2016: Our Year in Poetry


It’s been an amazing year for The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective!

We chose three wonderful new manuscripts from our second manuscript contest judged by Arundhathi Subramaniam, bringing the Collective up to 9 members. We published our fourth and fifth books to critical acclaim. Vidhu Aggarwal’s The Trouble With Humpadori became our first book to sell out and go into a second printing. Rohan Chhetri’s Slow Startle has gained critical acclaim as one of the most powerful new poetic voices from India. Rohan, Jennifer Robertson and Ranjani Murali were featured in 40 Under 40: An Anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry.  Several collective poets were named to best-of-2016 lists, including from Hindu Business Line, the Boston Review, and Sundress.

We also introduced new audiences to contemporary Indian poetry. Co-founder Shikha Malaviya curated a special issue of The Missing Slate literary journal. We launched our new website and online bookstore, Greatindianpoetry.org, as well as inPoetry: The Great Indian Poetry app, available for Android devices.

Poets of the collective gave readings, workshops, and talks from Mumbai to Malibu and everywhere in between. We taught more than 100 aspiring poets at the American Consulate Library in Mumbai and a class of undergraduates at the University of California-San Francisco; set up shop at the AWP convention in Los Angeles; and led a workshop at the Split This Rock festival in Washington DC.

Below is a selected roundup of the accomplishments of each of our wonderful poets. Thanks so much to all of our volunteers, advisors, collaborators, bookstore partners, and funders who are making so much possible!  We’ll have more for you in 2017 and wish you a wonderful, creative, passionate year.  



Celebrate a new year of writing with us!
Calling all DC/AWP 2017 writers: We’re co-organizing a day of Writing the Resistance, in collaboration with Kaya Press and the Smithsonian APA Project. All writers are welcome to this free event Feb. 8. Please spread the word!




Vidhu Aggarwal’s book The Trouble With Humpadori was selected as a Small Press Distribution “HANDPICKED” selection for the month of February. She also published poems in numerous literary journals, including a visual art collaboration in the Boston Review, which was named as one of the top 25 poems of 2016, and performed Humpadori in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, and in the U.S.

Rohan Chhetri started an MFA program at Syracuse University and is the recipient of the 2016 Norman Mailer Fellowship. His book of poems, Slow Startle was launched to acclaim in India, along with poet Jeet Thayil who selected the manuscript for publication. Rohan’s work was published in Emma Press, Prelude, Vinyl, Eclectica Magazine’s Best Poetry (20th year celebration), The World That Night: 40 under 40 anthology, and Expound ( Pushcart Prize nomination).

Minal Hajratwala’s essay “A Brief Guide to Gender in India” was named one of the year’s 10 best pieces of writing on the web by the Golden Giraffes. Amidst moving from Bangalore to Los Angeles, she published an essay at the Buddhist magazine Lion’s Roar (“Queer Eye, Right View”), led a writing workshop at the Ashoka Foundation in Bangalore, co-organized literary events including the #LitInColor Write-A-Thon in Los Angeles and a Speed Coaching event in New York for writers, and mentored dozens of writers through her Write Like a Unicorn workshops and coaching.

Akhil Katyal recently completed a Writing Fellowship and Residency at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, as well as a visiting writing residency at the University of Stockton, New Jersey. His poems were published in Culture Matters: Guftugu and Himal. He read at The Poets House in New York, Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City, the Tejeshwar Singh Memorial Trust in New Delhi, and the Hyderabad Literary Festival.

Ellen Kombiyil’s chapbook, avalanche tunnel, came out with Ryga. She started an MFA program at Hunter College and had poems appear in The Fiddlehead, Drunken Boat, Prelude, The National Poetry Review, the Violence Against Women Anthology Red Sky (Sable Books), the Drought Anthology, The Absence of Something Specified, and Eclectica Magazine’s Best Poetry (20th year celebration). She spoke at the Western Maryland Independent Literature Festival on the poetics of trauma and resistance.

Shikha Malaviya was selected as Poet Laureate of the City of San Ramon, California. Her poems were featured in Mithila Review, The Missing Slate, and Scroll.in. She was a Spring and Fall session poetry mentor for AWP’s Writer-to-Writer program.

Ranjani Murali’s work was featured in Eclectica Magazine’s Best Poetry (20th year celebration), 40 Under 40: An Anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry, After Hours – The Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing, and The Bombay Literary Magazine.

Jennifer Robertson’s work was featured in 40 Under 40: An Anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry, and the Urban Myths and Legends Anthology (Emma Press). She spoke at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, PEN All-India Centre, Kitab Khana, Culture Beat, Bengaluru Poetry Festival, Times Celebrate Bandra Festival, and the Sahitya Akademi at Agartala. She continues to organize the Cappuccino Readings, is the Convener of all literary events for the PEN All-India Centre at Prithvi House, and is the Literary Event Head for the Times Celebrate Bandra Festival.