Poetry, over years, has developed the reputation of being hard to penetrate, excessively elaborate with metaphors that seem far-fetched in the current climate of instant gratification via social media, apps and the internet.
Is because they dare to speak about what has silenced women over the generations before them?
What makes poets tick and reach the top of our list of favorites in this generation? Is it their ability to simplify poetry? Their ability to make their craft and personalities relevant to social media? Is because they dare to speak about what has silenced women over the generations before them?
The most agile craftsmen are those who are able to adapt their craft to the times, while not diluting its essence and authenticity. These five female Indian poets are have achieved this balance and are definitely a must read for 2018.
- Rupi Kaur
Born in India, but raised in Canada for most of her life, Rupi’s poetry is simple and prolific. She explores the pressures and experiences of migration, its impact on the women of the family and the unique transnational identity that it creates. She is, however best known for her literature on womanhood and the emotional abuse that is part and parcel of the gender. In her books, milk and honey and The Sun and Her Flowers she explores the universal experience of young women today, in terms of their relationship with the men in their lives, their bodies and self-image and the patriarchal structures governing their potential and self-worth. What is most fascinating about her work is that she writes exclusively in lower case, she does this to honor her culture and its text Gurmukhi, she has found a unique way of weaving her heritage into her poetry.
Fun Fact: While Rupi’s writing is full of grace and elegance, has a pretty kick-ass activist side to her. She posted a controversial Instagram picture of herself lying in bed with menstrual blood stains on her sweatpants and her sheets. Instagram removed this photo as “inappropriate content” and the issue sparked conversations about women’s right to their bodies and space on the internet.
- Tishani Doshi:
Half-Welsh, Half Gurati, Tishani Doshi is a multi-talented as a poet, journalist and talented performer. Her poetry is best experienced live as she performs it through movement and dance, it truly makes her words come alive. Her first set of poems, ‘Countries of the Body’ won the Forward Poetry Prize for best First collection. Since then she has received many awards for her works. Her poetry covers topics of the oppression women face, the role of nature and its relationship with women, empowerment and their true potential. She claims that what she aims to do with her poetry is to “turn her skin inside out and reinvent every lost word”.
Fun Fact: After an unexpected encounter with Chandralekha, one of India’s leading choreographers, Tishani began her career in dance and performs with them internationally.
- Roshelle Potkar
Roshelle is a Mumbai based fiction writer and poet. Her writing ranges from short stories, poetry, and haibun. Her works are a reflection of her experiences, significant or mundane that elements of life that inspire her. She explores themes of loneliness, love, science and memories from the socio-economic climate of her childhood. She is passionate about exposing India to the art of Haibun, which are prose poetry form interspersed with Haiku, she believes it has helped her intersect story and poetry. Her poetry has a sharp angle of self-reflexivity, she closely examines and candidly exposes her joys, sorrows, confusion and even jealousy in her writing. This makes her utterly human and completely relatable. Her writing also makes sharp transitions from upbeat to the dark truths of reality.
Fun Fact: She was the writer in residence at the UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa’s prestigious writing program in 205.
- Arundathi Subramanium:
Arundathi writes about spirituality and culture, her experience in the arts spans over years as a poetry editor, curator and journalist on classical dance and theatre. He poetry recounts her everyday experiences with travelling on trains to the cities she loves, to her notions associated with home and the courage to confess her deepest fears. All of her poetry is deeply rooted in reality with a self-awareness that is even jarring at times. She demonstrates high moral standards in a world where values are withering a way at the speed of light. She takes a close look at the human experience, paying attention to even the smallest of details like our flesh and the germs residing on our hands, she puts this in stark contrast to our dreams and destinies.
- Meena Kandaswamy:
Meena is an Indian poet, fiction writer and activist for anti-caste annihilation movement. Meena’s work centers around feminism and her struggle to achieve social justice, which she expressed through her poetry. Her debut series of poems called ‘Touch’ explored the themes of caste and untouchability. Meena believes that her process of writing is how she began to come to terms with her uniquely oppressed identity as a woman, a Tamil and a member of the lower caste. She grew cognisant of how society labels her but remained determined to transcend and eventually redefine that, she took charge of her identity and image and worked towards empowering those in the Dalit community with her works. She explores the role of women bound my time, and their circumstances. Her poetry is riddled with memories and experiences of her yearning for freedom in an uncertain world. She even writes about female aggression and silence, how the two are tragically intertwined.
Fun Fact: She represented India at the University of Iowa’s international writing program and was also a Charles Wallace India Trust Fellow and The University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.