Born in New Delhi, India and raised in Falls Church, Virginia, Vandana Khanna earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia and her MFA from Indiana University, where she was the recipient of the Yellen Fellowship in poetry. Her first collection, Train to Agra, won the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize and her second collection, Afternoon Masala, was the co-winner of the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize. Vandana’s work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in journals such as Crazyhorse, Callaloo, The Missouri Review, 32 Poems and The Indiana Review, as well as the anthologies Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation and Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry. She has taught English and Creative Writing at colleges and universities across the country including Indiana University, Pitzer College and the University of Southern California.


Afternoon Masala by Vandana Khanna Afternoon Masala

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Between Bollywood action stars and aging starlets, vegetable vendors and child brides, the poems in Afternoon Masala describe the struggle of finding a place in the world to call home.  Starting in the heated streets of Delhi and traveling through movie theaters and sound stages to kitchens and living rooms, the poems recreate a family’s immigration story, spotlighting the often troubled transformation from childhood to womanhood, from immigrant to American.  Filled with songs, spices and mantras, Afternoon Masala embraces new worlds and old rivers, lost landscapes and love letters.  Here both travelers and daughters alike reject their predetermined destinies for the distinct pleasures of a Hindi film, an unruly garden, a long-forgotten language.

Train to Agra by Vandana KhannaTrain to Agra

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Calling upon two cultures, Train to Agra meditates on the effects of displacement and expatriation on the construction of a young Indian American woman’s identity. The physical journeys undertaken by the speaker reflect her inner journey from immigrant child to Indian American woman, struggling to find her place between India and America, Krishna and Jesus, samosas and hamburgers. Traveling through her reflections on childhood, fate, faith, death, and belonging, she comes to accept her reality as a construct of lived memories and wished-for fantasies.


Raising Lily Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace

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Fightin Words: 25 Years of Provocative Poetry and Prose From “The Blue Collar” Pen

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Others Will Enter the Gates: Immigrant Poets on Writing

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Not Somewhere Else But Here: A Contemporary Anthology of Women and Place

Purchase on Amazon or Sundress Publications

Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry

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Homage To Vallejo

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Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation

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Upcoming Events

Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace–an Anthology Reading and Celebration

2016 AWP Conference
Los Angeles, CA
March 31, 2016
10:30 AM – 11:45 AM
Room 403 B, L.A. Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

2016 Split This Rock Poetry Festival

Washington, DC
April 14-17, 2016

Past Events

Prairie Gate Literary Festival

University of Minnesota Morris
Morris, MN
October 23-24, 2015

Syntax Physic Opera Reading

Denver, CO
October 15, 2015
6:30 PM
With poets Camille T. Dungy and Eleni Sikelianos

Rose O’Neill Summer Poetry Salon

Washington College
Chestertown, MD
June 23, 2015
4:30 PM
With poet Kamilah Aisha Moon

Whittier College

Whittier College
Whittier, CA
March 25, 2015
7:00 PM
With poet Yuyutsu Sharma

University of West Georgia

Carrollton, GA
November 6, 2014
7:00 PM
with novelist Angela Pneuman

Southern Festival of Books

Nashville, TN
October 10-12, 2014

Joaquin Miller Poetry Series

Rock Creek Park Nature Center
Washington D.C.
June 29, 2014
With poet Anne Sheldon

Mutations of Otherness

Women Made Gallery
Chicago, IL
June 2, 2014
With poets Erika L. Sanchez, Janeen Rastall, Renny Golden, Yunuen Rodriguez, and Mary McMyne