Latest News: Posts Tagged ‘salma’

“Trailblazing… A literary sensation” — SALMA authors Rajathi Salma and Kim Longinotto featured in Mint

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

“Rajathi Salma is one of Tamil Nadu’s most important contemporary poets, as well as a trailblazing gender activist and a member of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Overcoming orthodoxy, marital violence and imprisonment in her own home, Salma became a literary sensation not just in Tamil Nadu but globally, and in translation.”

Read the full article here.

“[Salma’s] extraordinary story is one of courage and resilience” — SALMA authors Rajathi Salma and Kim Longinotto featured in The Hindu

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

“Against the odds, Salma became a famous Tamil poet: the first step to discovering her own freedom and challenging the traditions and code of conduct in her village. Her extraordinary story is one of courage and resilience.”

Read the full article here.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: words from RAJATHI SALMA, the celebrated author, human rights activist, and speaker

Friday, March 16th, 2018

“I want my work to register the extent to which the human condition as a whole has been debased”: the poetics of Rajathi Salma, celebrated author, human rights activist, and speaker

Acknowledging Women’s History throughout March and in every month: stories like Salma’s demonstrate the power of reading and writing to empower and uplift entire communities.

portrait of salma

Salma on the roof of her house in the village.


In this book, documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto and poet Rajathi Salma collaborate to tell the story of Salma’s life as well as the challenges of creating a documentary film. Salma’s poems, one of which is published below, deal with a uniquely female experience of seclusion and privation.


The language I acquired through voracious and eclectic reading helped me express what had happened to me. I do not believe in imposing any restrictions on my work. When a poem is born a mysterious knot within me gets untangled and frees itself. Through my writings I want to invite the reader into my world and into a profound experience of sharing. Once she has entered my writing, I aim to keep her in an endlessly engaged condition. I want the sound of the voice rising from my text to reverberate at all levels of her mind.

Besides trying to present the situation of women in society, and the problems and hardships they face, in an honest and original manner, I want my work to register the extent to which the human condition as a whole has been debased. I hope to convey what I see as the persistent absurdity of human life that flows from the sense of isolation that surrounds me and which persists today. Writing finds its proper direction in the quest for self and the pressure of suppressed emotions.

I try to understand the reason for my existence and establish my identity through my writing. In most of my work I have focused on the isolated condition of women, the lack of confidence this produces in them, and the unbridgeable but entirely fabricated gap in the relationships between men and women. The physical restrictions and denial of education faced by the women of my community have found their due place in my texts. Life has taught me a feminist way of thinking.

salma and longinotto with documentary crew

The film crew in Salma’s flat in Chennai. From left to right: Kim; Samyuktha PC; Salma; Sara Lima.



Entirely bereft now
of its identity,
my ancestral house,
where I used to live,
has crumbled to ruin.

Although I do not
live there anymore,
it stays with me still,
along with my childhood.

I used to fly
over the jungle made up
of its mezzanine lofts.

Its pillars hid me
on moonlit nights
and on those
darkened by moonless skies.

Even the wall of the latrine,
witness to the terror
of my first bleeding,
has collapsed to the ground, along
with all its other secrets.

Many were the times
we had sought shelter there:
I, on one side of the wall,
and this neem tree on the other.

With its walls lost to ruin,
the house stands alone,
staring at the ground where it had
once cast its shadow.

Traces of my play hours
still remain, perhaps,
on the wall of an upstairs room.

salma and family - four generations of tamil women

In the village. From left to right: Amina, Salma’s grandmother; Fatima, Salma’s niece; Salma; Salma’s mother, Sharbunnisha.


Kim Longinotto, Grierson Trustee Award winner and SALMA co-author, speaks with the Guardian about her life and career

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

“There should be a fully-funded documentary strand on television,” she says. “I said fund Storyville properly. They get bloody good films, but they should be able to originate them. Have a budget. And the BBC should not be warring with ITV. They should be more public service. Strictly should not be against X Factor.”

However, she isn’t snooty about popular TV. “A lot of documentary makers tell me they don’t even have a TV, they look down on TV, only watch cinema films. Telly is my pleasure in life. I am addicted. I can’t imagine not living in England because of the telly. It is that bad.

“There are things that are wonderful, The Naked Choir, Gogglebox, The X Factor, these programmes really enrich our lives, the good ones feed into our culture and make our society more adventurous.” She credits Graham Norton, Grayson Perry and Eddie Izzard for making Britain “a more fun place to live”.

To read the rest of the interview, visit The Guardian.

KIM LONGINOTTO, author of SALMA, to receive BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Kim Longinotto has been named the 2015 recipient of the BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award.

The documentary filmmaker is known for titles including Sisters In Law, which won the CICEA award at Cannes in 2005, Pink Saris and latest release Dreamcatcher, which won the Directing Award at Sundance in January.

Announcing the award, a statement from The Grierson Trust described Longinotto as: “the creator of numerous groundbreaking films which focus on and explore the lives of women across the globe,. Throughout her career she has consistently given voice to those who have no voice living in some of the world’s most repressive and hostile societies.

To read the rest of the news, visit Screen Daily.

Commonwealth Poets United announces poet exchange with RAJATHI SALMA

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

The Indian poet participating in the Commonwealth poet exchange is Salma.

Salma is a writer of Tamil poetry and fiction. Based in the small town of Thuvarankurichi, she is recognised as a writer of growing importance in Tamil literature. Her work combines a rare outspokenness about taboo areas of the traditional Tamil women’s experience with a language of compressed intensity and startling metaphoric resonance.

Read the full announcement at Commonwealth Poets United.

SALMA is interviewed about her life and poetry at

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Bangalore: When Rajathi Samsudeen, was 13 years old, her family forced her to discontinue her studies and shut her away in the four corners of the house for nine years, later tricking her into marriage, against her wishes.

In those nine years of solitude, shunned from the outside world, words and words alone became her sole companion. After marriage, her husband insisted she stay indoors, forbidding her from writing, which by now had become her only mode of expression. Finally when her poems reached the hands of a publisher and were published, Rajathi, who by then had taken the pen name Salma, to conceal her identification, had become a sensation among Tamil readers. Today she is one of the most renowned Tamil poets and her journey so far has only been a beginning.

Read the full article at

Development in Action interviews RAJATHI SALMA about her life and work

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Like every other woman in her village in Tamil Nadu, at the first sign of puberty Rajathi Salma was confined within the four walls of her family home. Deprived of any further education or social contacts, she began to write. After 25 years of isolation, a twist of political fate saw her elected to lead her local panchayat (village council). This was followed by four years as the head of the state’s Social Welfare Board. Today she is considered one of the most outspoken women poets in India.

Read the full interview at Development in Action

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