A hundred and eight feet incense stick
, and • South 24 Parganas, West Bengal

A hundred and eight feet incense stick

Long after the buzz over God and His fanfare have ebbed at His temple, a poet's sharp and witty limericks force us to take a hard look at the changing fabric of the nation

May 12, 2024 | Joshua Bodhinetra

An Adivasi writes off the village

A poet writes about his dilemma: should he continue with his suffocating existence on the margins of the city he has been forced to migrate to, or return to his village? A poem in Panchamahali Bhili

September 12, 2023 | Vajesinh Pargi
An ancient tree, a changing climate
and • Bangalore, Karnataka

An ancient tree, a changing climate

A poem about human apathy towards climate change also speaks of the changing social and political environment in India

June 27, 2023 | Pratishtha Pandya

A tale of a book and three neighbours
and • South 24 Parganas, West Bengal

A tale of a book and three neighbours

The Indian Constitution is celebrated in a set of nine haikus, honouring the values that make us who we are

May 27, 2023 | Joshua Bodhinetra
Annadata and Sarkar Bahadur
, and • Mumbai, Maharashtra

Annadata and Sarkar Bahadur

When the powerful manipulate the official records, a poet picks up his words to pen the truth. This one about farmer suicides in UP and elsewhere in the country

April 24, 2023 | Devesh

A dream, a country, a crematorium
, and • Mumbai, Maharashtra

A dream, a country, a crematorium

On 21 March 2023, the World Poetry Day, a poet dreams of a country and mourns a dream

March 21, 2023 | Devesh
Lives and languages hanging by a thread
, and • Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Lives and languages hanging by a thread

In times of divisiveness and hatred, a poet goes looking for the languages of love and liberty. And where else does she end up but in a gossamer of mother tongues rising from silenced histories

February 20, 2023 | Sabika Abbas
The beanstalk of Joshimath
and • Bangalore, Karnataka

The beanstalk of Joshimath

The subsidence in and around Joshimath has led to cracks in hundreds of dwellings in the town. This poem is written in the aftermath of this disaster

February 3, 2023 | Pratishtha Pandya

Of cursed tongues and towers
, and • Bangalore, Karnataka

Of cursed tongues and towers

A passionate debate sparked off by a minister’s earnest appeal for a common national language takes a poet back to the Tower of Babel

November  23, 2022 | Gokul G.K.

The song of a Rabari girl
, and • Jamnagar, Gujarat

The song of a Rabari girl

A short poem, where a young Rabari girl from Jamnagar district writes about her realities, wishes and rights

September 26, 2022 | Jigna Rabari

Of trees, people and civilisations
, and • Narmada, Gujarat

Of trees, people and civilisations

In his fifth and final poem in a cluster of five written in Dehwali Bhili, an Adivasi poet takes a hard look at the growing conflicts within an Adivasi identity in a society governed by fancy ideas of development

September 15, 2022 | Jitendra Vasava

The boy who dared to drink
, and • Kolkata, West Bengal

The boy who dared to drink

Moved by the death of Indra Kumar Meghwal at the hands of his teacher, a poet wields his pen and lashes at the age-old caste system that keeps many at the receiving end of injustice

September 7, 2022 | Joshua Bodhinetra

The ends of justice: a case of Bilkis Bano
, and • Gandhinagar, Gujarat

The ends of justice: a case of Bilkis Bano

A lone woman’s painful struggle for justice, and the recent remission granted to 11 convicts who had assaulted her during the 2002 Gujarat riots, sits, disturbingly, at the centre of this poem

August 24, 2022 | Hemang Ashwinkumar

A name and the conspiracy of naming
, and • Ranchi, Jharkhand

A name and the conspiracy of naming

A statement by the first tribal President of India, ‘Droupadi was not my original name’, brings back painful historical memories to Adivasi communities, the earliest inhabitants of this country. The anguish she expressed has been shared by many Adivasis, like the poet here

August 9, 2022 | Jacinta Kerketta

The civilisation of the jungle
, and • Narmada, Gujarat

The civilisation of the jungle

In his fourth poem in a cluster of five written in Dehwali Bhili, an Adivasi poet condemns the self-destructive nature of our so-called civilization and its hollow understanding of peace

