Peace literature is the new boom in South Asia


A lot of literary writing recognised as peace literature is retrospective, as few writers set out with the intention to write about peace. However, in a couple of new releases, the intention is rather palpable. Sahana Ahmed’s Amity, which released in December 2022, is an anthology of 95 poems by 47 writers from France, India, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The poets reflect different ideas and interpretations of peace. All that Ahmed wanted when she first sent out the open call for contributions was honest writing about what peace meant to a person. In response, she received entries from all kinds of poets and with various poetic styles — amateurs to award-winning poets, structured to free-form poems, explicitly political to the deeply personal.

Close at its heels, another anthology titled Peace through Poetry: An Ethnographic Journey into Peace was released in January 2023 by the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Research Centre, University of Mumbai. Co-edited by Arushi Sharma, Aishe Debnath, Manisha Karne, Satishchandra Kumar, and Rajesh Kharat, this book takes a deliberate scholarly approach to peace. The ‘Write for Peace’ workshop organised by the Southasia Peace Action Network (Sapan), conducted by Pakistani poet Mohsin Tejani and his Indian counterpart Lee Krishnan in October 2022, also indicates that a certain consciousness about peace literature is emerging. The poems produced in the workshop will be compiled and released by Sapan soon.

Other anthologies such as Rivers Going Home: 71 poets in Solidarity (2022), edited by Ashwani Kumar and A Thousand Cranes for India: Reclaiming Plurality Amid Hatred, edited by Pallavi Aiyer are similarly robust in their intention to set precedents though their titles may not be as explicit….