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Indian-American Poet Meena Alexander Honored by Google on First Day of U.S. Asian Pacific Month

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Google is celebrating the commencement of U.S. Asian Pacific Month by commemorating acclaimed Indian-American poet Meena Alexander with a thoughtful Doodle. Alexander is renowned for her poetic works, including ‘Napally Road,’ ‘Illiterate Heart,’ and ‘Raw Silk.’

Born in 1951 in Allahabad, India, Meena Alexander spent her formative years in Sudan, where her father, a visiting meteorologist, was stationed. It was in Sudan that Alexander first discovered her passion for writing poetry in English and French. Despite her youth, Alexander’s academic aptitude shone, entering college at the young age of 13.

Attending the University of Khartoum, Alexander’s poetic talent began to blossom, with her early works being published in a local newspaper. Graduating with a degree in English and French, she later pursued a doctorate in British Romantic literature. This academic journey eventually led her back to India where she embarked on various faculty roles.

In 1979, Meena Alexander made the significant move to New York to work at Fordham University. Starting as an assistant professor, she later ascended to the esteemed position of Distinguished Professor of English at both Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Throughout her distinguished career, Alexander continued to compose evocative poetry, with her books being translated into multiple languages. Recognized for her literary achievements, she was the recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award from the South Asian Literary Association. Sadly, the prolific poet passed away in November 2018.

Reflecting on his mother’s legacy, Adam Kuruvilla Lelyveld shared, ‘Mama was an artist and a fighter. She believed deeply in the craft of her work and the search for something akin to truth.’ He praised her courage, adventurous spirit, and joyful demeanor, highlighting her exploration through various homes and the realm of poetry.

The Doodle commemorating Meena Alexander, illustrated by guest artist Anjali Vakil, depicts the poet engrossed in her writing at her desk. Vakil drew inspiration from Alexander’s own work, envisioning her intensely focused during the late hours of the night as she wove words to narrate her nomadic life.

Rachel Adams

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