Book Announcement: The Who-Am-I Bird by Anuradha Vijayakrishnan

Anuradha Vijayakrishnan’s debut collection of poetry, The Who-Am-I Bird, explores identity: real, mythical, assumed, desired. These poems attempt to navigate the rope-thin bridges and backwater-wide gaps between her many worlds, inner and other.

Many of these poems are simple conversations with unknown listeners. Many of them wear a mask as they narrate half stories about birds, trees, girls, rivers, babies and other creatures who insist on occupying her inner and outer-scapes. She writes about what she sees, knows, imagines and often misunderstands as she traverses roles and scripts. As she writes, she changes lenses and wigs to move between being mother, business professional, wife, daughter, woman-at-large and purveyor of urban life in general. She draws from her land of rich myth, music, dance and melancholic backyard birds that cry in her mother tongue and steps aside to let the words speak. To let everyone and everything speak while she becomes the scribe, hiding and observing, unobserved behind the ultimate mask of a face, collecting questions and preserving them with care.


Anuradha Vijayakrishnan is a writer and retail banker based in Dubai. Her work has appeared in New Writing 14, Magma, Aesthetica, Asian Cha, Asia Literary Review, Mascara, Indian Literature, Nth Position, Guftugu, Contemporary Verse 2 and The Kenyon Review. Her novel, Seeing the Girl, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and translated into Italian as Sorelle. She was nominated for Best Of The Net and Pushcart prizes.


“That Anuradha Vijayakrishnan, who has been writing for years, is coming out with her debut collection only now speaks volumes for her care and commitment to the ancient art of poetry. She defamiliarises the familiar, fills plants, birds, roads, rivers and seasons with fresh meanings by a minor change in perspective. Her contemplative self, explores the many outer and inner dimensions of our ephemeral passage across the little, beautiful planet we live in and the many layers of our identity. Anuradha steers clear of the cynicism that characterises a lot of poets of her generation in order to capture the unmistakable uniqueness of the fleeting moment. A poem like ‘The Epiphyte Speaks‘ sums up all that is best in her art: verve, pithiness, empathy.”
— K. Satchidanandan, poet and editor

“A poet who will one moment adopt the mask of a mythical bird to forestall the otherwise frequently embarrassing poetic question: Who am I?, and the next write directly about a terrorist family in a detached way that carries a knock-out punch. These poems fly about everywhere like birds and are as disconcerting.”
— John Drew, Convenor, Cambridge Poetry Workshop

“Poems of sweetness and music, warning and prayer, tough rain and straight talk—‘dreamlike pools you could walk into without drowning’.”
— Sampurna Chattarji, poet and editor

“Anuradha Vijayakrishnan is a wise, fierce, compassionate, and skilled poet who celebrates female power as movingly as any poet working in the English language.”
— Richard Katrovas, Professor of English, Western Michigan University

“…enjoying the dense and earthy imagery of the poems: there’s an exuberant fertility and fruitfulness, countered by undertones of threat and bitter poison; a compelling combination of joy and doom.”
— Martin Alexander, writer and editor

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