August 3, 2022 | Jitendra Vasava

Once we separate ourselves from the river…

In this third poem, in a string of five written in Dehwali Bhili, an Adivasi poet from Narmada district speaks of the rupture between human beings and nature, and a universe of alternative values

July 8, 2022 | Jitendra Vasava

The beast, the begum and the bulldozer
, and • Bengaluru, Karnataka

The beast, the begum and the bulldozer

‘For every heart the beast plucked, grew a new heart, a new flower, a new life, a new world’: a poem provoked by a series of selective demolition of houses and buildings across the country

June 29, 2022 | Gokul G.K.

The Adivasi and the ‘Moon Man’

In a string of five poems, an Adivasi poet from Narmada district in Gujarat curates the lived experiences and beliefs of tribal communities. This is the second in the series

May 13, 2022 | Jitendra Vasava

Between bulldozer blades: flowers and hope

Her life lay shredded by a bulldozer. As if the riots a few days ago had not done enough. But the wild flowers, she knows, will grow like hope from the vicious claws of these machines. A poem

May 4, 2022 | Pratishtha Pandya

Curating a forest in a seed: a poem

Languages, says this Adivasi poet from Gujarat, carry literature, knowledge, worldviews and more. He celebrates this treasure through poems in the Dehwali Bhili language. This is the first in a series

April 26, 2022 | Jitendra Vasava

Infinite longing, demarcated bodies
and • North West Delhi, National Capital Territory of Delhi

Infinite longing, demarcated bodies

A reporter finds her medium falling short of her expectations as she speaks about life and love with a sex worker from Delhi. She does pick up a pen, but what she writes is not a news story

February 22, 2022 | Shalini Singh

The India of my dreams
and • Pune, Maharashtra

The India of my dreams

A writer is moved to strong emotions and poetry as the air fills with words of violence and hatred in the country she loves and calls home

December 29, 2021 | Namita Waikar

A hole for a heart and a hope for a hammer

A poet’s powerful tribute to farmers, diverse and united in their spectacular struggle against the three unjust farm laws imposed on them that the state was compelled to repeal

December 11, 2021 | Joshua Bodhinetra

The superstate and the Smile Police
and • Bengaluru, Karnataka

The superstate and the Smile Police

A poem inspired by the spate of cancellations of shows by stand-up comedians and others in recent times – with the authorities, on each occasion, citing possible law and order issues

December 8, 2021 | Gokul G.K.

Feral goats and ghar-wapasi
, and • Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

Feral goats and ghar-wapasi

A poet, troubled by growing ethnic violence and the drives to deter, detain, and deport migrants across the world, and rising hatred against minorities in his own country, ponders the meaning of ‘ghar-wapasi’

November 25, 2021 | Anshu Malviya

The King and his very secret elephantine years

A mother remembers a folktale she heard from her mother and writes a little verse about it. Any resemblances to people living or dead are entirely figments of the reader’s own imagination

August 27, 2021 | Pratishtha Pandya

She, my fellow traveller
• New Delhi, Delhi

She, my fellow traveller

A little vignette from a train journey to mark the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11

October 11, 2021 | Amir Malik
Of Gods, an orphaned public and lost children
, and • Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh

Of Gods, an orphaned public and lost children

A Gorakhpur poet speaks out in anguish as he watches children in large numbers succumb to a deadly fever across UP’s Gorakhpur, Mathura and Firozabad districts amidst a public health system collapse

September 21, 2021 | Devesh
Keezhvenmani: huts ground to dust and ash
and • Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu

Keezhvenmani: huts ground to dust and ash

On December 25, 1968, landlords killed 44 Dalit workers in this Tamil Nadu hamlet. A poem on that tragedy in a week when Mythili Sivaraman, one of the great chroniclers of that atrocity, has passed away

June 2, 2021 | Sayani Rakshit

The king and the lone wheel of a tractor

He abhorred those pests getting adept in the dark arts of unity. A poem for the present times

May 24, 2021 | Joshua Bodhinetra
Counting the dead and lessons unlearned
and • Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Counting the dead and lessons unlearned

Why were the classrooms deserted, the playgrounds on fire? A poem for teachers lost

May 22, 2021 | Pratishtha Pandya
The King and his palace on pyre
and • New Delhi, Delhi

The King and his palace on pyre

As outrage pours in at the Centre's relentless work on the lavish Central Vista project amidst the pandemic, a poet recalls an old tale

May 12, 2021 | Sayani Rakshit
Bharat is burning, Dharmaraja!
, and • Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

Bharat is burning, Dharmaraja!

