World Poetry Day: meet 5 women poets who are writing about social issues
Poetry, writing, and any other form of expression has marked history for posterity. It has captured hope in times as gruelling as the holocaust and during World Wars.
However, just as the world seems to be believing that poetry is dying, a few Indian women are showing that words are immortal, and are embracing poetry on the internet. With a belief that the internet is democratising the space, these modern-day poets are throwing light on issues such as sexual harassment, mental health, etc.
Past all the noise on social media, today their work seems to be truly a food for the soul. On World Poetry Day, which is celebrated on March 21, here’s a look at these wordsmiths who are making social media a kinder and better place.
Harnidh Kaur gained recognition for her writings on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. She mostly writes poetry, which talks about various social and feminist issues, historic events like the 1984 Sikh massacre, as well as everyday experiences and ode to the people in her life.
Her latest poem on Instagram is a reminder in staying kind amidst the panic over the coronavirus pandemic.
A Schwartzman scholar, Harnidh is currently pursuing Masters of Management Science in International economics, business, and public policy. She also holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and did her bachelor’s in History from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, which is affiliated to the University of Delhi.
She has earlier worked as a policy analyst at philanthropy foundation Dasra, where she focussed on urban sanitation and worked on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation WASH grant.
Having published two poetry books including The Inability of Words (2016), Harnidh also conducts poetry workshops and leads #napowrimoxnidhscraps during the national poetry writing month in April every year.
Poet and visual artist Nikita Gill has published five volumes of poetry including Wild Embers: Poems of rebellion, Fire and Beauty (2017), Your Soul Is a River (2018), Fierce Fairytales: & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul (2018), among others.
With nearly 600,000 followers on Instagram, her rise to stardom did not come easy. Nikita was rejected 137 times by publishing houses.
Nikita’s writings are centred around fantasy and feminism, and she has said that for most artists, fantasy is the way to escape inner trauma.
Based in London, Nikita has also penned several short stories and illustrated them. Born in Belfast, Nikita grew up in New Delhi. After completing her bachelor’s in design from University of Delhi, she pursued her master’s at the University for the Creative Arts in England.
Over the years, she has been a notable voice in claiming rights for digital content creators with her own work posted only by the likes of Khloe Kardashian without credit.
Karuna Ezara Parikh
Karuna Ezara Parikh is a travel writer, a model, poet, as well as a television host. She has been on shows like Life’s a beach on NDTV Good Times.
Having amassed nearly 76,000 netizens following her poems and writings on Instagram, the artist shares that she initially started writing on post-it notes, and took pictures of the writing to post on social media sites, which increased the reach by a huge margin on internet.
At the same time, while posting on social media feels restricting in space, she says that the best art comes when there is a limit to artistic expression.
Growing up in the hustle bustle of Delhi, she is now settled in Kolkata.
Poetry writing on social media sites like Instagram and Tumblr got Canadian-Punjabi poet Rupi Kaur a global fame. The poet and illustrator has so far published two poetry books - Milk and Honey (2014) and The sun and her flowers (2017), which were well-received. In fact, the release of her second book earned her a spot in the BBC’s 100 Women list in 2017.
Her writings deal with sexual trauma and the immigrant experience, among other things. Last year, American magazine The New Republic recognised her as the ‘Writer of the Decade’.
Born in Punjab, her family moved to Canada when she was four-years-old. While she took inspiration to paint from her mother, Rupi started focusing on writing when she turned 17. The poet pursued rhetoric and professional writing at the University of Waterloo. She believes that her Sikh identity has shaped her as an artist.
Pratishtha Khattar is the fame behind Paradox and Metaphor blog, and has nearly 47,000 Instagram followers. She claims to be having a wilful indulgence in the #writersofinstagram space and hopes to make her readers think.
Pratishtha turned to poetry as a high school student when she came across a website called Brain Pickings and started exploring poetry and other literary art forms. The poetry sensation takes inspiration from renowned poets like EE Cummings and Anais Nin.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)