Spotlight on Indian Languages: Part IV

Our suffering / turned into / bruises on our backs

The ongoing blog feature on Indian poetry, tied to our Special Feature in the Winter 2017 Issue of Asymptote, has reached its fourth installment. This time, we present a poem by Gujarati Dalit poet Priyanka Kalpit. She is one of the very few women writing Dalit poetry in Gujarat today. Her text below was translated by Gopika Jadeja.


Bitter crop

Our ancestors
sowed their sweat

In return
we reaped
bonded labour

Our suffering
turned into
bruises on our backs

At times, that searing pain
turns into a firefly
and burns

For a little while
the horizon of the soul
turns burning red.



Priyanka Kalpit is one of the very few women writing Dalit poetry in Gujarati. She has received the Dr. Ramanika Gupta Award from the Gujarat Sahitya Sangam and also the Kabir Award for Literature from the Government of Gujarat. Translations of Priyanka’s work have appeared in Indian Literature, Muse India, and other journals and anthologies. Her collections of poetry include Haanshiya ma hoon (2001) and Ghasarko (2011). A collection of haikus and another of Gujarati poetry with a focus on women and the self are forthcoming. She lives in Mehsana, Gujarat.

Gopika Jadeja is a poet and translator from India who writes in both English and Gujarati. She publishes and edits a print journal and series of pamphlets for the performance-publishing project, “Five Issues.” Her work has been published in AsymptoteThe WolfIndian LiteratureCha: An Asian Literary JournalVahi, and Sahcharya, among others. Gopika is currently working on English translations of poetry from Gujarat, besides writing her PhD thesis on Dalit literature in Gujarat.


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