In honoring ordinary people and gestures, Chang reminds us of things taken for granted, of cramped train rides and eavesdropped conversations, the sounds and smells of cityscapes and markets.
You spoke through the impossible and you teach us once more how a story, through a faithful, stubborn kind of continuation, can be like a collective strength.
After her death, the class continued to meet every week until the end of the semester. What else could we do?
As I celebrate Meena Alexander’s life, and revisit her books, I’m acutely aware of my mistaken impression that there would be so much more time in the future to get to know one another better.
Malayalam, English, Arabic, French: Meena Alexander inhabited all these languages, reminding her of the many homes she had lived in and experienced.
I read and re-read Atmospheric Embroidery so that I could ask her something that would be of interest. But I did not get to ask those questions. Her answers are in the poems.
The opening lines of Manhattan Music are, of course, like a poem: “A summer ago I thought I would lose my mind. Riding the subway. Up and down. Down and up…”
As I looked at her notes from my papers in her class and her emails to me, I realized she had so much belief in my work. She was a teacher who had so much belief in her students.
Meena was the very first poet I discovered who named places and sounds and smells and sights from Kerala, the emerald green, southern-most coast of India.
I came into this world in an Allahabad hospital / In the absence of reliable ghosts I made aria / I watch your hands at the keyboard / Memory is all you have.
Meena Alexander taught us that our stories required narratives that were true to the ruptures of our lives.
Meena Alexander’s work shimmered with beauty but always—always—the tension of violence quivered just beneath
If I dissolve when the push of the world comes in on me, I know now it is a form of longing, or rather, a longing for form
Essays and remembrances for the late poet, scholar, and essayist Meena Alexander (1951-2018)