The Internet changed. So did Humanity.

As someone who has been online for nearly two decades, it has been a whirlwind to watch the world change, all through a blue screen. 

In 2015, I found myself starting a newsletter, which I called The Alipore Post, as a way to archive the poems, art and fascinating links the Internet was sending my way. I called it ‘a love letter to the Internet’ because of the enormous sense of wonder the digital revolution opened me up to. It was the era of poetry journals, blogs, newsletters, and the joys of discovery that StumbleUpon and Tumblr offered. Everyone had a voice, and could drive conversations that mattered to them. Suddenly, I was a writer, poet, and curator online.

It felt safe. Until it wasn’t.

A black and white photo of Rohini, smiling away from the camera with some foliage covering the right side of her face.
Rohini Kejriwal, the curator of this volume

To build a safe space online, for oneself and the community you nurture, is a massive responsibility. When someone shares their email address with you to receive a newsletter you carefully write and curate, with the inherent societal trust that you will not sell their personal data to big tech. Or when someone follows you on Instagram, willingly letting you enter their feed. What you share, what you say, what you don’t…you are influencing culture and mindsets.  

The internet opened me up to fascinating libraries at every corner. Newsletters and blogs felt like walking into the worlds of people who intrigued me without overstepping or invading their privacy. And yet, putting myself out there was and continues to be difficult. I’m a private human being who believes in vulnerability and authenticity but working behind the scenes. I don’t want to become or be seen as an influencer, or a critic of good and bad poetry. I struggle to show up for myself, just like everyone else. The newsletter is my outlet to express myself, a safe space to talk about what matters to me. Unfiltered. 

I keep returning to The Slow Media Manifesto, which says, ‘Slow Media inspire, continuously affect the users’ thoughts and actions and are still perceptible years later.’ While I love the doors that have opened up to me, allowing me to engage in meaningful collaborations with strangers seemingly with my values, I grow weary and wary of what it means to be online. 

I resonate with what author Minna Salami said in this interview: “The internet and social media held so much promise when they first launched; people truly believed that they were going to transform society. As one of the early bloggers, I remember that excitement. But what we see now is that we not only reproduced, but even increased many of the same problems that already existed. That is because the very intellect and knowledge system, the way of knowing that underpins these technologies, is flawed, divisive, and robotic. It’s lacking in soul.”

On that note, 100 ways to share your work + life that aren’t social media

One of the biggest learnings for me is that once something is out in the (digital) world, it has its own life. You can steer it, and fight the algorithm, but there’s no guarantee of how it pans out. As co-founder Charles Broskoski puts it, “I’ve come to see as an organism. We can steer it, and we can push things in certain directions, but anytime we’ve ever tried something that felt like too much, it has never worked. When we do things that align with the direction that it’s already going, that stuff is always good.” (Also check out How do you use the internet mindfully?, an excellent curation by my favorite digital resource, The Creative Independent) 

So with The Alipore Post journal, for instance, I wanted to hold space for more voices and creative expression. But with every open call, I would receive over 300 submissions. I didn’t want to be the one bearing bad news, sending rejection emails to strangers whose words do matter. I stopped, acknowledging that running a publication wasn’t my thing.

In the pandemic, I started Chitthi Exchange, a genuine effort to connect people and get them to experience the joy of having a penpal to write letters to. After pairing over 3000 strangers, I decided to shut that down too. People wrote in, and still do, asking me to restart the program. But it served its purpose, and my own time and mental well-being meant more to me than the demands of the online world. 

Sometimes, being kind online means raising your voice against the oppressors and amplifying the voices of those who feel unheard and unseen. 

Sometimes, it means saying ‘No’. To consciously choose to ignore the emails piling up in your inbox and the messages in your DMs. It may be perceived as rude, but you don’t know me nor do I owe you any explanation.  

Sometimes, it means letting go of ideas, or allowing for ideas to evolve and creating a sense of agency. Like The Alipore Post Poetry Month, where I read 100+ poems daily for 30 days the first year, and chose to share the prompt list and a hashtag the next, renouncing my curatorial ‘duty’. 

Sometimes, it means creating artworks for a cause, in solidarity, as ‘a cheeky nod to the state of censorship in our country and the increasingly aggressive curbs on our freedom of expression.’ 

via Wordswallowed on Instagram

I miss what the Internet used to be – a place of learning and sharing safely, sans trolls, death threats, internet shutdowns, propaganda and hate-spreading.

