Against the backdrop of iconic, ancient Hindu texts, Burning Like Her Own Planet reimagines the lives of Hindu goddesses through a contemporary, feminist lens. Told in a series of persona poems and dramatic monologues, the book reinvents these myths into essential stories of love, betrayal, and faith. In these poems, the goddesses question their predetermined fates and examine what it means to be human and divine. They speak in the voices of girls, wives, and mothers, all trying to carve a space for themselves in a world ruled by jealous gods and capricious luck. Overcoming a string of challenges, these goddesses discover their own agency, and the power that comes from telling their own stories. At the heart of the book are the goddesses Sita and Parvati--women who are cast in the role of the "perfect" wife, the "perfect" mother. Here, the goddesses describe their own transformations from na ve, untried women into powerful forces claiming their autonomy. Each in her own way challenges the traditional notions of what it means to be a woman, illuminating the connections between the personal and the universal, the devout and the earthly. The poems highlight the tension between obligation and freedom, examining the consequences for those who try and change the narrative. Whether blessed or cursed, these women, these girl-goddesses, forge their own place within the pages of ancient texts, writing the bitter and the sweet of own lives as they undergo the trials of becoming holy.
Born in New Delhi, India, Vandana Khanna is a writer, educator, and editor. Her third collection of poems is forthcoming from Alice James Books and her previous books have won the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize, The Miller Williams Poetry Prize, and the Diode Editions Chapbook Competition. Her work has appeared widely in publications such as the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day, The New Republic, New England Review, Guernica, and The Penguin Book of Indian Poets. She serves as a poetry editor at the Los Angeles Review.