Indian American poet Meena Alexander honored with Google Doodle

Indian American poet Meena Alexander honored with Google DoodleIndian American poet Meena Alexander honored with Google Doodle
via Google
Google Doodle honors Meena Alexander as Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month kicked off on Wednesday.
Key points:
  • Google released a tribute Doodle to Indian American poet Meena Alexander on the first day of AANHPI Heritage Month on Wednesday. The Doodle, illustrated by Los Angeles-based guest artist Anjali Vakil, portrays Alexander writing at her desk, inspired by her nomadic life and poetry.
  • Meena Alexander died on Nov. 21, 2018, at 67, leaving behind a legacy of poetry that explores themes of trauma and migration.
  • AANHPI Heritage Month is celebrated in May in the United States, honoring the contributions and culture of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.
What they’re saying:
  • Vakil noted that she finds the subject of the Doodle relatable, sharing, “Being a South Asian myself, I can relate deeply to her life and works.”
  • She also admitted that she was nervous for the project, as she felt it was an honor to be given the chance to pay homage to Alexander. Vakil said, “I wanted to be sure that no matter what I created for her, it would respect and celebrate the honesty, vulnerability and beauty of Meena’s writing.”
  • In a statement, Alexander’s son Adam Kuruvilla Lelyveld described his mother as an “artist and a fighter” who “believed deeply in the craft of her work and the search for something akin to truth.”
  • “On this day of celebration of Asian American identity, one can certainly say she built and embodied an ‘Indian-American’ self, part of a larger South Asian diaspora, in turn part of a vast continent of peoples who have settled here,” Lelyveld said. “In this time of great conflict and weariness, Mama would have spoken for the voiceless through her art; against cruelty, greed, and narrow-mindedness, with great empathy.”
The details:
  • Born in 1951 in Allahabad, India, Alexander spent her youth in Sudan, where her father was stationed as a visiting meteorologist.
  • Alexander began writing poems in English and French and later received a bachelor’s degree in those languages from Khartoum University, where she enrolled at only 13 years old. After pursuing a PhD at Nottingham University in England, Alexander returned to India with a doctorate in British Romantic literature. While writing poetry, she held faculty positions in Delhi and Hyderabad.
  • She moved to New York in 1979 to work at Fordham University and later became a distinguished professor of English at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Lelyveld shared in the statement that Alexander, along with her husband David, moved to the United States while she was pregnant.
  • Alexander’s collections of poetry include “Atmospheric Embroidery,” “Birthplace with Buried Stones” and “Quickly Changing River.”
  • Her career was marked by numerous awards and fellowships, including recognition from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Council for Research on Women, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Fulbright Foundation.
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