Ashwani Kumar is Mumbai- based Indian English poet, writer, and professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences. His anthologies ‘My Grandfather’s Imaginary Typewriter’ with a prolegomenon by Ashis Nandy and ‘Banaras and the Other’ have been published by Yeti Books and Poetrywala. His poems-translated in Indian languages and Hungarian, are noted for ‘lyrical celebration’ of garbled voices of memory and their subversive ‘whimsy’ quality. His ‘Banaras and the Other’, first of a trilogy on religious cities, was long listed for 1stJayadev National Poetry Award 2017. Select cantos of ‘Banaras and the Other’ were performed by Hungarian band Kalaka at the Times Lit Fest 2017 in Mumbai. He is currently working on Ayodhya, second of Banaras trilogy, his non- fiction book ‘Biharis’ (forthcoming, Aleph Books) and a special volume on Tagore titled ‘Architecture of Alphabets’/ Betűrendek architektúrája in Hungarian (forthcoming 2019). He is co-founder of Indian Novels Collective to bring classic novels of Indian Literature to English readers. He is also a visiting fellow at leading global universities and think tanks including London School of Economics, German Development Institute, Korea Development Institute, University of Sussex etc. He has also served as member of Central Employment Guarantee Council (Government of India). His major scholarly contributions include ‘Community Warriors’ (Anthem Press; London), ‘Power Shifts and Global Governance’ (Anthem Press; London), ‘Global Civil Society: Poverty and Activism’ (Sage International; London) and ‘Migration, Mobility and Citizenship’ (forthcoming, Routledge). He is recipient of Azim Premji foundation’s research grant and the Indian Council of Social Science Research has awarded him the prestigious ‘Senior Fellowship’ for a book-length study of welfare regimes in India. At leisure, he writes articles and reviews for Financial Express, the Print, Business Standard, The Hindu, Indian Express, DNA, Open Democracy, among others.
Ashwani Kumar’s poems in ‘Banaras and The Other” are a mischievous irreverence turned at times to the present and at times to the past. The personal and the political, memories and nostalgia, mythical characters and contemporary parodies mix and mingle in these poems in diverse proportions to produce a rare poetic energy that belongs entirely to our times of pain and paradox. –K. Satchidanandan
Ashwani Kumar’s Banaras and the Other captivates us as a delightful romp through myth, folklore and history. Read past the revelry, however, and you will see that it engages passionately and provocatively with the fissured, schismatic scenarios of 21st century India.–Ranjit Hoskote