How the first US Desi National Youth Poet Laureate found her voice (2023)

“In these uncertain times, we must
must understand the bones and lessons
from those who came before.
so as not to ignore the horizons above
roaring, turbulent shores.
not to ignore the cost of
there is still so much in stock.
'Cause it's only if we keep swimming
keep going up and make us known
that we as humans
this nation
can really learn
to repair and grow.

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Meet Meera, the United States' first Asian-American and Indian-American National Youth Poet Award winner

Introspective and inspirational, these verses from sixteen-year-old Indian girl Meera Dasgupta's poem "Armor" intend healing and hope in a country ravaged by the virus and the anger of its citizens. Meera a, a high school student from New York City, is the 2020 US National Youth Poet Laureate. She won that honor in October 2020 — a title honored by poet Amanda Gorman with her reading of "The Hill We Climb" for the Biden-Harris became famous inauguration in the US Capitol. Gorman, who has since become a media sensation, was the 2017 National Youth Poet Laureate, currently held by Meera Dasgupta, a 12th grader from Queens, New York City.

While the teenage poet calls for a better America, her words also apply to other 'turbulent shores' such as her country of origin India – where, to quote Meera, 'we as people must 'stand up' and 'fix''.
(Video) National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at Presidential Inauguration

Meera Dasgupta is also the first Asian American and Indian American National Youth Poet Laureate. At the age of 16, she made history by becoming the youngest person to deserve that fame.


Where poetry meets social justice

The year-long National Youth Poet Laureate position is part of a program run by the nonprofit group Urban Word NYC that recognizes young poets with a sense of leadership, artistic merit and a commitment to civic engagement. Many organizations are co-sponsors, including Youth Speaks, the President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities, the Academy of American Poets, and the Library of Congress.

While holding the title over the course of a year, the National Youth Poet Laureate attends events across the United States to help young students find their voices through literature and poetry. Through her work, Meera aims to amplify the voices of women of color in politics and online events, especially in a pandemic year.

(Video) Alyssa Gaines is the first National Youth Poet Laureate from Indianapolis

Inspiration for Meera's poetry? Draw from personal experiences

During her high school years in New York, Meera was involved in community civic participation projects among students, such as B. an empowerment summit for girls. She is drawn to helping others and uses her flair to raise the voices of marginalized communities. Working at the intersection of poetry and social justice, she reflects on grassroots experiences to inspire change and hope.

“The future lies in young voices and we need to make them heard. My poems move at the intersection of youth, gender and intergenerational conversations. Political events can be at the forefront of what concerns me. We are political bodies that control this society. In terms of personal experiences, it can be as simple as seeing something on a train or in a coffee shop that I write in the Notes app. I go to school in Manhattan, a few blocks from City Hall. I walk past and see people organizing movements in this space. I draw on these experiences in my writing.”

Meera Dasgupta to Savita Patel for The Quint


Explain "brown girl feminism".

As a New Yorker, trains often run into Meera's poems. An interaction with a classmate's parents during one of her daily pre-COVID subway rides to school turned into a poem -‘Explain Brown Girl Feminism to a White Man on an E Train’. Abstract:
“Brown Girl Feminism. a set/ blowing tongues that are not keen on/ the Asian spices; that changes the name of this poem to Lament of a White Man in Masala Tears. but / this rickshaw has no place / for another man. Or the venti chai/latte he says looks like you. chew/"

Writing for a More Equal World: "Yo, Mama!"

One of her better known poems is"Uncle Sam's Alphabet Soup"- a modified Abecedarian on America - who talks about how the country has become a mishmash of xenophobia, categorization, suffering immigrants, inaction, guns, etc. He urges to revolutionize the "recipe".

(Video) Amanda Gorman Makes History as First National Youth Poet Laureate

Another poem that is part of Meera's popular repertoire is‘(your mom jokes)', which arose from the realization that 'dad jokes are considered funny and cute, but mom jokes are offensive'. Abstract:

“(your mom) Curie discovered that women can be radioactive.
(Yo Mama) Tubman embraced the railroad and the ground and the loud that was her limbs.
(Yo Mama) Ride swallowed the stars and grew a galaxy.
(yo mama) mirabai twisted her hands in prayer for a god she didn't fully know.
(yo mama) yousafzai found her savior behind a bullet.
(yo mama) steinum scorched the earth until nature needed not a mother but a woman.
There's a joke somewhere in this poem, but I just can't find the laughter."


Meeras Climate Change Activism

The 16-year-old poet is also a climate change activist and the UNA-USA National Global Goals Ambassador for Life on Land.

“In September (2020), before the pandemic, I witnessed the largest climate movement in NYC. We forget many problems and if we don't act now it will be too late. We have to move faster there. I saw a young child, older children and other students walking across the bridge near my school to witness - which prompted me to write an important intergenerational action poem "Line" - about how we are all one role to play in this movement. ”

Meera Dasgupta to Savita Patel for The Quint

(Video) National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman Performs At The Forbes Women's Summit | Forbes

How she found her voice

Meera recalls writing poetry throughout her elementary and middle school years, but was shy when public speaking opportunities arose. “I would read a lot; I always have. In the elementary level you have the creative freedom and I sometimes wrote 50 to 100 pages. But I was very calm. I would not willingly raise my hand. Once, when I was chosen to perform, I froze. I would tremble and forget my lines at choral recitals. Actually, I didn't go on stage until high school. It is misunderstood that when you are silent you are choosing not to be heard. In myself I wanted to speak before others.”

She found her voice through her poetry, and now the US Youth Poetry Award winner reads her poetry at events across the US, motivating young students to find their voice.

Meera is now looking forward to her first book with the title'Botanical,which is slated for an April 2021 release.

(Savita Patel is a veteran journalist and producer who has produced Worldview India, a weekly international affairs program, and Across Seven Seas, a diaspora program, both with World Report, which aired on DD. They has also reported stories for Voice of America TV from California She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author's own.The Quintneither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

(At The Quint we are only accountable to our audience. Take an active part in shaping our journalism bybecome a memberR. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Subjects:indian americanPoemsclimate change


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