We survived a pandemic, learning recipes and tools of survival on Zoom and IG Lives until Zoom fatigue became its own reality. (And now there’s talks of 70-hour work weeks 🤢 )

I have a love-hate relationship with social media, grateful for the resources, cat videos and occasional gems but unable to comprehend how we can watch a genocide unfold in real-time and still do nothing to make it stop. 

How do we navigate the digital realm with intention?

How do we safeguard our data and opinions from the hateful trolls and hackers of the world?

How do we fight censorship and shadowbanning when the system is against truth? 

I don’t have the answers to these questions. Instead, my personal manifesto for being online:

  1. I use technology cautiously and with intent.
  2. I do not owe anyone anything online.  
  3. I do not post because I have to.
  4. I do not use click-baity tactics to be heard.
  5. I fact check and attribute, wherever necessary. 
  6. I do my best to stay on the right side of history.
  7. I consume slowly and meaningfully.
  8. I forgo the concept of Inbox Zero.
  9. I will fight for my digital rights and freedom of speech.
  10. I hold space online for what matters to me.

Mapping and negotiating power

Uncuff India Episode 10: Dimensions of conflict and peace: visioning a utopian world

Uncuff India Episode 9: Civic space and dissent: A pathway to social justice

Resting in the Resistance of Poetry

Curator’s note

In this poetry series, I have attempted to explore the relationship I share with poetry. I find poetry to be a catalyst for making one feel wholly, for evoking powerful emotions, which can incite wonder, understanding, rage and empathy – all alike. While poetry has allowed me the space to often sit with my anger and my helplessness, it has also, almost always, provided me comfort when I feel powerless in the light of the workings of the world, it has nudged me towards cathartic revelations and sensory healing.  

In experimenting with reading and writing varied forms of poetry, one could find themselves equipped with a meaning making wordsome toolkit. I engage with my poetic craft as a thought vehicle – to aid me navigate the world around me, poetic traditions, and originality. A fair deal of mind wandering and acute observation too, could come together to expand experiences from emotion to poetry. In the craft of poetry, we could perhaps find for ourselves the strength to participate in a world that otherwise gets dreary and posits itself as a hopeless, apathetic place as now. In this regard, writing poetry also becomes a potent means of resistance. 

“A poem is not just words placed on a line. It’s a cloth. Mahmoud Darwish wanted to build his home, his exile, from all the words in the world. I weave my poems with my veins. I want to build a poem like a solid home, but hopefully not with my bones.”
Mosab Abu Toha, from Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear: Poems from Gaza; Palestine A-Z (via)

Jerin Anne Jacob




I try to care softly and

chew this everyday gloom

to churn poetry


This poetry that seeks 

to sound up living into

a dreary night


A glumpy brainscape

finds its meandering way to

a lavender siesta


Only rummaging through 

words to sense-make

solicits my many ways of being


Of a mellow usher

into a gentle undercover

which boils acceptance


In a valiant stride

that belongs to the unsteady

and sought even times


What I lost to apathy

I shame through in mirroring

a poetry of lost chance




She wants to tint the hurt of this world

and oust it into deep living, to celebrate its art –

its tender multiplicity,

but she disobeys the language of colours

and dabbles in amber hues, shearing sun-

wreaths on a spherical melancholy.


Breaching greys shed okayish warmth

through yonder horizons of hopeful

spells. Generous tippings of gold fire

that is poured over the world by 

thrones jesting with power.


Casually caring in dormant ink

links you to your kindren 

bellowing in lack and less.

How do you breathe with stolen joy?


A sun-plant field arises to follow

the ache in the sky, rife in its juvenile memory

only to shower the world with kaleidoscopic sundalas


I am a poet and I read the world in metaphor.




As the day closes, I melt into a touch-me-not 

Stretched out raw on a page netted cot.


Thinking of a closeted hierarchy of words

In a poetic arc of realisation

I sing them in a word spread

Many times in lone attempt,


muting my screams amid

resounding warplanes

folding away my people 


Gently caressing the worth of my stride,

Poetry seeks my communion and doodles itself 


Inward erasure


Onto a heaving journal entry.




Oh Poetry! To you I bring in the low lying 

Anger that pinches into the dread of the day.

