By Awanthi Vardaraj
These female Indian poets were all trailblazers; they were among the first, and it is on their shoulders that I stood when I first began writing poetry as a child.
I used to read poetry from the subcontinent as a child and marvel at the imagery it conjured up for me. As a little girl who often felt at odds with her culture and her identity, it was words that often grounded me, and those words came in the form of books and poetry. I wish I could tell you that in the field of literature women were afforded equal opportunities, but this was not the case. The women who wrote anyway did so with the full knowledge that they were the exception, not the norm. They left an indelible mark on literature in general, and Indian literature in particular.
Something that saddens me, therefore, is how rarely people seem to reminisce about female Indian poets. When I ask people what their favourite poems or verses are, nobody mentions Sarojini Naidu, Kamala Surayya, Amrita Pritam or Toru Dutt. They were all trailblazers; they were among the first, and it is on their shoulders that I stood when I first began writing poetry as a child. It is on their shoulders I stand today as a poet, a writer and an essayist. I am not ignorant of their contributions, and nor should you be. Read more