Poetry has made quite a comeback in recent times, expanding its scope by blending itself with other forms of performance art and reaching a wider audience thanks to social media.
Whether you echo the sentiments of the rising voices of dissent in society or wish to be seduced by some world-class creative imagery, the works of these five modern Indian poets are worth a read.
The world first took notice of this young Canadian-Sikh girl in 2013 when she began posting her illustrated poems on Instagram. Since then, this 24-year-old ‘instapoet’ has garnered followers all over the world with her hard-hitting, brutally honest yet completely relatable poems dealing with trauma, abuse, love, loss and femininity. She created quite a social media stir when Instagram removed her photo series, which included pictures of a woman wearing sweatpants stained with menstrual blood. Her anthology of poems, titled milk and honey, is a bestseller that every woman must read. Buy it here.
A homosexual, yoga-practising Muslim man of Indian descent residing in the US, Kazim Ali approaches poetry with a wide lens comprising the Indian cultural context, Western romanticism, religion and human identity. His verses evade all labels of subject matter and lyrical mode, often relying on rich, beautiful and intelligent imagery that appeals to poetry lovers and general avid readers equally. The award-winning writer is also a professor of creative writing, with works featured in publications like Boston Review and The American Poetry Review.
Bold, assertive, Dalit, feminist—all these labels automatically add weight to this Chennai-based poet, activist and academician’s voice. Her deeply moving, often inflammatory, prose and poetry deal with caste and women’s rights, issues that she has personally dealt with, thus lending more authenticity to her work. Her two anthologies, Touch and Ms Militancy (buy here), caustically and painfully challenge prominent world-views and make for inspiring reads for women poets and feminists the world over.
Humble The Poet
Elementary school teacher, spoken word artist, writer—Kanwer Singh aka Humble The Poet dons many hats with effortless ease. More a rapper than a poet, the Toronto-based artist shot to fame through his YouTube channel and has carved quite a niche for himself, performing at several music festivals including Lollapalooza. His thought-provoking lyrics deal with homophobia, racism and diversity, making him instrumental in introducing a meaningful and often critical vantage point to the global hip-hop scene.
Rated as one of the ten rising stars of British poetry by The Times, this London-based poet and playwright is known for writing poetry that abruptly shifts from one style to another, uses inventive words and shocks, awes and seduces the reader all at once. His first collection of poems, Kalagora (buy here), is a black/white man’s story based in the cities of Mumbai, Kolkata and London, instilling their multicultural fabric with raw energy and romance. His one-man play, also called Kalagora, has had an acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011.