In joining the world around as 

A communion of beings, not a collection of objects.


I move through the world in fragments

Tripping over parts of myself along the way


Survive a luxury and humankind,

A kind beauty that is wrong in its yearning

While privileged to art an active meditation –

Syncing in the crime that puts these crying stories to sleep.


At last, when the air is easy and the light is cool

This tribute we raise to your compassion,

Your reigning solitude.




In stretching a strained memory

inside out, and lying it to dry awake,

I am threatened to see 

a waterfall lurking 

in between these lines that smell of rest.


They disappear clean as I read 

in a uniform motion that surrenders 

the terror in my heart, a solid.


Where does peace dwell?


As the mist rises and the aquatic 

sensation thrives, I am pumped by the green 

inside me, shaping forms that read like 

warm letters on the stream bed.

What would a world without oppression make you?



Mapping and negotiating power

Uncuff India Episode 10: Dimensions of conflict and peace: visioning a utopian world

Uncuff India Episode 9: Civic space and dissent: A pathway to social justice

Growing up on the other side of Childhood

                                 mummy, you once said that all things have their place in this world: 

                bicycle wheels spinning aimlessly in the afternoon sun, 

         &  raindrops,

                        giving up the sky just to get soaked in somebody’s old shirt,

even the house flies hatching all over the kitchen in december, not 

                   knowing that their first winter will also be their 


Anushka Nagarmath


  mummy, you once said that all things have their place in the world:

                          even my hands,  

pricking themselves over the fuzzy blades of the summer grass, 

                          thumbnails freshly broken from being crammed between 

my teeth all morning, still not 

                  knowing how to touch anything without hurting it,

                                                                                    even my own body

mummy, as a baby, it only 

                                        took me three months to uncurl my fingers &

                       grasp                             the shiny hoops 

                            dangling down the side of your face —

                 the universe began inside your hollowed earlobes

                                   &  i stretched it between my thumb & pinky   

            until it came to an end 

                                                 right below your chin

i remember you, pulling

                               my hands apart & putting them back

       together the right away,

                                              around the long neck of a pencil,

                & the button nose of the periwinkles,

until i could make enough room

                                   to hold the compass of your palm,

the long needle of your index finger

                             always pointing home

 mummy, these days, i stare at the wingspan of my fingers

               & wonder how much force it takes to catch

                                                                          a beetle, without crushing its soft skull                                

at school, the boys tussle in the corridors, knocking elbows against jaws,

        sticking out legs, tumbling to the ground 

                       but here, there are no apologies, only laughter —

how does it feel to grasp someone else’s knuckles 

                                               as easily as grasping the soap suds in the bathwater?

              these days, i hold my wrists under the tap until the skin

        prunes & wrinkles,

                                  until i can imagine them brushing

through the hair of the girl who sits in front of me 

                                                     without doing any harm   


mummy, do you think seashells deserve to be scooped into the softness 

                   of a toddler’s palms,

                            even with all their sharp corners?

i spent all of yesterday licking my hands clean 

                              of the stickiness 

        of the lollipops i stole 

                                        from the kitchen drawers,

sucking on the crookedness

                               of my thumbs, so they could turn warm &

mellow, like an apology 

             mummy, i am trying to only reach for what is allowed

                                  i am trying to open my fists fully, like

                          flowers, so easily


                 & hold them out for praise           

but my fingers, like spiders, 

                so easily spooked

                                                    scurry back into my pockets,


mummy, will my hands still be my hands when

                                                                 i undo the knots of her braid? will you still

rub vaseline on them when it gets really cold? 

                              i know the truth: there is no coming back from touch 

but we try   

at lunch, the girls sit in a circle and draw shapes on each other’s backs, 

             here: a star. here: a cloud. here: a butterfly

 here: a house with four windows that we will live in some day. 

               once, someone asked me to step in through the door. once, someone made me tea

                              & the teachers laughed when they saw us sipping at empty cups

            & told us to make the most of this while we still believed in it 

but what if i will always find myself in the outline of that house 

                           framed by someone else’s fingers? 

mummy, i am scared of all the things i might never outgrow 

Mapping and negotiating power

Uncuff India Episode 10: Dimensions of conflict and peace: visioning a utopian world

Uncuff India Episode 9: Civic space and dissent: A pathway to social justice