All posts by Shikha Malaviya

About Shikha Malaviya

Shikha Malaviya ( is a South Asian poet & writer. She is co-founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, a mentorship model press publishing voices from India & the Indian diaspora. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and featured in PLUME, Prairie Schooner & other fine journals. Shikha was a featured TEDx speaker in GolfLinks, Bangalore, in 2013, where she gave a talk on poetry. She has been a four-time mentor for AWP's Writer to Writer Mentorship Program & was selected as Poet Laureate of San Ramon, California, 2016. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area.


What happens when six talented writers journey 2000 Km across India by train? Check out THE BOOKWALLAH  to find out.  As part of a pre-event sponsored by The Bangalore Literary Festival, THE BOOKWALLAH brings to namma Bengaluru three Indian writers-poet Sudeep Sen, literary critic and novelist Chandrahas Choudhury and poet & writer Annie Zaidi, along with Australian novelists Michelle De Kretser, Kirsty Murray and journalist/media personality Benjamin Law.

These writers bring with them a unique travelling library, housed in handmade Kangaroo leather trunks that convert into bookcases, aiming to forge connections and glean/share stories.

The first day’s events, at the Bangalore International Centre, Domlur, were a marriage of poetry and prose, with Chandrahas Choudhury illustrating “Ten Ways the Novel Can Change Your Life” with beautiful excerpts from the novels of Chekov, Mo Yan, Orhan Pamuk and more. Next, poet Sudeep Sen, in his lilting voice, read from his newly launched…

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Literary Festival Fever

Jaipur Literary Festival

Yes Folks, it’s that time of year again. Literary festivals are popping up like wild mushrooms all over India and the next few months offer a cornucopia of events for the literary inclined. The Kovalam Literary Festival (KLF) kicked off the season last week, with an event in Delhi and a weekend litfest in Kovalam, Kerala. Poet, writer and Booker Nominee Jeet Thayil was the star attraction at the Delhi event, in conversation with Aleph Books founder and writer David Davidar. Close on the heels of KLF are Literature Live in Bombay (OCT 31-NOV 4), The Poetry with Prakriti Festival in Chennai (slated to be in early December), The Bangalore Literature Festival (DEC 7-9), The Goa Arts and Literature festival (DEC 13-17), Mumbai Fully Booked, a Times of India initiative (slated for December), The Hyderabad Literary Festival (JAN 18-20, 2013) and the grandest of them all, The Jaipur Literature Festival (JAN 24-28, 2013). Those who can’t make it for any of the above or who haven’t quite got their fill, can get a taste of more literary action at Mumbai’s most popular arts event, The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (FEB 2-10, 2012).

Stay tuned to TGIPP regarding poetry related updates for these festivals.

Poetry, a Conduit of Change

100 Thousand Poets for Change, Kuala Lampur

“Art presents the opportunity to influence change in the global social, environmental and political landscape. Poetry, very specifically, can gather people together for issues affecting the world. As a genre it forms an ideal creative outlet while allowing room for expression without the limits of overly rigid rules.”

An article in today’s issue of The Hindu, by Jessu John, on how 100 Thousand Poets for Change is creating ripples all over the world. In India, events are being held in Bangalore, New Delhi and Pune.

Authenticity Found Sideways

For Mehrotra and some of his contemporaries, the spatial perspective on modernity and the appetite for moving sideways explains much—for instance, why Kolatkar could choose to speak in Williams’ diction in Jejuri; why Ramanujan could reach for Marianne Moore when translating from the ancient Tamil; why Mehrotra, as both a poet and translator, could fashion affinities with the Surrealists, with Pound (in his translations of Prakrit love poetry), and with the idiom of the American comic book (the recent Kabir translations). In his penchant for making the canonical uncanonical, in his inversions of linear progression, and in his assumption that literature is a space rather than an inheritance, Mehrotra is akin to Borges. “A borrowed voice sets the true one/free,”

A long essay by Amit Chaudhuri, in the September issue of The Caravan, called The Sideways Movement, addresses and traces the issues of an indigenous tradition of Indian English writing, tailoring the Emperor’s clothes, so to speak, to suit one’s purpose. Chaudhuri shares how an essay written twenty years ago, by poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, The Emperor Has No Clothes, created a commotion by accusing most Indian English writers of the time, of adopting English and its traditions, without any innovations or customizations. In that infamous essay, Mehrotra made statements such as:

Barring a few, most Indian English writers acquire the language they write in and seldom lick it off their mothers’ teats. …. This whole question of multilingualism should be looked at less jingoistically if it is to have any meaning, as I think it does.

(Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” Chandrabhaga, #7, 1982.)

Mehrotra was brave, in calling a spade a spade, urging writers at that time to take the medium of English and make it their own.

Chaudhuri goes on to examine the implications of Mehrotra’s essay, which was re-released as part of a collection, in 2011, called Partial Recall. Looking to other poets such as A.K. Ramanujan,  Arun Kolatkar, Nissim Ezekiel, and R. Parthasarathy, Chaudhuri pieces together a trajectory of modern Indian poetry which is multi-layered in its influences and varied in their stance of what constitutes ‘Indian.’

Set aside time and a scholarly bent of mind to get through this essay;)


Folks in Bangalore,

Mark your calendars for SEPTEMBER 29, for an evening of poetry, music and awareness. I am so very excited to be involved in this event. 100 Thousand Poets for Change ( is spearheaded by an American poet, Michael Rothenberg, to bring writers, musicians and artists together, all on one day, in different parts of the world, to raise awareness on issues that affect our society and greater world. To learn more about the Bangalore event, visit the FB page:

I have always been a believer in the power of words to create/promote social change. Mahatma Gandhi, through words and action, was able to arouse a whole nation to fight for their freedom. Martin Luther King through his famous speech, I have a Dream, was able to inspire African Americans to fight for their civil rights. And singers like John Lennon, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, through their…

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A Different kind of Indian Poetry Anthology

The much anticipated HarperCollins Book of English Poetry, edited by Indian poet Sudeep Sen, is finally available at bookstores! Published by HarperCollins India, this anthology showcases the work of poets from India and the Indian diaspora born after 1950. What makes this anthology even more unique is that ninety percent of the poems are original and have not been published elsewhere.  Here’s a video review of the anthology by Mint Lounge’s Supriya Nair and here’s a poem by Sudeep Sen, which is also included in the anthology. Enjoy!

Not as Diplomatic with their Words…

India’s diplomats seem to be wielding the pen for more poetic causes. Amarendra Khatua, India’s newly appointed ambassador to Argentina, adds another book of poems, Love Abracadabra, to the list of Indian diplomats who are writing and publishing books. Khatua, who has bee promoting poetry from his native state Odisha, for more than forty years, has a long list of publications: 14 in Odiya, two in Hindi, one in Telugu and three in English. Khatua shares the title of Indian diplomat/poet with ambassador to the U.S. Nirupama Rao and emerging poet Abhay Kumar, First Secretary, Embassy of India, Kathmandu, who have both published books of poems inspired by their travels outside of India.

Diplomats writing poetry is certainly not a new trend, with Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), the nobel prize winning poet from Chile, serving as a diplomat for much of his adult life. Neruda’s words reverberate around the world, even today, with its explosive metaphors  and honest exploration of one’s relationship with the greater world.

Let’s hope India’s diplomat-poets can create the same effect.

Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis Makes Booker Long List

Three cheers for Indian poet & writer Jeet Thayil, whose novel Narcopolis has made it into the Man Booker long list. Narcopolis takes place in a 1970s Mumbai opium den and is loosely inspired by Mr. Thayil’s own life experiences. The book has been praised for its poetry like prose and the compelling characters that bring the underbelly of Bombay to life. Here’s a little taste:

Bombay, which obliterated its own history by changing its name and surgically altering its face, is the hero or heroin of this story, and since I’m the one who’s telling it and you don’t know who I am, let me say that we’ll get to the who of it but not right now, because now there’s time enough not to hurry, to light the lamp and open the window to the moon and take a moment to dream of a great and broken city, because when the day starts its business I’ll have to stop, these are nighttime tales that vanish in sunlight, like vampire dust—

I will be getting my copy this week! While most of us are happy to see yet another Indian writer make it to the long list of such a prestigious literary prize, there are others who condemn it. Read my response to Ashley Telllis’s reaction.

Global Poetry System-GPS

Just discovered this wonderful poetry resource on youtube called Global Poetry System, a project by Southbank Centre, UK, whose lofty goal is to explore and map the poetry of the world.  Within the span of a few minutes, poets read their work or share their relationship with poetry in terms of place, etc. They have 321 videos. Can’t wait to watch all of them. Some of our very own Indian poets are there: Jeet Thayil, Tabish Khair and Karthika Nair, among others. Enjoy!