Usha Akella has authored four books of poetry, one chapbook, and scripted/produced one musical drama. She earned an MSt. In Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge, UK. Her last poetry book, The Waiting was published by Sahitya Akademi, (India’s highest Literary authority) in 2019 followed by the Mantis Editores, Mexico edition in Spanish translated by Elsa Cross. She was selected as a Creative Ambassador for the City of Austin for 2019 & 2015 Her work has been included in the Harper Collins, India Anthology of English Poets.
Importantly, activism and community are deeply associated with Usha through poetry. She is the founder of ‘Matwaala’ the first South Asian Diaspora Poets Festival in the US (www.matwaala.com) and co-directs the festival with Pramila Venkateswaran. The festival is seriously dedicated to increasing the visibility of South Asian poets in the mainstream. She is also the founder of the Poetry Caravan in New York and Austin which takes poetry readings to the disadvantaged in women’s shelters, senior homes, hospitals. Several hundreds of readings have reached these venues via this medium. The City of Austin proclaimed January 7th as Poetry Caravan Day.
She has been published in numerous literary journals and has been invited to prestigious international poetry festivals in JLF Houston, Romania, Canada, Slovakia, Nicaragua, Macedonia, Colombia, Slovenia, India, etc. She has won literary prizes such as the Poetry Society of India 2019 Commendation prize, Nazim Hikmet award, Open Road Review Prize and Egan Memorial Prize, and earned finalist status in a few US-based contests. She read with a group of eminent South Asian Diaspora poets at the House of Lords in June 2016. She enjoys interviewing artists, scholars, and poets for reputed magazines. She has been invited as a keynote speaker to TLAN’s Power of Words conference 2019 and the Turkish Center in Austin. She has written a few quixotic nonfiction prose pieces published in The Statesman and India Currents. Her work ranges from feminist/activist to Spiritual and all things in-between.
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