Kalpna Singh Chitnis' Book 'River of Songs' heads to the moon (Image Credit: India Currents)

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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

Indian-American poet, writer, film director, and actor Kalpna Singh-Chitnis’ poetry and film will go in a time capsule on a NASA mission to the moon in 2023.

Singh-Chitnis’ four poems from her poetry collection Bare Soul and her short film River of Songs based on her work of poetry have been included in the Polaris Collection, a Lunar Codex Time Capsule. The poems will head to the Lunar South Pole on a NASA mission with SpaceX, with Astrobotic Technologies’ Griffin Lander / NASA VIPER Rover.

Poet and Filmmaker – Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
Poet and Filmmaker – Kalpna Singh-Chitnis

Singh-Chitnis has been a pioneer in film, literature, and art in the Indian-American diaspora and the Irvine community. She founded the first international film festival in Irvine in 2011 — the Silent River Film Festival — on the 40th anniversary of the city. She is also the founder and director of the nonprofit Silent River Film and Literary Society. 

“I dreamed of going to the Moon, and one day it was possible,” Dr. Samuel Peralta, the Curator and Payload Coordinator of the Lunar Codex said. “I’m sharing that dream with some of the artists, authors, musicians, and filmmakers whose work I love. Together we are the Artists on the Moon, and The Lunar Codex is the collection of works in our lunar time capsules. It speaks to the idea that, despite wars, pandemics, and climate upheaval, humankind found time to dream, and time to create art. Our hope is those future travelers who find these time capsules will discover some of the richness of our world today.”

Singh-Chitnis has taken part in India Currents’ Desi Poetry Readings series over the years, with poem topics ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic, sexual assault survivors, and the South Asian experience.

“The lunar mission is taking expansive and hopeful messages to the moon, worthy of archiving for generations. This gives immense hope. My poetry and film, both going to the Moon, is an affirmation for the poet, artist, and filmmaker in me,” Singh-Chitnis said.

Born and raised in Bihar, India, Singh-Chitnis started writing poetry at the age of fourteen. She earned a master’s degree in political science and taught international relations to postgraduate students at Gaya College, Gaya, affiliated with Magadh University in Bodh Gaya.  In 1994, she moved to the United States and lived in Chicagoland for nine years before coming to Los Angeles to pursue a degree in Film Directing at the New York Film Academy.  Her latest film The Tree, based on her work of poetry, will premiere in 2022.

Isha Trivedi is a journalism student at George Washington University. She enjoys reading and listening to podcasts in her (limited) spare time.