7 Top South Asian Female Poets to Follow in 2023

Check out and follow these trailblazing female South Asian poets who are challenging and celebrating their culture through inspiring poetry.

7 Top South Asian Female Poets to Follow in 2023

Nivetha’s prose is sharp, intelligent, and insightful

Poetry is an underrated art form, said to be good for the soul. And, the South Asian female poets that promote this craft find vast ways to present issues from small everyday topics to larger issues.

There are so many ways that poetry can look and feel.

South Asia itself has a deep poetic tradition, almost as old as the continent itself. This can even be seen in the languages and culture of South Asia.

Poetry is very much alive currently, among South Asians, especially online.

Social media has been great for the sharing of poetry. Whilst it may not usually be thought of as a place for it, Instagram and Twitter are home to amazing poets.

These platforms have given way for these inspiring South Asian poets to share their amazing work that’s definitely worth a follow in 2023!

Saba Zainab 

7 Top South Asian Female Poets to Follow in 2023

Saba Zainab is an Urdu poet with over 17000 followers on Instagram.

Her poetry, with neatly handwritten Urdu, scrawled across pixels, is beautiful prose.

Whilst she usually has the English translations in the captions, it’s fair to say reading the Urdu version is especially unique.

The poetry of Urdu itself as a language is unmatched.

Urdu after all is the language of Ghazals and Qawwali – the perfect medium for Saba’s work.

Her handle “lashaoor” comes from an Urdu phrase her uncle would repeat.

This would be if anyone forgot to say something “that didn’t come to their mind [in that] moment”.

That phrase is “lashaoor ki handiya main daal do”. The phrase itself means “leave it to your subconscious mind”.

But the implication was that after some time you’ll remember what you wanted to say.

On her Instagram highlight “q&a” from May 4, 2022, she delves into how she got into poetry.

Her initial inspiration for poetry was the film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.

Saba had been struggling “with [her] studies at university”. Having felt a sense of “hopelessness”, she “one day wrote a piece about them”.

She had been “encouraged to write more often” by her sister, and it’s very clear why.

Saba’s poetry goes over topics of life, with this romantic view that seems to drizzle into every syllable. Her insight is awe-inspiring.

See her work here

Godhuli Gupta 

7 Top South Asian Female Poets to Follow in 2023

Godhuli Chatterjee Gupta is a poet of South Asian descent who resides in the US.

Gupta, with over 3900 followers, is a former third culture kid who has resided in six countries.

Motherhood is a particularly salient theme within her work. There are many complexities surrounding motherhood in South Asian culture.

On one hand, parents and elders are put on a righteous pedestal within our communal values.

Mothers are valued in their roles and children are taught to respect them from a young age.

But their roles are often seen positively when it serves patriarchal South Asian societies.

To demonstrate, there are many aspects of motherhood in South Asian culture that places undue stress on women.

This can vary from the pressure to get married and have kids, which differs for women to unpaid emotional labour.

South Asian women are often expected to do far more work as mothers than South Asian fathers.

But one mustn’t be quick to glorify the sacrifices of the South Asian mother, as Gupta’s poem “Good Mothers” warns against.

Gupta’s own motherhood is but one aspect of her life. She skilfully navigates lots of topics relating to South Asian life.

In May 2023, she published a collection of poetry called Desert Marigold, which covers issues of motherhood, culture, and identity.

The collection and her other work capture emotive themes and the challenges she has faced as a woman, a South Asian, and a mother.

But, that’s not to say some of her poetry doesn’t have empowering or positive themes, because they do, and are done in such a creative way.

Take a look for yourself here

Nivetha Tilakkumar 

7 Top South Asian Female Poets to Follow in 2023

Nivetha is someone who is incredibly prolific in numerous ways, but her poetry stands out.

She is of Sri Lankan heritage and writes about her life and South Asian culture.

With over 400 followers, her page is one of the smaller ones on this list but her artistic work spans from music to poetry to cooking. 

She writes about her experiences growing up as a Sri Lankan in the UK, dealing with racism and issues of ‘home’.

Nivetha’s prose is sharp, intelligent, and insightful.

There are not as many British Sri Lankans as other groups, and this does not stop Nivetha’s poetry from sharing her experiences. Her page is filled with these perspectives.

For instance, she has many poems with casual references to Sri Lankan culture.

She also has many poems about her family, both in the UK and in Sri Lanka. Her poetry about the Sri Lankan Civil War is gritty and shocking.

Nivetha’s honesty about that conflict and genocide is just something not widely heard of. A part of that is ignorance around these issues in the UK.

