Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry


Newly published by the University of Arkansas Press, Indivisible brings together forty-nine American poets who trace their roots to Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. 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. The reading will feature contributors Monica Ferrell, Subhashini Kaligotla, Vikas Menon, Purvi Shah, and Sejal Shah plus the editors Neelanjana Banerjee, Summi Kaipa, and Pireeni Sundaralingam.

Monica Ferrell’s first poetry collection, Beasts for the Chase (Sarabande, 2008), won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry. She is also the author of the novel The Answer Is Always Yes (The Dial Press/Random House, 2008), which was a Borders Original Voices Selection and named among Booklist’s Top Ten Debut Novels of 2008.

Born in India, Subhashini Kaligotla was raised in the Middle East and the United States. Her poems have appeared in Catamaran, the Crab Orchard Review, the Literary Review, the New England Review, and the Western Humanities Review and have been anthologized in 60 Indian Poets (Penguin India, 2008) and The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets (Bloodaxe Books, 2008). She is a former poetry editor of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art and the current poetry editor of Catamaran: South Asian American Writing.

Vikas Menon’s poems have appeared in Bitter Oleander, Catamaran, the Literary Review, the New Delta Review, MIPOESIAS, the Toronto Review, and TriQuarterly. Menon was a finalist in the Writers at Work competition, and his first play, Lead with Your Left, was produced at the South Asian Theatre Arts Guild Experiment’s (STAGE) One Act Festival in Washington, D.C. He is a board member of Kundiman, an organization dedicated to cultivating Asian American poetry, and the literary manager of the Ruffled Feathers theater company. He recently completed work on his first collection of poetry, godflesh.

Purvi Shah’s poetry has appeared in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, the Brooklyn Review, Many Mountains Moving, the Massachusetts Review, Meridians,and the anthology Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America (Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 1996). Her first book of poems, Terrain Tracks (New Rivers Press, 2006), won the Many Voices Project prize. Shah is a former poetry editor of the Asian Pacific American Journal. Born in Ahmedabad, India, Shah lives in New York City, where she recently served for more than seven years as the executive director at Sakhi for South Asian Women, a community-based anti–domestic violence organization.

Sejal Shah’s writing has appeared in the Asian Pacific Ameri can Journal, Catamaran, the Indiana Review, the Massachusetts Review, Meridians, Pleiades, Prairie Fire, and the anthologies Under Her Skin (Seal Press, 2004) and Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America (Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 1996). Her poem “Independence, Iowa” was performed in an evening-length dance piece, “Ball’s Out: Play to Win,” presented by the Black Earth Collaborative Arts Company (Iowa).


Neelanjana Banerjee’s work has appeared in The Literary Review, Asian Pacific American Journal, Nimrod, and the anthology Desilicious. She has taught creative writing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for organizations like WritersCorps and Kearny Street Workshop. Banerjee has worked in mainstream, ethnic, and independent media for the past ten years. For over five years she helped young people tell their own stories at YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia. She is an editor and blogger with the Asian American magazine Hyphen, where she now oversees the semiannual short story contest.

Summi Kaipa is the author of three chapbooks. Kaipa was the founder and editor of Interlope, a magazine featuring innovative writing by Asian Americans (1998–2003) and served as a board member and literary curator for several San Francisco nonprofits, including the Alliance of Emerging Creative Artists (AECA), an organization promoting emerging Asian American artists, and New Langton Arts. In addition to being a writer Kaipa is a clinical psychologist. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband.

Pireeni Sundaralingam’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Ploughshares, The Progressive, and World Literature Today, as well as anthologies such as Masala (Macmillan, 2005) and Language for a New Century: Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (W.W. Norton, 2008). Educated at Oxford University, she has served on award juries for several literary organizations and festivals, including PEN Oakland and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Together with coproducer Colm Ó Riain, she commissioned and curated twenty-one poets and musicians to tell the forgotten immigration stories of America; the resulting recorded album, Bridge Across the Blue, was awarded the Potrero Nuevo Fund Prize.

This event is co-presented by Poetry Society of America. Admission for PSA members is $5.