Indian American poet Raena Shirali is the author of GILT (YesYes Books, 2017; winner of the 2018 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award), an experimental collection grappling with standards created by an invisible system and enforced by family, relationships, and violations of women’s rights in a reckoning of intersectional identity. Born in Houston, Texas, & raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Raena earned her MFA from The Ohio State University. Her ongoing research and writing engage with witch hunting practices in India, engaging with and questioning the work of persona therein.
She has performed at such venues as: the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center in NYC, Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab, Slam Free or Die, College of Charleston, & many more. As an educator & when she isn't teaching at the college level, Raena gives craft talks on the political weight of poetic endings, highlighting voices of color & immigrant & contemporary voices. From Indiana University's MFA students, to Wright State University's undergraduate creative writers, to College of Charleston's Philosophy Aesthetics Work Group, to Charleston County School of the Arts' high school writers, Raena has adapted her craft talks & essays for a range of students at differing levels in their artistic educations.
Raena currently serves as Director of Pedagogy & Community Relations at Blue Stoop, as Poetry Editor for Muzzle Magazine, and as Poetry Reader for Vinyl. Shirali also recently co-organized We (Too) Are Philly, an all-POC summer poetry festival in Philadelphia. She dapples in photography, has a thing for gold, & lives in Philadelphia, where she teaches English.
Winner, 2019 PEN America Writer’s Emergency Fund Grant
Finalist, 2019 American Literary Review Poetry Prize
Runner-Up, 2018 Tinderbox Brett Elizabeth Jenkins Poetry Prize, selected by Zeina Hashem Beck
Winner, Fall 2018 VIDA Scholarship for Sundress Academy for the Arts' Fall Residency
Winner, Spring 2017 Philip Roth Residency at Bucknell University's Stadler Center
Winner, 2016 Pushcart Prize
Winner, 2016 Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize, selected by Claudia Rankine
Winner, 2014 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, selected by Rachel Zucker
Winner,“Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Prize
Winner, 2012 University Fellowship from The Ohio State University
Finalist, 2015 YesYes Books Pamet River Prize
Finalist, 2016 Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize, selected by Tracy K. Smith
Finalist, 2014 Ruth Lilly Fellowship
Semi-Finalist, 2015 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize