From The Wire: A native Malayalam speaker, Meena Alexander spoke French, English, Sudanese Arabic and Hindi, and it was in language that she said she found herself at home. It was language, she says, that helped her find sustenance in her art and swim in unchartered waters.
“It took me quite a while to realise that I did not have to feel strung out and lost in the swarm of multilingual syllables – rather, that the hive of language could allow me to make a strange and sweet honey, the pickings of dislocation.”
A large part of her poetry as well as prose writing therefore reflects her acute awareness of the concerns of migration, border-crossing, and political violence.
“In a time of violence,” she said in an interview with the Kenyon Review, “the task of poetry is in some way to reconcile us to our world and to allow us a measure of tenderness and grace with which to exist.”
[…] Alexander’s poetry, Ranjit Hoskote said, has a “marvellous ability to knit a sense of place with a sense of loss and hope through the most vibrant yet restrained cascade of images. Her images were lavishly visual, yet held in check by the flow of her cadence. Her language drew as much on English as it did on Hindi and Malayalam – I always heard, in her poems, patterns of breath that seemed to come from sources in Gangetic India, where she spent part of her childhood, and her ancestral Malabar.” More here.