Three more of our fabulous panelists!
Vidhu Aggarwal grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and Sugar Land Texas, and currently lives and teaches in central Florida. Her poetry and video are a mash-up of cultural forms such as Bollywood, Star Trek, video games, internet porn, anime, minstrel shows, and tourist attractions.
Her poems can be found in Sugar House Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Juked, Nimrod, PANK, desi-lit, and interlope among others. Readings and videos are available at the website www.vidhu-aggarwal.squarespace.com
She is the found editor of SPECS, a journal of arts and culture with issues on Toys, The Perverse, and Homuncular Flexibility — www.specsjournal.org.
Sonali Dev’s first literary work was a play about mistaken identities performed at her neighborhood Diwali extravaganza in Mumbai. She was eight years old. Despite this early success, Sonali spent the next few decades getting degrees in architecture and written communication, working as Assistant Editor at The Indian Architect and Builder and blogging for sulekha.com and rediff.com.
With the advent of her first gray hair her mad love for telling stories returned full force and she combined it with her love of Bollywood films and her outrage at archaic social customs to conjure up her debut novel, A Bollywood Affair, which was a 2013 finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest. Sonali believes that the modern face of the romance genre is the perfect feminist platform- stories of women, by women, for women, and she is excited to bring diversity and social awareness to it while still indulging her faith in a happily ever after.
Arvind Venugopal is a trained Carnatic vocalist from Chennai, India. Carnatic music from South India is one of the oldest systems of music in the world. For almost a decade, Arvind trained at Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha under the guidance of two gurus, the late Sri Gopalakrishna Sarma and Sri Ranganathan Sarma. Arvind grew up in a musically gifted family where music permeates daily life. His mother has dual degrees in Classical Hindustani and Carnatic Music, his father is a learned classical music connoisseur, and his extended family fills family gatherings with melodious ragas.
Arvind believes that the beauty of music is that it is fundamentally universal and simplistic. Like his transcontinental life across America and India, he believes that the fusion of different genres of music across East and West is a symbol of our shared worlds. With his roots in classical music theory, Arvind experiments with multiple instruments and music apps on his tablet – creating unique hybrid sounds that serve as his inspiration.
Arvind has performed at various events around the DC/Baltimore area, and has featured at soulful venues like BloomBars and Culture Coffee.