The Usawa Literary Review

Usawa in Swahili means equality. The Usawa Literary Review is a bi-annual English language literary magazine dedicated to feminist literature and writings by and about underrepresented communities. We publish poetry, fiction, nonfiction, reviews and interviews that question hierarchies, hegemonies and naturalized biases.

There are many feminisms - we live and learn. In the face of discrimination and violence based on gender, sexuality, colour, caste, religion, class... we believe in the persuasive humility of artistic expression, and carry writing that responds to the inherent violence of inequality. Have you produced or come across writing that provokes uncomfortable questions and gets us to re-examine our silences? Please share it with us and allow us to share it with our readers.

Based out of Mumbai, India, Usawa is a part of an ongoing global movement toward a more equitable world.

Usawa was founded by Lavanya-Shanbhogue Arvind and Smita Sahay in 2018.


SMITA SAHAY is a writer and poet based in Mumbai, India. She is served as the Associate Editor of Veils, Halos & Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women, and is a Visiting Faculty at Whistling Woods International. Write to her at


Kinshuk Gupta uses the scalpel of his pen to write about his experiences as an undergraduate medical student. He was longlisted for the People Need Change Poetry Contest (2020) organized by The Poetry Society, UK. His haiku have been nominated for the Touchstone Awards and the Red Moon Anthology. His work can be read or forthcoming in The Hindu, The Hindu BL, Times of India, The Quint, Inklette, Good River Review, Rattle, Modern Haiku, Haiku Foundation, Contemporary Haibun Online, among others. He is a blogger for Times of India and a Creative Writing Intern for Posham Pa. He edits poetry for Jaggery Lit and Mithila Review.


K Srilata was writer in residence at Sangam house, India, Yeonhui Art space, Seoul and the University of Stirling, Scotland. She teaches Literature and Creative Writing at IIT Madras. Her debut novel Table for Four (Penguin, India) was long listed in 2009 for the Man Asian literary prize. Srilata is the c0-editor of the anthologies The Rapids of a Great River: The Penguin Book of Tamil Poetry, Short Fiction from South India (OUP), All the Worlds Between: A Collaborative Poetry Project Between India and Ireland (Yoda) and Lifescapes: Interviews with Contemporary Women Writers from Tamilnadu (Women Unlimited). Her book The Other Half of the Coconut: Women Writing Self-Respect History was re-issued as an e-book by Zubaan in 2020. She has five poetry collections, the latest of which, The Unmistakable Presence of Absent Humans was published by Poetrywala, Mumbai in 2019. Her translations include Vatsala’s novels Once there was a Girl (Writers Workshop) and The Scent of Happiness (Ratna Books, 2021). A multi-genre anthology on the disability experience is forthcoming from Amazon/Westland later this year.


VINITA AGRAWAL Author of four books of poetry, - Two Full Moons (Bombaykala Books), Words Not Spoken (Brown Critique), The Longest Pleasure (Finishing Line Press) and The Silk Of Hunger (AuthorsPress), Vinita is an award winning poet, editor, translator and curator. Joint Recipient of the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2018 and winner of the Gayatri GaMarsh Memorial Award for Literary Excellence, USA, 2015. She is Poetry Editor with Usawa Literary Review. Her work has been widely published and anthologised. Her poem won a prize for the Moon Anthology on the Moon by TallGrass Writers Guild, Chicago 2017. More recently her poem won a special mention in the Hawker Prize for best South Asian poetry. She has contributed a monthly column on Asian Poets on the literary blog of the Hamline university, Saint Paul, USA in 2016-17. In September 2020, she edited an anthology on climate change titled Open Your Eyes (pub. Hawakal). She judged the RLFPA poetry contest (International Prize) in 2016 and co judged the Asian Cha’s poetry contest on The Other Side ‘ in 2015. She is on the Advisory Board of the Tagore Literary Prize. She has curated literary events for PEN Mumbai. She can be reached at Write to her at


BABITHA MARINA JUSTIN is an academic, a poet and an artist. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Jaggery, The Paragon Press, Fulcrum, The Scriblerus, Trampset, Indian Literature, Constellations, etc. Her books are: Of Fireflies, Guns and the Hills (2015), I Cook My Own Feast (2019), salt, pepper and silverlinings: celebrating our grandmothers ( an international anthology on grandmothers, 2019), Of Canons and Trauma (2017) and Humour: Texts and Contexts (2017). Write to her at


SHOBHANA KUMAR has two books of poetry and seven works of non-fiction covering industrial, institutional and corporate histories. She is Associate Editor of Yavanika Press founded by Shloka Shankar and co-curator at The Quarantine Train, founded by Arjun Rajendran. She is deeply influenced by haikai writing. Her book of haibun, ‘A Sky Full of Bucket Lists’ was published by Red River in 2021 to critical acclaim. Her poem, 'Just Married' was selected and translated by Gulzar in his seminal anthology,’365 Poems’, and published by HarperCollins in 2020. She works in the spaces of education, branding and communication and social work. She is founder of Small Differences, an NGO that works with vulnerable communities.


ANKUSH BANERJEE's (he/him) debut volume of poetry, An Essence of Eternity, was published by Sahitya Akademi in 2016. He is the three time recipient of the USI Gold Medal for his essays on Military Ethics and Leadership. His poem, ‘Righteous among the Nations’ was the winner of 2019 All India Poetry Prize. His poems appear in Indian Literature, Collateral, Eclectica, Jaggery Lit, and TBLM among others, and have been anthologised in the Best Asian Poetry 2021, Yearbook of Indian Poetry 2020 & 2021, and Converse: Contemporary Poetry in English by Indians (2022). Some of his review-essays can be found at Tupelo Quarterly, Eclectica, Kitaab, and Usawa
Write to him at