In the early nineties my prof Raj Rao used to have a blackboard at the back of his chair. The blackboard was filled with statements clarifying Raj’s stances, a kind of manifesto. But, Raj cannot be entirely unhumorous ever. So his statements were also witty. There was one which stood out: writer = rioter. I dont remember Raj writing anything where this has gone into. But, was surprised to discover that this appears in a poem by Amit Chaudhuri. Raj, when did Amit Chaudhuri visit your office?
On constantly mishearing ‘rioting’ as ‘writing’ on the BBC
There has been writing for ten days now
unabated. People are anxious, fed up.
There is writing in Paris, in disaffected suburbs,
but also in small towns, and old ones like Lyon.
The writers have been burning cars; they’ve thrown
homemade Molotov cocktails at policemen.
Contrary to initial reports, the writers
belong to several communities: Algerian
and Caribbean, certainly, but also Romanian,
Polish, and even French. Some are incredibly
young: the youngest is thirteen.
They stand edgily on street-corners, hardly
looking at each other. Long-standing neglect
and an absence of both authority and employment
have led to what are now ten nights of writing.