The seed of SAPNE was sown in 1997 through an India Poetry Reading event organized at Harvard University on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of India's independence. The event was sponsored by the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Harvard. Professor Leonard van de Kuijp was the Chairperson. Late Mrs. Katherine Galbraith who had lived India and loved her culture, was instrumental in motivating and making efforts towards the outreach activities on behalf of the Department. Late Swami Sarvagatananda, the monk at Ramakrishan Vedanta Society in Boston presided over the first poetry event. The event was entitled "Freedom" and was held in May, 1997. Memorable poems used during the Indian freedom struggle were recited by members of the Indian community in their respective languages. India Poetry Reading as an annual event has continued to be hosted at Harvard University and is currently supported by the Department of South Asian Studies and South Asia Institute. Dr. Sajed Kamal, Mrs. Maya De, Mr. Alok De and Mrs. Shantamma Prakash, who participated in the first India Poetry event continue to be active in the poetry reading events and in the activities of SAPNE.
Events of 2001 and Brother Blue
In 2001, the United States was attacked by terrorists through dare-devil acts of courage and destruction. The South Asian community because of their dress and other cultural signatures became targets of hate and abuse by the public. Dr Bijoy Misra reoriented India poetry to become a forum for South Asian voice. Original poems were encouraged to be written and recited. Oppression and subjugation in the world found voice among the poets, many of whom had been activists in their life. The celebrated African American street poet and performer late Dr Hugh Morgan Hill "Brother Blue" and his wife Mrs. Ruth Hill joined and became friends to the local poets. Brother Blue helped them find their voice to render human emotion in their language. Mr Jaspal singh and Mr Subhash Sehgal from the local South Asia Center pitched in to invite many other language poets to the events.
Language Poets from South Asia
By 2006, various established language poets like Dr Pramod Thaker, Mr Chandrakant Shah,
Mr. Badiuzzaman Nasim, Mr. Jayent Dave, Dr. Shiva Gautam, Mr. Achyut Adhikary and many younger poets joined in and we had representation of the whole spectrum of South Asian languages. In 2008, we thought of forming a group to meet more frequently to understand the langauges and to understand each other's thoughts. The first meeting of the new group was held in Lincoln on August 2, 2008 with about thirty poets participating. The group has continued to meet every quarter since, mostly in Lincoln and occasionally in Andover, Somerville, Sharon and Lexington. The name South Asian Poets of New England (SAPNE) was chosen through the discussion among the poets. Dr. Bijoy Misra acts as the Convener of the group with support from Mr. Chandrakant Shah and other volunteers. Meeting reports at various times have been prepared by Mr. Alok De, Dr. R. Balachandra, Dr. Pramod Thaker, Dr. Sajed Kamal, Ms. Sunayana Kachroo, Mr. Janmejay Shishupal and others. The news media in the Boston area like Lokvani.com amd IndiaNewEngland.com have been helpful to reach out to the community and disseminating news. Ms. Meena Hewett and Ms. Nora Maginn of Harvard South Asia Institute have been particularly helpful in hosting the annual events at the university.
These pages were prepared by Dr Bijoy Misra in December, 2014 with input from other poets. Mr. Amandeep Singh and Mr Vijay Bijayawada maintain the site with the help of Mr. Chandrakant Shah.