Creating a Dialogue: The Steady Rise of Indian Poets

Anup Sohanta

In the last few years, poetry has made a big comeback, from romance to poignant prose about growth and self-improvement. Among the diverse sea of poets around the world, there’s been a steady rise of Indian wordsmiths building bridges and overcoming cultural barriers. 

With the aid of social media, poetry has opened up a pathway of communication between artists of all ages and introduced an era of “insta-poets.” Some use social media to promote their work and engage with their audience, while others compose and publish directly on platforms like Instagram. This in turn has created a conversation about topics the Indian community might otherwise consider taboo, such as sex, feminism, depression, and racism.

One of the most prominent figures in modern poetry is author and poet Rupi Kaur. With the release of her first book, Milk and Honey in 2014, Kaur offered a relatable part of herself to an audience who could then connect to her on a deeper level. Kaur has served an inspiration to young women around world—especially those in the Asian community, since she has demonstrated what young, hard-working Indian women can accomplish. Her entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to her craft helped her sell over 2.5 million copies of her first book, and it spent over a year on The New York Times best seller list.

Popular poet Pavana Reddy—author of Rangoli—combines Indian heritage with carefully crafted words about trauma, loss, and healing from within. Her honest, raw poetry caught the attention of musician Anoushka Shankar, which led to Reddy's poetry being read by Vanessa Redgrave on Shankar's album Land of Gold

Nikita Gill has released works that include Your Soul Is a River and Wild Embers. As an immigrant to the UK, Gill learned English as a second language, with Hindi being her first. She’s shared her journey of becoming a strong Indian woman through poetry that expresses her pain, anger, and her experience of discrimination. She believes it's essential that women of color write about their experiences, to bring more diversity to writing and give a voice to issues often swept under the rug. Gill says that her poetry is meant to give an authentic voice to women of color, so often misrepresented in the world. 

Poetry allows many Indian women to break down stereotypes and discuss their feelings openly with the world as their audience, across many formats and genres and regardless of where they are in the world. For example, American author and poet Madhuri Pavamani expresses herself in an untamed and raw fashion that inspires and entertains her readers, whether she's writing poetry or a paranormal romance. Other Indian poets, writers, and authors are helping to shed light on issues that the Indian culture has traditionally avoided, from emotional and physical abuse to learning to love yourself without a partner. And this flowering of inspirational work from exciting new writers shows no signs of slowing down.