Remembering the Poet, Meena Alexander

Meena Alexander was an Indian American poet, scholar, and writer. Let us remember her on the occasion of her birthday.

Meena Alexander

Meena Alexander, or Mary Elizabeth Alexander, was born on 17 February 1951 in Allahabad, India. She belonged to a Syrian Christian Family from the state of Kerala. When she was five years old her family moved to Sudan. She completed her schooling in Sudan at age 13 itself and started her PhD at a very young age of 18 in England. However, she had a breakdown at age 19 and could complete her PhD at age 22 only.

After completing her PhD, Alexander returned to India. She published her first volumes of poetry in India through the Kolkata Writers Workshop. During her time in India, she met David Lelyveld, a historian, and they got married in 1979. Meena moved to New York after her marriage. She worked in various universities as an assistant and associate professor.

Meena had begun to write poetry from a young age itself. Some of her notable works include Illiterate Heart (2002), Raw Silk (2004), House of a Thousand Doors: Poems and Prose Pieces, Stone Roots etc. Her collection of poems Raw Silk includes a set of poems that relate to the September 11 attacks and the time afterwards. Meena Alexander also published two novels, Nampally Road (1991) and Manhattan Music (1997). In 1993, Meena published her autobiographical memoir, Fault Lines.

She died in New York on 21 November 2018, at the age of 67 due to endometrial serous cancer. In 2020, her poetry collection In Praise of Fragments was published, which includes some work previously published in journals or staged as performances, as well as new material. 

Article written by

-Poorna Krishnan

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