Meena Kandasamy’s full-blooded and highly experimental poems challenge the dominant mode in contemporary Indian poetry in English: status-quoist, depoliticised, neatly sterilised. These caustic poems with their black humour, sharp sarcasm, tart repartees, semantic puns and semiotic plays irritate, shock and sting the readers until they are provoked into rethinking the ‘time-honoured’ traditions and entrenched hierarchies at work in contemporary society.
The poet stands myths and legends on their head to expose their regressive core. She uses words, images and metaphors as tools of subversion, asserting, in the process, her caste, gender and regional identities while also transcending them through the shared spaces of her socioaesthetic practice. She de-romanticises the world and de-mythifies religious and literary traditions by re-appropriating the hegemonic language in a heretical gesture of Promethean love for the dispossessed. The poet interrogates the tenets of a solipsistic modernism to create a counterpoetic community speech brimming with emancipatory energy.
Meena Kandasamy is a poet and translator who has performed widely in venues across the world. She is currently working on her novel, Gypsy Goddess. She lives in Chennai.
‘As a woman dalit poet, Meena Kandasamy writes angrily, often eloquently, about the politics of the body and caste in contemporary Indian society’—The Hindu
‘When she tells the self-proclaimed arbiters of morality and decency and religious practice where to get off in “Should You Take Offence…”, you want to stand up and cheer’—Timeout
‘…a sharp eye for detail, a grasp of worldly insight, and an appetite for phrasal shapeshifting’—Biblio: A Review of Books