BOOKS

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CREATION
Slow Trains Literary Journal, 6(1)
Digital chapbook, 2005.
TOUCH
Peacock Books, Mumbai: 2006
pp.144, ISBN: 81-88811-87-4
(out of print but easily available for download)
Ms MILITANCY 
Navayana, New Delhi: 2010. 
pp. 64, ISBN: 9788189059347
#ThisPoemWillProvokeYou & Other Poems
Digital chapbook, Harper21: 2015
This collection juxtaposes the romantic ideals of love with the horrors of everyday life: rape culture, state violence and the silencing free speech and artistic expression. 

TRANSLATIONS

SPARSHAM
Chintha Publishers, Trivandrum: 2012
Translated into Malayalam by VS Bindu
FRAULEIN MILITANZ
Wunderhorn, Heidelberg: 2014
Translated into German by Raphel Urweider

HIGHLIGHTS

- When Touch was published in Malayalam, taking objection to a poem on Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand), Youth Congress members burnt the book in Kollam (Kerala) and the BJP organized protests in Trivandrum.  
- In an early review of Ms Militancy, a male reviewer took issue with the perceived hetero-normativity of my poems, and labelled it "designer feminism" and "cunt-based feminism." At a panel in a lit fest in Goa, a male moderator asked me & other women poets: "What is your problem with the dick?" We really have a long fight ahead! 
- My poem Tomorrow Someone Will Arrest You, written in the aftermath of my friends being arrested under terror laws got featured/dissected by Manash Arya in the Los Angeles Review of Books

REVIEWS/QUOTES

In Meena Kandasamy’s Ms Militancy, we encounter a series of self-dramatisations, each the result of an acute consciousness of having to address the pressures of perception that attend poets, women and poets who happen to be women. [. . . ]​ Even when she rehearses a well established choreography of feminist self-assertion, she does so with a sharp eye for detail, a grasp of worldly insight, and an appetite for phrasal shape-shifting. Her poetic personae— actors, commentators, drama queens, rebels—segue through history, cinema, television, myth and the venues of metropolitan culture.

RANJIT HOSKOTE, Poet

 

Feminist and Dalit activist Meena Kandasamy recited with verve, sex-tinged verses. She spoke in a demure sexual manner and in language that seemingly brought into view stereotypes of submissive womanhood, but always ended with a twist that felt like a brutal kick to patriarchy’s testicles.

 

NIREN TOLSI, Mail & Guardian

Given her impassioned politics, it is perhaps not surprising that she wrote her first love poem only two years after she started writing her “angry, militant” verse. The poems in this edition reveal more than militant rage, however. There is fierce and exuberant wit and wordplay which make one look forward to more of Kandasamy’s work in the years to come.

ARUNDHATI SUBRAMANIAN, Poet, 
Poetry International Web

VIDEOS

REVIEWS/QUOTES

Once again after long years of search I came into contact with the power of honest poetry when I was reading Meena Kandasamy’s anthology of verse. She wove a fabric rare and strange, faintly smudged with the Indianness of her thought that saw “even the monsoons come leisurely strolling like decorated temple elephants.”

   Dying and then resurrecting herself again and again in a country that refuses to forget the unkind myths of caste and perhaps of religion, Meena carries as her twin self, her shadow the dark cynicism of youth that must help her to survive.

   Revelations come to her frequently and prophecies linger at her lips. Older by nearly half a century, I acknowledge the superiority of her poetic vision and wish her access to the magical brew of bliss and tears each true poet is forced to partake of, day after day, month after month, year after year." 

 

KAMALA DAS SURAYYA, Poet

Meena Kandasamy’s full-blooded and highly experimental poems challenge the dominant mode in contemporary Indian poetry in English: status-quoist, de-politicised, neatly sterilized. 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 socio-aesthetic practice.

   She de-romanticises the world and de-mythifies religious and literary traditions by reappropriating 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 counter-poetic community speech brimming with emancipatory energy.

 

K. SATCHIDANANDAN, Poet

Meena Kandasamy is a feisty new entrant into the duck-pool called Indian English poetry. In Touch, she makes a Rimbaudian attempt at clearing the decks and telling it straight. Anger is the engine of Kandasamy's poems and she is even more effective when that anger ripens into sarcasm. One of the best poems in the collection—“Mohandas Karamchand”—is a lampooning of Gandhi via Sylvia Plath. A perfect echo of Plath's “Daddy”, the poem shows how persuasiveness in poetry is as much a matter of cleverness with language as having a well-meaning agenda. Whatever one feels about Gandhi, lines such as the following do their work: “You need a thorough review/Your tax-free salt stimulated our wounds/We're gonna sue you, the Congress shoe” and “You dubbed us Pariahs—Harijans”/Goody-goody guys of a bigot god/Ram Ram Hey Ram –Boo”.

    She begins the collection with a flamboyant invitation— “Come/Colonise me/Creep into the hollows of my landscape. ..” She ends it with one of her startling descriptions—an account of a female ancestor who with “her rice-white teeth tore/through layers of khaki, and golden white skin to spill/ The bloodied guys of a British soldier who tried to colonise her.” I hope Meena Kandasamy goes in the direction set by that great-great-grandmother and writes more poems one can sink one's teeth into. There is enough evidence in Touch to make me confident that she will.”

ANJUM HASAN, Poet, The Hindu Literary Review