January Spotlight: Ankita Saxena
Updated: Apr 13, 2022
A big Happy New Year to everyone and welcome back to the pages of Very Rascals! To celebrate we are kicking off our monthly spotlight series for 2022 with the poem 'Privilege' by Ankita Saxena.
I was lucky enough to see this performed live in November last year at Gutter Street Nights. The poem made me think and it made me question - all the things we prize about writing - so we are very glad that Ankita has agreed to share it again here.
About the piece
How often do we talk about the privilege of a British passport? Of a stable household? Of living without the threat of war and natural disaster? In an age where everything is turned into a hashtag for social media, it is easy to forget the nuance of identity, how no two people's experiences are truly the same. It is not 'easy' to confront these issues, but poetry and art should never settle for 'easy'. This piece is the first of a sequence exploring and unpacking my own privilege, which in many ways defines me as much if not more than my minority status in this country.
Ankita Saxena is a British-Indian poet, performer and workshop facilitator. She is a member of the Octavia poetry collective for womxn of colour and alumnus of the Apples and Snakes Writing Room. She is a three-time commended Foyle Young Poet and former Barbican Young Poet. Her poetry is published in Wasafiri, Modern Poetry in Translation and Bath Magg. She recently co-founded and co-hosted ORIGINS Poetry Night, a sold out, multidisciplinary night raising funds and awareness for Migration Museum.
Never have I ever seen a coup
or done a bomb drill in school
I do not look at the sky expecting bullets
I do not look at the sky expecting floods
I am from a mild climate –
a family only displaced by choice,
too far west to be partitioned
too far east to be partitioned twice
In school, they ask us to find letters
our grandparents wrote from war
I ask them what war for my grandfather
has only ever built site plans
for civilian buildings in army messes
He has only ever been to the stills
of Ladakh and found Sri – which is to say
Lakshmi, which is to say, blessing
There is a violence we carry
but it does not growl like a machine gun
or burst like a firework
We too are strangers in this narrative
& yet my brothers are picked up as terrorists,
my sisters are daughters of exiled fathers
Never have I gone to a refugee camp
in Bangladesh or hidden in a neighbour’s
house in Baghdad
There are many shades of brown
& I am a privileged one –
remember this, when you pity me:
I, too, have never tasted the rage
of true grief.
I, too, have never watched my country