Adeeba Shahid Talukder Brings Urdu and Persian Verses Out of Tradition

February 29, 2020

In a word, Adeeba Shahid Talukder’s Kundiman Poetry Prize-winning collection Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved is virtuosic. It sings, thrums with the force of centuries of Urdu and Persian verse. In doing so, it owns the strength of a woman’s voice. In the title poem, Talukder writes, “At December’s end Benazir died / in … Read More

Poem: Nani’s Letter

February 27, 2020

Granddaughter, When I was fourteen, I crossed fourteen rivers, walked to every village that fell under Big Mountain’s shadow, knocking on the door of every medicine woman that knew the mountain rock as her own altar—passing a message, trick of safety, ruse to rouge unmistakable into ordinariness.    They hid their medicine in the rocks of … Read More

Poem: Pushkar

February 14, 2020

She arcs an aural eclipse. Last night, the ashes swallowed us whole; a stream of rajgold bangles parting the brahma ghat, throat full of pink salt, ghazals spilling over the ornate moon’s boheme venture. I, milky meteors, trace your eye-lined courtyards slowly, ever so slowly. To remember the dead orphan who once named djinns after … Read More

2019 in Poems

December 18, 2019

As the year wraps up, I want to highlight five poems by South Asian poets I’ve loved and noted in 2019. I turn to these widely published, critically-acclaimed poets when I find my own budding poet-self stuck within the limitations of needing to write about South Asian identity. These five poems are pure and impassioned. … Read More

Poem: Sajda

December 16, 2019

like bugleweed, my unshaven hair is sprawling into sajda after all these years, these legs i’m still hauling into sajda when i went down on you i accidentally muttered a prayer my back turned to stars still feels like i’m falling into sajda i’m sorry i keep entangling broken verses in your curls it’s just … Read More

Poem: Mutations

December 9, 2019

i have tried to catalogue my own mutation as my body peels gradually away from the place i come from. i cannot recognize this shape anymore, each time i walk on a straight edge it feels like a border, any line becomes a carving of land. i can’t think about the blue of water without … Read More

Talking Identity, History, and Outer Space with Vijay Seshadri

November 20, 2019

I met Vijay Seshadri at Dunkin’ Donuts. We sat in the patio, where a statue that looked like the Virgin Mary watched over us. He wanted to meet at Dunkin’ Donuts because it is a very South Asian franchise. Like motels, like 7/11s, brown people with roots in a mountain-fringed subcontinent tend to stand behind … Read More

“If They Come For Us” Plaintively Explores the Legacy of Partition

August 8, 2018

Fatimah Asghar’s much-anticipated debut collection of poetry spans the divide of Partition, community, loss, and love. Motion connotes a certain amount of freedom. It belongs in the air, in the depths of the ocean, in the fingertips of flames reaching for something greater, more infinite. But the movement of Partition relied on boundaries to restrict … Read More

Tommy Pico’s “Junk” is a Love Letter to Abandonment

May 4, 2018

Junk is the latest epic book length poem written by Native American poet and 2018 Whiting Award winner Tommy Pico. In the poem, “junk“ takes on a double – actually, quadruple – entendre. First and foremost, junk is junk, as in useless stuff. We learn that Pico’s relationship with junk began all the way back on the … Read More

Evil Eye

January 31, 2018

Mama calls me wilted, a flower bending inwards. In other words, depressed. Nani calls it nazar. A remedy, an illness. Carried by all. Contagious. Tightrope between keeping appearances and keeping a distance. “Nazar lagayi.” It touched you. Caressed your luck, as you naively crossed its path. His headaches. Her skin. The mangled car on the … Read More

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