Epic characters tumble out gasping for air, but are pushed into an inferno by godlike guardians

May 5, 2021 | Anshu Malviya
‘With strangers was the journey too…’
and • Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

'With strangers was the journey too...'

The country is ablaze with a thousand bonfires of human lives. A poem about the pandemic

May 3, 2021 | Gokul G. K.

Five drops of crimson...farewell to the white

This is poetry that pierces, paintings that perforate – and a story of the pandemic

April 29, 2021 | Joshua Bodhinetra

Waiting yet again in a last long line

A lifetime spent standing in queues – then one more at the very end. A poem on the Covid-19 crisis

April 19, 2021 | Pratishtha Pandya

Crushing the flowers in the fields of sorrow

The continuing and appalling atrocities against young Dalit women in Uttar Pradesh inspired this poem

March 8, 2021 | Pratishtha Pandya
The sultan and the locust plague
and • Ahmedabad, Gujarat

The Sultan and the locust plague

It’s nearly 60 days since tens of thousands of farmers protesting against three laws affecting them swarmed to the gates of Delhi. This is a poem inspired by the official response to their protest

January 22, 2021 | Pratishtha Pandya
Hoping against hope in Kamathipura
• Central Mumbai, Maharashtra

Hoping against hope in Kamathipura

Sex workers in Kamathipura have been struggling to give their children a life of dignity. Here is a poem inspired by two stories about the realities faced by these women caught in a pandemic of misery

December 28, 200 | Pratishtha Pandya

'A couple of acres to pay my debt'

Despite the pandemic and lockdown, tens of thousands of farmers have hit the streets across India since September 25 to protest against three new farm laws. This is a poem in anguish on their struggles

November 5, 2020 | Sarbjot Singh Behl

So many Salihans now, all dreamers of dreams

A tribute to Adivasi freedom fighter Demathi Dei Sabar who led an uprising against the British in Saliha village of Odisha’s Nuapada district in 1930 – and to the many young Demathis of that region today

August 15, 2020 | Pratishtha Pandya

I am a labourer, not a liability

The mass exodus of millions of migrant labourers following the March 25 lockdown continues to fire the imagination of poets and painters. This poem rebukes our many hypocrisies in dealing with workers

June 15, 2020 | Anjum Ismail
Iron in the migrants’ soul
• Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Iron in the migrants' soul

The tragedy of the 16 migrant labourers run over by a train near Aurangabad, Maharashtra, on May 8, still haunts us. This moving poem and compelling painting remind us of that dreadful incident

May 31, 2020 | Gokul G.K.
Locked-down with blood on the tracks
• Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Locked-down with blood on the tracks

The 16 labourers – 8 of them Gond Adivasis – run over by a goods train on May 8 near Aurangabad district in Maharashtra were all in their 20s and 30s, and from Umaria and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh

May 10, 2020 | Pratishtha Pandya

The migrant march of red ants under lockdown

How long can one watch hungry migrant labourers stranded half-way from their villages when there is Chinese-Thai dinner waiting to be prepared at home? A poem that tears into indifference and inequality

May 6, 2020 | Pratishtha Pandya
Bags on their heads, fear in their hearts
• Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Bags on their heads, fear in their hearts

The Covid-19 lockdown-driven distress migrations have touched poets and artists alike. Here's a response

April 16, 2020 | Gokul G.K.

The lady and the lamp - a poem for April 5

The nine-minute lights-off, lamps-on event of April 5 impacted different people in diverse ways. This was how one poet in Ahmedabad responded to it…

April 6, 2020 | Pratishtha Pandya