I’ve written about Matwaala before—you remember, it’s a word in the language of Hindi that means someone who is drunk. It also refers to someone carefree. In a literary world, Matwaala is also that South Asian Disaspora Poets’ Collective. This group of diverse poets has an exciting festival every year.
This year, in collaboration with ThinkIndia Foundation for Smithsonian’s Beyond Bollywood Project, the collective has created a poetry wall. This wall is part of a larger two-month program India A La Art—A Cultural Collective.
Located at the newly opened Irving Museum and Archives in Irving, Texas, the wall features 24 voices from the Matwaala collective. Matwaala founder Usha Akella is an Austin-based poet whose work is included in this exhibit alongside the poem of Sara Garg, one of her high school students. The co-director of the annual festival, Pramila Venkateswaran, also has her work included in this exhibit.
And now let’s get to know more of these intriguing poets:
Ralph Nazareth serves as managing editor at Yuganta Press and runs a poetry group in Connecticut at Curley’s Diner. Along with his own poetry collections and his collaborative work with poet Duane Esposito, he has also published a Curley’s Poetry Anthology.
Other poets include Sophia Pandeya, Varsha Shah, Ravi Shankar (the poet!), Indran Amirthanayagam, Phinder Dulai, Saleem Peeradina, Vivek Sharma, Kazim Ali, Subhash Kak, Dilruba Ahmed, Sweta Vikram, and Subhashini Kaligotla.
To celebrate the opening of this poetry exhibit, co-directors Pramila Venkateswaran and Usha Akella featured at a poetry reading on February 29, 2020, at 4:00 PM. Following the reading was a conversation with ThinkIndia’s Ravi Srinivasan. They discussed the importance of poetry in the modern world, their own poetry, and the Matwaala Festival’s significance for the South Asian Diaspora and for the literary world. (Matwaala events were postponed this year due to the health emergency, but the festival is scheduled to land in Stonybrook, New York, in 2021).
Poems will be on display from February 29 through April 12, 2020, which means you can check them out during National Poetry Month. If you’re interested in being intoxicated by poetry, this exhibit and these poets will do the trick.
The Irving Archives and Museum is located at 801 W Irving Blvd, Irving, TX 75061.
For more on poetry in general, check out our archives.