Ankita Saxena

poet, performer, workshop facilitator

Besharam, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti (2001)

SATI: You’re my sister.


SATI: We’re the same. Same blood. Same badness. As bad as each other.

(Scene 12)

I discovered this play while browsing the basement of Housmans: a radical bookshop in Kings Cross. Set in Birmingham in the 1980s – 90s the play is a strikingly visceral depiction of a working-class family of Asian descent. Bhatti, whose background is in film and TV writing, fills each scene with specific, cultural references, dramatic dialogues and obscure props. Central to the play are two sisters: one, a young girl infatuated with a life-size cardboard cut-out of the footballer Ian Wright; the other, a tribute singer, weed addict and ex-prostitute. The play explores discrimination, traditionalism and sexuality in shocking ways, completely redefining drama for me.

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About Ankita

Ankita Saxena is the author of Mother | Line, which released in April 2023, with Verve Poetry Press. She read English Literature at Jesus College, Oxford (2014-2017), where she was Head of Events at Oxford University Poetry Society, and President of the Turl Street Arts Festival. She has been commended in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award three times. She is a Barbican Young Poet alumnus, part of the Octavia Poetry Collective, and one half of the ORIGINS Poetry Duo. Her poetry is published in Wasafiri, Modern Poetry in Translation and Bath Magg. She has performed widely across the UK, including live at Hammersmith Appollo, with The Guilty Feminist.

By day, she works at Social Finance, a not-for-profit social enterprise, helping to tackle complex and enduring issues in society and create lasting and widespread change.

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