The eminent poet and essayist from Allahabad, Meena Alexander, died at the age of 67 in New York on November 21. Her demise was grieved by many authors and poets. Her recent work, her eighth book of poetry, Atmospheric Embroidery, was published in June this year. Meena Alexander had won many titles and awards through her brilliant contribution to literature.

On what writing stands for her, Meena Alexander had described it in a beautiful piece. “The act of writing, it seems to me, makes up a shelter, allows space to what would otherwise be hidden, crossed out, mutilated. Sometimes writing can work toward a reparation, making a sheltering space for the mind. Yet it feeds off ruptures, tears in what might otherwise seem a seamless, oppressive fabric.”

Raised in Kerala and Sudan, Alexander completed her BA (Hons) in French and English from Khartoum University and completed her PhD from Nottingham University. She also worked as Distinguished Professor of English in the PhD programmes at Graduate Center/ Hunter College, City University of New York.

Her work and achievements

Her best known work of poetry, ‘Illiterate heart’, won the the 2002 PEN Open Book Award.

“When I read these poems even silently, I hear them. The language is so clear, the telling so clean, the feeling so deep. This is a big collection, generous and beautiful. A happiness at its darkest to read,” Grace Paley had said about Alexander’s poems.

Among her other brilliant, her autobiographical memoir, ‘Fault Lines’, was awarded by Publishers Weekly as one of the best books of 1993. Other works in poetry include Birthplace with Buried Stones, Quickly Changing River and Raw Silk. Journals like The New Yorker and Harvard Review among other had also published her work.

She was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award in Literature in 2009 from the South Asian Literary Association for her work in American literature. In 2014, she was also conferred with the title of a National Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla. Adding to that, she served as a distinguished Professor of English and Women’s Studies at the City University of New York.

Many shared the grief on her demise.

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Picture Credits: Poetry Foundation

Rachna Chandira is an intern with SheThePeople.Tv

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