Away from home

Seeing the last post on Interior Decoration, a friend wrote in to alert us to the University of Arkansas' recent offering, Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry, edited by Neelanjana Banerjee, Summi Kaipa, and Pireeni Sundaralingam.

This is the first anthology to showcase South Asian American poetry and it has been received with effusive praise. Billy Collins says “Rarely does one have the pleasure of seeing so many poets violate the truth that no one can be in two places at once. Indivisible provides hundreds of local poetic delights and deserves a place among the best anthologies of poetry.” while Vijay Prashad, whose The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World has featured in an earlier post on this blog says “No-one can speak for ‘America’ or ‘Humanity,’ but these poems give us a glimpse of both. Scattered among them are treasures and heartbreaks, mercurial descriptions of life and languid backward glances at what is left behind, what cannot be recovered. This is a language map of South Asian America. Come. Come for a ride.”

Indivisible's editors, Banerjee (a teaching artist at the San Francisco Writers Corps and a past editor-in-chief of Asian Week), Kaipa (a neuropsychologist in Berkeley, CA) and Sundaralingam (an award-winning poet, playwright, and cognitive scientist) have brought together forty-nine American poets who trace their roots to Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Featuring award-winning poets including Meena Alexander, Agha Shahid Ali, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and Vijay Seshadri, here are poets who share a long history of grappling with a multiplicity of languages, cultures, and faiths. The poems gathered here take us from basketball courts to Bollywood, from the Grand Canyon to sugar plantations, and from Hindu-Muslim riots in India to anti-immigrant attacks on the streets of post–9/11 America.

Showcasing a diversity of forms, from traditional ghazals and sestinas to free verse, experimental writing, and slam poetry, Indivisible presents 141 poems by authors who are rewriting the cultural and literary landscape of their time and their place.