler, Matthew kausch, Joan McNerney, Deepa Onkar, Ndifreke George, Mendes Biondo, Wafula P’Khisa, Anitha Devi Pillaii in General Poetry.
Besides, Poetry in Translation by Danijela Trajković, Ranco Pavlovic, Nenad Trajković and Dorde Sibinovic.
Visual arts by Gianpiero Actis.
Thank You,

Advaitam Speaks Literary- Vol.1 Issue 3-October 2017


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We are really happy to inform you that Advaitam Speaks Literary October 2017 issue is finally live !!
We are little late this time and we are really apologetic about it.
But, we are really happy with the output and we believe, you will not be disappointed by our efforts.
This issue has tried a few things new in terms of cover design and overall aesthetics. Thanks to our young member Moni Kundal Bora for the beautiful Cover Design and Page Layout !
The October Issue features :
John Guzlowski, David Ades & Leslie Ades, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Z.M.Wise of Transcendent Zero Press, Indunil Madhusankha, Biswamit Dwibedy, Daginne Aignende, Rony Nair, Christine Tabaka, Ajmal Khan, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Nyamu KJ, Nalini Priyadarshni, Nivee Narsapur, Mariela Cordero, Elizabeth Mariani, Adhikari Sudeep, Jyotirmaya Thakur, Joan McNerney, Carl Scharwath, Cheshta Rajora, Rajnishmishravns Varanasi, Ilhem Issaoui, The Espresso Effect by Iris Orpi and Sunshine Plata and Kabir Deb and Kyle Hemmings.
Happy Reading !!


Advaitam Speaks Literary : Vol. 1-Issue 2-August 2017-Emerging Voices Special Edition


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‘Emerging Voices’ Special Edition of Advaitam Speaks Literary : Vol. 1-Issue 2-August 2017:

Hello World,

We are really glad to announce that the Special Inaugural Issue of Advaitam Speaks Literary journal for Emerging Voices is now available for our readers on issuu. It feels amazing to bring out this special issue with so many fresh voices from around the world. We are thankful to our contributors, mentors, readers and well-wishers for making this journey memorable.

Thank you for your patience and love

.#advaitamspeaks #advaitamspeaksliterary #advaitamspeakslit #litespeaks

Diana McWilliams, Dennis Andrew Aguinaldo, Benard Mujuni, Payal PhukanAnkit Mishra, Eanna Roberts, Dusk VersesAngel EdwardsAngel EdwardsDr. Brajesh Kumar Gupta “Mewadev”Anthony WatkinsSatarupa Mishra, Dirk Sandarupa, Kavya NeogDurgesh VermaSithuraj Ponraj, Ruth Elwood, Subroto Sinha, Sutanuka GhoshSourav Biswas, Ava Goodman, Samyabrata Mukherjee.


Call For Submissions (Deadline 31 st August 2017)


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Hello World,

Greetings from New Delhi !

Right now, I am overwhelmed with the kind of enthusiastic response I am getting from across the world to the Inaugural Issue of Advaitam Speaks Literary, An international journal of Poetry, Poetics and Visual Arts. Thank you all for the same.

You can have a look at the Inaugural Issue here :

We are accepting submissions for the October Issue of ASL journal. Before submitting please go through the detailed guidelines here:

For those, who would like to know more about our Journal, please visit the links below. Besides, we do not mind if you find some minutes out of your busy schedule to visit the FB page,Google +, Instagram as well as LinkedIn Profiles of ASL journal. Here they are :


Thank you again for your love and support !

Debasish Parashar,

Inaugural Issue of Advaitam Speaks Literary : Vol. 1-Issue 1-July 2017


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Hello World,

We are really glad to launch the inaugural issue of Advaitam Speaks Literary journal almost on time. We have faced multiple hurdles but we have overcome every hurdle with patience and with smiles.It feels amazing.We are thankful to our contributors, mentors, readers and well-wishers for making this journey memorable.

We must also inform you that we love to encourage emerging poets and new voices. Hence we have decided to bring out a separate ASL Issue for Emerging Poets towards the end of this month.

Thank you for your patience and love.


Debasish Parashar

Editor-in-Chief, ASL journal.


Call For Submission (Deadline 10 th June 2017)


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Hello World,

Greetings from New Delhi !

It is my real pleasure to introduce you to this long cherished dream project that I associate myself with :- 

Advaitam Speaks Literary, An international journal of Poetics and Visual Arts.

Right now, I am overwhelmed with the kind of response I am getting from across the world for this pet project,especially for its inaugural issue coming out in July. Thank you all for the same. 

For those who already know about it, please ignore this message.

For those, who would like to know more about it, please visit the links below. Besides, we do not mind if you find some minutes out of your busy schedule to visit the FB page and Instagram Profile of ASL journal.Here they are :

For submissions,

Thank you again for your love and support !

Debasish Parashar

Call For Submission (Deadline 10 th June 2017)


, , , , , , ,

Hello World,

Greetings from New Delhi !

It is my real pleasure to introduce you to this long cherished dream project that I associate myself with :- 

Advaitam Speaks Literary, An international journal of Poetics and Visual Arts.

Right now, I am overwhelmed with the kind of response I am getting from across the world for this pet project,especially for its inaugural issue coming out in July. Thank you all for the same. 

For those who already know about it, please ignore this message.

For those, who would like to know more about it, please visit the links below. Besides, we do not mind if you find some minutes out of your busy schedule to visit the FB page and Instagram Profile of ASL journal.Here they are :  (Under Construction)

For submissions,

Thank you again for your love and support !

Debasish Parashar