A writer, poet and activist of Indian origin, Prerna Bakshi is currently somewhere else. Since she has a stunning poem in our collection, America Is Not The World, we wondered where. We had other questions too.
Who are you? I am a writer, poet and activist of Indian origin.
And where in the world are you? Currently based in Macao.
What is the best thing about your country? The resistance movements of India.
And the worst? How the state machinery continues to crush them.
How has your country shaped you? India, just like any other country, is full of contradictions. These contradictions that make up the country where I come from and the sheer naked violence that people are subjected to on a daily basis – those that live on the margins, those that happen to be some of the most oppressed people, being on the receiving end of one of the most brutal state oppression, yet fighting on – is what has shaped me.
Tell us about your favorite place in the world. Any place where I can read/write in peace.
Tell us about your poem in America Is Not the World. The poem thirst is about Partition of India/Punjab, an event of momentous significance, as it was responsible for causing the greatest transmigration in human history, leading to the deaths and displacements of millions of people across South Asia, a crucial part of history that is seldom recognized, particularly in the West. It is my hope that thirst will offer a little bit of insight to those not familiar with this part of history. This poem is deeply personal (as much as political) as my family was directly affected by the Partition. Both my maternal and paternal families had witnessed it. When the calls for Partition echoed, they had to flee Pakistan. This poem is a meditation on the chaos and political climate that existed at the time.
Tell us about a writer in your country that we should know about. I have always admired poets like Amrita Pritam, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Paash. They were revolutionary poets, though they might not be with us today, but their works continue to inspire us all – and, in these dark times, we need them more than ever.
What else is going on? I just had my first full-length poetry collection released early this year, entitled, Burnt Rotis, With Love. ‘Burnt Rotis, With Love’ was recently longlisted for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK. For more information about the book, please click here – http://prernabakshi.strikingly.com/
What is next for you? Finishing my PhD.
Tell us a secret. Secrets are not meant to be shared.
Give us a song. Hum Dekhenge by Faiz Ahmad Faiz sung by Iqbal Bano. Lyrics and translation here.
Prerna Bakshi is a writer, poet and activist of Indian origin, currently based in Macao. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of the recently released full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, long-listed for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK, which is available to order here. Her work has been published widely, most recently in Red Wedge Magazine, Off the Coast, TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism and Peril magazine: Asian-Australian Arts & Culture, as well as anthologized in several collections. Find out more about her and her work at http://prernabakshi.strikingly.com/