Anyone who lives in New York City knows that traveling from one borough another can be a Thing. Sure, we haul ourselves into Manhattan for work, for social events, etc., but going from Queens to Brooklyn or vice versa is a bit of an undertaking. I’m starting to really get out more, which is really encouraging! On Sunday, I made the trek to a reading at Unnameable Books in Prospect Heights. But it wasn’t just any reading, it was one for Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry, edited by Summi Kaipa, Pireeni Sundaralingam and a friend of mine, Neelanjana Banerjee.
This 200-plus page anthology is the first of its kind, uniting South Asian American voices — and also voices from the diaspora in general. As we all gathered in the basement of Unnameable Books — forced inside by the uncharacteristic May chill — Summi, Pireeni and Neela introduced four poets and also read selections from several who weren’t present. The editors are all poets with diverse backgrounds themselves, so it was really interesting to me to hear about how this book, seven years in the making, was a real labor of love. Compiling the work of 49 writers is one thing, getting it published and published in the way you want is another thing entirely.
Featuring works from both relative unknowns and established writers, Indivisible has something for everyone: traditional poetry, experimental poetry, pieces that are funny, pieces that are deep. Mona Ali, Amitava Kumar, Vijay Seshadri and Bushra Rehman read their a few of their works for us, and it was just the tip of the book’s creative iceberg.
As I took the Q train home, I flipped through the book, playing a game of “close your eyes and land on the random poet,” secretly hoping that the bright magenta cover would garner some looks, that perhaps people on the train would be interested and seek out this wonderful endeavor. A likely prospect?(No pun intended!) Probably not. But Indivisible is out there to be discovered, and seven years ago that wouldn’t have been possible!