Depending on how you arrived here, you might know or not know that I spent the spring of 2016 in India on a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching. My project was to design lessons for 6th-12th grade educators featuring Indian poets writing in English. On this page, you’ll find all the lessons I created, links to resources for finding new poets to feature in your own lessons, and simple .pdfs of my lessons you can download and use in your classroom.
Lessons & Links:
Jeet Thayil, shapeshifter poems, imperative sentences (good for all ages, ELL focus): Jeet Thayil Lesson
Arundhathi Sabramaniam, controlling metaphors: Arundhathi Subramaniam Lesson
Nissim Ezekiel (and Li-Young Lee), narrative poetry and international curriculum connections: Nissim Ezekiel Lesson
C.P. Surendran, irony and juxtaposition: CP Surendran Lesson
Minal Hajratwala, structure and the long poem: Minal Hajratwala Lesson
Aditi Rao, a poem offering directions: Aditi Rao Lesson Plan
Shikha Malaviya, litany: Shikha Malaviya Lesson Plan
Adil Jussawalla, thematic connections: Adil Jussawalla Lesson Plan
Arun Kolatkar, structure and free verse: Arun Kolatkar Lesson Plan
Eunice de Souza, ekphrastic poetry using Google Art Project: Eunice de Souza Lesson Plan
The Great Indian Poetry Collective: A publishing collective founded by Minal Hajratwala, Ellen Kombiyil, and Shikha Malaviya that began in Bangalore in 2013. They feature contemporary poems on their website each week, an excellent resource for finding new poems for your classroom (an app is available as well). If you’re a poet who has a connection to India or the Indian diaspora and you have a manuscript ready, consider submitting to the Emerging Poet’s Prize.
Poetry International India: Curated by poet and editor Arundhathi Subramaniam, this website provides an introduction to over 100 contemporary Indian poets and their work. For poets featured who write in a language other than English translations are available beside the work in the original language. Biographies, criticism, and links to interviews are available as well.
60 Indian Poets and The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets, both edited by Jeet Thayil: 60 Indian Poets is where I began my research before I arrived in India. Thayil’s intention was to created a definitive collection for readers that could last for at least fifteen years.. The collection is thorough and Thayil’s introduction is an illuminating portrait of the complexities of poetry in a country with so many languages. Thayil’s impressive scholarship and his commitment to seeking important out-0f-print works has preserved recent literary history and introduce new (and international) readers to significant Indian poets.
Unbound: 2,000 Years of Indian Women’s Writing, edited by Annie Zaidi: A collection that includes both poetry and prose and writers working in many different languages (translated into English), this collection provides a broad view of the history of women writing in India. The collection is sorted thematically which makes it a good teaching resource if you’re looking for a poem about a particular subject for your classroom.
These My Words: The Penguin Book of Indian Poetry, edited by Eunice De Souza and Melanie Silgardo: A broad anthology that offers significant historical poems as well.
The English Language poetry of South Asians, by Mitali Pati Wong with Syed Khwaja and Moinul Hassan: A scholarly transnational approach to the topic. The book does not collect poems, but provides context and criticism that’s especially helpful in post-secondary classes.
The Oxford Anthology of Modern Indian Poetry, edited by Vinay Dharwadker and A.K. Ramanujan: Selected on the strength of individual poems from over twenty languages, there are many classroom options in this anthology.
The Oxford Anthology of Twelve Modern Indian Poets edited by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra: First published in 1992, this anthology is organized around the formidable reputations of the poets and offers a larger selection of each poet’s work than some of the other anthologies.