Poetry. Limited Edtion. Asian American Studies. Edited by Leslie McGrath and Ravi Shankar. Foreword by Kazim Ali. Drunken Boat Media presents the inaugural title in its book series, Indian-American poet Reetika Vaziranis posthumous manuscript, RADHA SAYS. A rising star and companion of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, Vazirani was at the height of her poetic powers when she tragically ended her own life and the life of her young son, Jehan. She left behind a manuscript of poems sealed in an envelope, with which Leslie McGrath and Ravi Shankar worked to edit and to bring out her last poems.
"Reetika Vazirani was a world poet, Anglophone, partaking of and transforming myths and avatars of multiple cultures (like Lorca, Darwish, Rukeyser, Aga Shahid Ali) and yet a quintessential American poet precisely in that embrace and interrogation of 'otherness'—including a woman poet's otherness in the annals of mythmaking. In this book, tragically her last, dramatic monologues inhabit Hindu hagiography and the 'world hotel' of the American city; she speaks through the bemused 19th century Urdu poet Ghalib and the Radha of Hindu epic who is also a modern lover—with dazzling erudition, sensuality and despair. The poet's present absence haunts the reader, but the work itself is a presence that elicits our gratitude."—Marilyn Hacker
"In this posthumously edited work we feel the wonder the poet felt in the face of language and we feel too the sorrow and the pity of her passing. This volume includes poems possessed of pulsing vitality, marked by ferocious speed. We see the mythic Radha and her sisters facing the ragged thrust of emotion, the empire of love."—Meena Alexander
Author City: WASHINGTON, DC USA
Recipient of a 2003 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for her second book, WORLD HOTEL (Copper Canyon Press, 2002), and a Barnard New Women Poets Prize for White Elephants (Beacon Press, 1996), Reetika Vazirani was educated at Wellesley College and received her MFA from the University of Virginia where she was a Hoyns Fellow.
She was a recipient of a "Discovery"/The Nation Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Poets & Writers Exchange Program Award, and the Glenna Luschei/Prairie Schooner Award for her essay, "The Art of Breathing," which appears in the anthology How We Live our Yoga (Beacon Press, 2001). She was a Contributing and Advisory Editor for Shenandoah and was the guest poetry editor of two issues. She was a Book Review Editor for Callaloo and a Senior Poetry Editor of Catamaran, a journal featuring work by artists from South Asia.
Born in India in 1962 and raised in Maryland, she had served as writer-in-residence at The College of William and Mary and part of the core faculty of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshops. Reetika Vazirani died on July 16, 2003.
Reviews and Other Links
Hannah Eason @ Her Circle