Vandana Kumar is a gifted polyglot poet, academic and passionate writer and educator. Indie Blu(e)’s Candice Daquin and Kumar wrote to each other in French when they met through The Kali Project, mutually appreciating the love of language. Kumar is a self-effacing, gifted writer whose work is intense and informed by her travails and extensive knowledge of language and life. It’s impossible not to appreciate the widely-traveled, social-awareness in her perceptive poetry and prose. Kumar is a natural writer, but one whose love of writing has been honed by her journey with words and learning.
Kumar tells us: “(Today) It’s a sunless day in the cold capital of India. Somewhere I hear strains of ‘The Moody Blues’ number ‘Nights In White Satin’… I start to hum along “Letters I’ve written never meaning to send”… I realize my poetry journey could well have started with “Poems I’ve written never meaning to send.”
“I would write poetry and forward it to friends and they would ask me to send it to some international websites or make submissions to competitive anthologies etc., but I wouldn’t. Until a friend took matters into own her hands by submitting my work without my knowledge, to ‘The All India Poetry Competition in 2017’ which was organized by the ‘All India Poetry Society of India’ and I found to my delight, that I was included in it.”
“This started my journey of being published in other anthologies and national and international websites. It has been a rewarding journey these past few years to be accepted and published in print and online magazines, journals and websites ranging from Singapore to US and Canada and off course, India.” During this time Indie Blu(e) became aware of Kumar for her notable submissions to our anthologies: The Kali Project and But You Don’t Look Sick.
“Meanwhile, my other interests moved in parallel. I had inherited a love for the cinema from my father and missed him acutely as I became a co-producer of a crowd funded film; ‘Ek Betuke Aadmi Ki Afrah Raatein’. The film was adapted from completely different stories by Dostoevsky and Prem Chand. The film’s director, Sharad Raj’s Souvenir de mes nuits blanches premiered at the ‘Festival des Cinémas Indiens de Toulouse’ (Toulouse Indian Film Festival). Sharad Raj, runs a cinema website and I have started writing articles for this website on the subject of cinema.”
“The poetry of cinema is what fascinates me. Some of my poem titles are inspired by films and I wrote a little poem in an article on Abbas Kiarostami’s film ‘Where Is the friend’s home?’ Abbas Kiarostami is a legendary film director as well as a poet from Iran.” Kumar brings up the long-established linkage between cinema and poetry, with many films throughout the 1900’s and onward, being deeply influenced by poetry; tying the two art forms together indelibly.
“Then the Pandemic started and we were all locked up in our respective homes and like so many of us, I turned more than ever to Poetry. My poetry found a home in these pandemic years in places like the 200 year old ‘Madras Courier’, Singapore’s ‘Borderless Journal’, ‘Lothlorien’, ‘Fasihi’, UK based ‘Destiny poets’ got me a couple of special mentions and Poet of the Month in March 2021, ‘The Grey Sparrow Journal’, ‘Piker Press’, ‘Dissent Voices’ to name a few.”
Kumar was also included in a world literature series initiative where she was interviewed among many global poets. The theme of the book was critical thought in the 21st Century. She also secured an advance booking for being published in ‘Stray Dog’ in 2020. Her poem will appear in their journal this summer.
One of the most gratifying things recently for Kumar was being editor of the print anthology called “Meet the poets of today – contemporary voices”. This was in Kumar’s words; “truly my pandemic baby.” She worked on this with Sharad Raj, a dear friend of hers and the director of the film she helped crowd fund. Cocoa Butter, the literary division of his film company wanted to tap hidden talent in remote corners of India. A lot of people participated in the competition from far flung places where they often do not have time to access anything beyond a WhatsApp.
The advantage of this – a pure submission process where submissions were far away from some of the more nepotistic or mutual admiration societies that exist on main-stream social media. During this time of working on this project, the pandemic made things topsy-turvy at times with the unpredictable always omnipresent, and the selection process was delayed. The judges were in three different parts of the World coping with the impact of the numbing second wave and lockdowns. Against all the odds, the book was launched in November 2021.
Kumar says: “Finally – last but never least, I must mention my very special relationship with Indie Blu(e) Publishing. I was thrilled to find two of my poems in their epic Indian feminist anthology, The Kali Project: Invoking The Goddess Within –. It was a finalist in the prestigious National Indie Excellence Awards 2021’. I noticed recently The Kali Project anthology is part of the ‘North Carolina Regional Library and I’m so proud to have been included in this respected body of work.”
“In November 2021, a poem of mine featured again in Indie Blu(e)’s anthology But You Don’t Look Sick. This anthology looked at invisible physical illness and the struggles many go through when nobody may see that struggle from the outside. I submitted to the anthology as the theme fascinated me. “
“Being chronically asthmatic and having bouts of severe lung infections throughout my life I could relate to it. My prosthetic eye frequently gets infected and leads to debilitating headaches and watering. These are things – things that don’t usually qualify as being ill but they can stop you in your tracks. The anthology has been divided into categories and poems on heart, lungs and varied different ailments are there.”
“It really got me thinking about how many of us go through our daily routine, mess and chaos- hiding demons, debilitating illness of all kinds, daily chronic issues that people dismiss as ‘Oh! Plain Drama’ or ‘she is always sick”.
“(I found that) Indie Blu(e) builds a warm relationship with each of their contributing poets. The way they accept your poems to their announcements of launch and publicity. It’s like a family that gives home to your poetry in a very special way. I’m really proud to be part of this and I aim to continue writing and publishing my work as I have been, undeterred and glad to be part of the poetry community at large.”
Kumar’s work can be found at MAD SWIRL HERE
also MADRAS COURIER HERE
also DISSIDENT VOICE (the black history of music) HERE
Vandana Kumar is a bon vivant who loves travelling, working with young minds and exploring possibilities beyond the ordinary. She is a middle School French teacher in New Delhi. Her passions include playing the piano and quizzing. Further she is a French translator for various reputed companies and publishers. An educator with over 20 years of experience, she is also a recruitment consultant.
Her poems have been published in international journals like ‘Mad Swirl’, ‘Lothlorien Poetry Journal’, ‘The Quiver Review’, Toronto based ‘Scarlet Leaf Review’, Philadelphia based ‘North of Oxford’, Saint Paul, Minnesota based ‘Grey Sparrow Journal’, California based ‘The Piker Press’, Canada based ‘Halcyon Days’, Santa Rosa, California based ‘Dissident Voice’, Founder’s favourites, W-Poesis etc.
She has also been published in the prestigious ‘Madras Courier’. She translated one of Dr. Ampat Koshy’s English Poems into French which appeared in the ‘Fasihi magazine’. Five of her own poems have also featured in the ‘Fasihi magazine’. She has featured in the book ‘POSTMODERN VOICES – Volume 4’, which is a part of the ‘World Literature India Series’, where she along with five other poets from around the World have been interviewed and it carries fifteen of her poems. She was a jury member for the ‘All India Poetry Competition’ organized by ‘Cocoa-Butter’ and also co-edited their debut print anthology that resulted from this competition.
Apart from poetry she also writes articles on cinema. Her articles on cinema have appeared on websites and journals like ‘Just-cinema’, ‘Daily Eye’, ‘The Free Press Journal’, ‘Boloji.com’ and ‘The Artamour’. Poetry for Vandana Kumar, is her stress buster, her flight of fancy and strangely, what keeps her rooted too.
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Vandana Kumar – @ Destiny Poets HERE.