Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Contributor Spotlight on Vandana Khanna

by Dan Froid

Vandana Khanna’s poems are full of mythological imagery, but they also refer to airplanes, city markets. Her poems are lovely and intense. Her current project, as she tells The Missouri Review, “re-imagines iconic stories central to Hindu mythology. Here, gods and goddesses fight with each other, refuse their destinies and examine their faith and their doubt within the ever-shifting landscape of the poems.” A suite of five of Khanna’s poems, fitting into this project, appears in our latest issue (Spring 2015). Check out that link to read another of those poems, “The Goddess Reveals What It Takes to Be Holy.” And for now, here’s “Because you forgot me, I am weird in the world”:

Already I’ve changed—wallflower, paper flower,
hidden and pressed. My mouth a thin-slotted
door, an opening in the brush. Find the spot
on my neck where the evil eye can leer

unhindered. The forest crowds around me
to stare, blank-eyed, free of conscience,
those eyes see what I’ve become: a bride’s
narrow fingers, my hair a bereft knot

looking for solace. I know how to tidy
my heart, bite my tart tongue until it silvers
in my mouth. The crows’ black song circles
overhead, calling me out, calling me lost.

In addition to these poems, Vandana Khanna is also the author of two poetry collections, Afternoon Masala (University of Arkansas Press, 2014) and Train to Agra (Southern Illinois University Press, 2001). Afternoon Masala is the co-winner of the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize.

For more of Khanna’s work, listen to a reading of “The Goddess Left Behind” by Rebecca Hazelton at Linebreak. Keep updated on new poems and events on her website, and follow her on Twitter. And to read Khanna’s other poems in Prairie Schooner, be sure to grab our latest issue.