Illiterate Heart

Trade Paper – $16.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-5118-5

Cloth Text – $49.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-5117-8
Publication Date
April 2002
Page Count
106 pages
Trim Size
5 1/2 x 9

Illiterate Heart

Meena Alexander

Winner of the 2002 PEN Open Book Award

Recipient of 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship

Meena Alexander's poetry emerges as a consciousness moving between the worlds of memory and the present, enhanced by multiple languages. Her experience of exile is translated into the intimate exploration of her connections to both India and America. In one poem the thirteenth-century Persian poet Rumi visits with her while she speaks on the phone in her New York apartment, and in another she evokes fellow-poet Allen Ginsberg in the India she herself has left behind. Drawing on the fascinating images and languages of her dual life, Alexander deftly weaves together contradictory geographies, thoughts, and feelings.

About the Author

Meena Alexander was born in Allahabad, India. She has published numerous books, including two novels, Manhattan Music and Nampally Road, and a book of poems and essays, The Shock of Arrival: Reflections on Postcolonial Experience. Her memoir, Fault Lines, was chosen as one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 1993. The Royal Festival Hall in London commissioned a poem by her on New York for Poetry International 2002. Alexander lives in New York City, where she is a Distinguished Professor of English at Hunter College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.
"When I read these poems even silently, I hear them. The language is so clear, the telling so clean, the feeling so deep. This is a big collection, generous, and beautiful. A happiness at its darkest to read." --Grace Paley
"Meena Alexander's lines are like 'fire in an old man's sleeve, / coiled rosebuds struck from a branch. / Our earthly world slit open.' These are luminous poems."
--Arthur Sze, author of The Redshifting Web