R169. Matwaala: The Birth of the South Asian Diaspora Poetry Festival

Grand Salon B, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor
Thursday, March 8, 2018
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm


Usha Akella, poet and creative ambassador of the City of Austin, planned a gathering in 2015 of South Asian and SA diaspora poets. Called Matwaala, which is the Hindi word for being drunk on language, the group gathered in its inaugural edition to honor Keki Daruwalla, one of India's finest poets. In 2017, the poets gathered again in New York City to honor Saleem Peeradina and perform at the Asian American Writers Workshop. Members of Matwaala will describe the rich Indian literary scene.


Usha Akella has authored three books of poetry, one chapbook, and one musical drama. She is currently pursuing a master's in creative writing at Cambridge University, UK. She is the founder of Matwaala, the South Asian Poets Festival. She also founded the Poetry Caravan in New York and Austin, Texas.

Pramila Venkateswaran, poet laureate of Suffolk County, Long Island, WWBA Poet of the Year, and author of Thirtha, Behind Dark Waters, Draw Me Inmost, Trace, Thirteen Days to Let Go, and Slow Ripening, is an award-winning poet who teaches in SUNY, Nassau.

Ravi Shankar is a Pushcart Prize–winning poet, author/editor/publisher of twelve books, including  Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond and The Golden Shovel Anthology. He performs and teaches around the world, including at Sydney University.

Varsha Saraiya-Shah's chapbook of poetry, Voices, was published by Finishing Line Press. Her work has appeared in journals such as Asian Cha, Borderlands, Convergence, Right Hand Pointing, and UT Press. She serves on the Mutabilis Press Board and on Women in Visual And Lit. Arts Advisory Board.

Sasha Parmasad (MFA, Columbia University), award-winning novelist and poet, author of the poetry collection No Poem, editor of the chapbook Bolo Bahen! Speak Sister! (poems by DV survivors), is the associate director of the Women's Initiative and a Lead TM Teacher at the David Lynch Foundation, NYC.


March 7–10, 2018
Tampa, FL

Tampa Convention Center & Marriott Tampa Waterside