During 2015 and 2017, Brick Lane Circle ran a highly unique heritage fiction-writing project. It was called ‘Human Stories and the East India Company’. We provided sources of information to our diverse participants, arranged visits to heritage institutions and ran training courses. When the participants were ready to start working on their fictions, they needed a mentor. We were very lucky to have been introduced to Rajeev Balasubramanyam. Over a period of nine months, he ran monthly whole day workshops for sixteen participants, both group and one-to-one sessions. Rajeev’s professionalism, background in fiction-writing, good interpersonal skills and warm personality meant all the participants found him pleasant, inspirational, and a very good learning mentor. He inspired and guided all the individuals to produce high quality short historical fictions on many and varied topics. All the participants and Brick Lane Circle were very grateful for his contribution and support towards completing our historical fiction writing project.
—Dr Muhammad Ahmedullah, Secretary of the Brick Lane Circle
Rajeev Balasbramanyam and Diana Evans co-tutored a writing retreat at Lumb Bank which was very much enjoyed by the 14 writers who attended. Rajeev went above and beyond in his efforts to meet the needs of the writers – offering to do additional tutorials and a drop-in surgery session, both of which were much appreciated. We look forward to working with Rajeev now that Lumb Bank is open again.
—Hellen Meller, Co-Director Lumb Bank & Arvon at Home
Rajeev has a rare ability to make workshops both enlightening and engaging. He drew such good work from participants that many of the participants went on to be published. Part of his talent is he is able to sense the best way of working with any given writer or group of writers. He constantly adjusts his own approach so they have the best learning experience. This was never more evident than the Calabash Festival, Jamaica 2008 workshops, where he managed to draw sublime work from both poets and fiction writers even though they were part of the same workshop grouping. He left such a deep impression on the Hothouse Novelists’ Group that for month’s afterward his workshop series, I would hear member’s asking aloud, ‘I wonder what Rajeev might suggest?’ I have no hesitation in recommending him. to any group or individual seeking to produce writing excellence and an encouraging, can-do atmosphere.
—Peter Kalu, Artistic Director Commonword/Cultureword, Manchester
Rajeev led a workshop for my students in December 2019. One way to gauge the success of a workshop is to see how fast people want to leave when it’s over. I remember distinctly the clot of students blocking the exit and another line of students waiting to talk to him! I actually had to usher students out into the hallway to continue the conversation as the next class needed the room.
One of the pleasures of inviting guests to class is that I never know quite what I will get. I was in the room while Rajeev ran the workshop and was moved by how intensely my students engaged with his guided writing prompts. I was also gratified that some students felt the courage to share their work in the class discussion–this is a clear testament to the welcoming environment he created.
After Rajeev’s visit, you left the class with a new heuristic to approach thinking about the events of their lives and those happening in the world around them. He introduced them to the distinction between things they can change and things they must consider accepting–and to reframe acceptance as a type of growth. We used this distinction in subsequent class discussions. His contribution has become a touchstone for me as well, for which I’m very grateful.
There was also this student email received on December 6, 2019, which I couldn’t help but include:
“Good Morning, Professor Ladva
I want to start by saying thank you for allowing me to be able to meet Rajeev, it was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.”
I wish him well as he develops the workshop and hope many more people will be able to share in the benefits that my students and I clearly enjoyed.
—Nimisha Ladva, Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing, Haverford College
I have engaged Rajeev Balasubramanyam over the past twenty years to work with as a tutors on workshops, masterclasses and residentials courses, primarily with writers of African and Asian descent. Rajeev is always one of the first writing tutor I contact when working on a programme for writers as he Rajeev his knowledge experience and love of his craft freely with writers which they find highly inspirational and motivational.
I initially began working with Rajeev in 2001 when he wrote reviews for SABL LitMag. His approach to writing reviews was very engaging and the writer’s themselves appreciated his critical and thoughtful stance. SABLE was the first organisation to hold book review workshops for writers of colour and I asked Rajeev to take the lead on these workshops for SABLE which he undertook for Cultureword in Manchester in 2008.
He was a resident tutor on two Arvin Foundation residential courses that I organised for writers of African and Asian descent alongside writers, Courttia Newland, Jack Mapanje, Nathalie Handal and Lemn Sissay at Arvon Foundation Centres, in 2002 and 2006. We then asked him to be a tutor for the Inscribe Writers Residential in 2013, too. There is not enough space for all of the wonderful comments and appreciation that has been shared over the years from participants and institutional hosts, for Rajeev’s work and commitment.
—Kadija Sesay, Inscribe/Peepal Tree Press, Publications Manger; SABLE LitMag – Publisher and Editor