But part of that in the South Asian community comes from the predominance of India and Pakistan in the perception of South Asia. South Asia is more than these two places.

Nivetha’s love of her heritage goes beyond her poetry. Her alias Madame Kumar is all about her love of cooking and Sri Lankan food especially.

Read more of her work here

Dr. Amrin Khalil 

7 Top South Asian Female Poets to Follow in 2023

Dr. Amrin Khalil is a medical doctor with a passion for penning poetry.

Amrin’s work revolves around her musings on life, being South Asian, gender, and politics amongst a sea of soliloquies.

She has a wide range of topics she writes about and the ways she does is especially captivating and immersive.

On occasion, her poetry covers how she has grown as a person. On another, it shows her observations of daily life around her and her struggles existing as a brown girl.

Her series Confessions of a Brown Girl leaves nothing off of the table; interrogating the traditional ideas of gender.

It especially conveys how harmful the culture can be towards South Asian women and is something that needs addressing.

Telling them what they can’t do, how they must only do certain things and especially challenging beauty ideals.

Dr. Khalil also has a lot to say about her faith, and about her identity.

Having lived as a Tamil in both KSA and India, she dives right into her faith as a Muslim and her spirituality.

Sometimes sad, sometimes rage-inducing, her words and stories will always move you.

Check her out here

ZK Black 

7 Top South Asian Female Poets to Follow in 2023

Zelda Black is a Desi author and voice actor. She writes from New York and has over 1100 followers on Instagram.

Under her pen name, she writes all sorts of poetry. Her poems can be one sentence long or a larger stanza.

She has released one collection of poetry entitled Butterfly Worlds. This collection deals with darker themes than many of the poetry in this article.

Some of her work focuses on suicide, depression, and alcoholism.

Another prescient theme in Zelda’s work is heartbreak, and the feelings of loss which can be evoked when it occurs.

It’s clear that she has been through a lot, and her work seems to be a guiding light through tough times.

This is echoed in a poem of hers from April 28, 2020, as she writes:

“The most beautiful poems
Come from the most painful times.”

Zelda’s work is often filled with advice and words of encouragement, particularly seeking to invoke feelings of self-worth and love in the reader.

Feast your eyes on more of her pieces here


7 Top South Asian Female Poets to Follow in 2023

Sneha, a British Indian, writes poetry, spoken word, and narratives all about her experiences.

Her poetry cuts at the heart of the diaspora experience – being British, and Indian, and belonging.

To those outside of that experience, it may feel cliche to hear the South Asian diaspora continually talk of this.

But, the disconnect between lands and peoples cuts deep, it cannot be taken lightly and Sneha’s poetry really speaks to what this feels like.

A commenter on one of her poems about this puts it succinctly, that it’s a “constant state of limbo”.

She also covers issues of colonialism and in a post-colonial context, dissects issues such as cultural appropriation.

Sneha manages to immerse the reader into a South Asian view of things as they are and have occurred.

Colonialism is often not very thought of in white British circles, but it had such a large impact on the world.

Sneha takes no time to be direct in her thoughts about these issues. She also makes all sorts of other poetry, self-reflecting and discussing smaller everyday things as well.

One thing that is certain is that Sneha’s poetry is never shallow.

See some more of her work here

Henna Amin 

7 Top South Asian Female Poets to Follow in 2023

Henna Amin is a British Panjabi-Gujurati poet with over 6000 followers on Instagram.

Henna’s work, just like many of the poets on this list, has gone far beyond the servers of Instagram.

She has been featured in a bunch of zines, as well as having her spoken word single “She Rises” featured by DJ Bobby Friction on BBC Asian Network in 2020.

Henna’s work in general grapples with many topics.

But one of the more stand-out themes is body positivity.

South Asian culture can be particularly gruelling when it comes to bodies that fit outside of the perceived norms. It gets even worse when factoring in gender.

Henna tackles this head-on to show that no matter how you look, you should not be afraid to be proud of your body.

She also speaks of decolonising beauty, appreciating non-Eurocentric beauty standards, and especially features deemed “ethnic”.

Henna writes and has written on a range of South Asian issues and continues to be a beacon of empowerment for all.

Give her a follow here

All of the poets on this list are of a diverse South Asian heritage, and provide all sorts of insight into lots of issues.

Everyone listed is talented, versatile, and capable of expressing the deep complexities in their lives and daily observations.

If you haven’t followed them already, you are missing out.

Murthaza is a Media and Communications graduate and aspiring journalist. His include politics, photography and reading. His life motto is "Stay curious and seek knowledge wherever it leads."

Images courtesy of Instagram.

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