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On World Poetry Day, 5 Contemporary Indian Poets Not To Miss

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| March 21 , 2018 , 14:03 IST

At a time when the steep challenges we face from increasing stress levels, health complications, inequality along with violent extremism, the words of poets gave us hope.

Arranged in words, coloured with images, struck with the right meter, poetry has a power that has no match. It has the power to shake us from everyday life and to remind us of the beauty that surrounds us and the resilience of the shared human spirit. 

In 1999, UNESCO declared 21st March as a World Poetry Day to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within communities.

On this day we present you 5 Contemporary Indian Poets, whose work you should know:

  • Meena Kandasamy

Speaking at the Jaipur Literature Festival, Meena Kandasamy expressed that the “aim of her poetry is to send a social message.” As a woman, that too a Dalit woman, who gives a voice to issues such as caste oppression, discrimination and gender relations, her powerful poetry creates waves that are both celebrated as well as questioned by many in our patriarchal society.

The Chennai-based poet, writer and translator had her first book Touch published in 2006 and has won prizes in all-India poetry competitions. She took on the role of Editor of the bi-monthly English magazine The Dalit during its initial year of publication, from 2001-2002. Kandasamy is political and selective with her words and has stayed true to her identity in carving out space for the voice of resistance and dissent in our tumultuous social and political climate.

  • Tishani Doshi

Born to Welsh and Gujarati parents in Tamil Nadu, Tishani Doshi is a poet, writer and dancer whose first book of poetry, Countries of the Body (2006), won a Forward Prize for Best First Collection, as per the Poetry Foundation. Having since published six books of poetry and fiction, Doshi’s accolades are plenty. Recipient of an Eric Gregory Award for Poetry and winner of the All-India Poetry Competition, she even represented the country at a historic gathering of world poets for Poetry Parnassus at the Southbank Centre, London.

Her poetry covers a range of themes and subjects, ranging from travel, love and longing to finding and transforming your identity across borders, self-illumination, all tinged with her own experience with the same.

  • Sonnet Mondal

Described very aptly as a “weaver of marvellous words”, Sonnet Mondal’s accomplishments when it comes to his poetic works and representation of Indian writers and poets on a global scale are incredible.

Founder of The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Mondal has authored eight books of poetry and has many more in the works. He’s also on the editorial board of a multilingual magazine called Levure littéraire based in Paris, France. While he may be a globetrotter, widely published in international and Indian literary journals and publications and speaks at festivals and literary gatherings the world over, Mondal has his feet rooted to India and its people.

  • Akhil Katyal

Professor, poet and PhD scholar, Akhil Katyal’s works tend to have a political undertone. Katyal came to most readers attention with his writings on Kashmir, a contentious subject many tend to avoid.

Katyal doesn’t mince words when it comes to critiques of the government, of journalist assassinations and advocacy for LGBTQ rights and equality, and that’s what makes his work so powerful. Katyal strings together words in a manner that resonates with each and every reader regardless of your stance on the subject. Author of Night Charge Extra, Katyal plays an active role in the Delhi art and cultural space, as well as University issues and movements.

  • Harnidh Kaur

Currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, Harnidh Kaur describes herself as a “part-time poet, full-time student, and overarching feminist. Harnidh’s work covers a wide range of subjects including the 1984 Sikh massacre, feminist empowerment, and her poem ‘Pantheon,’ which inspired artist Priyanka Paul’s amazing ‘Goddesses’ series, led to an array of lewd comments and hate mail on social media.