Poppy Charnalia: Art, Poetry and Supporting Research on Autism


Poppy Charnalia’s formative years were spent delving deeply into poetry, art and Hindustani Classical music with her family in Lucknow. Her name Poppy is inspired by her mother’s series of poppy paintings.

She now lives in Lexington, MA with her husband Samir and 7 year old twins Sohum and Preanshi ; ardently pursuing vsual art, poetry in Hindi, Urdu and English and Indian classical music. The issue of autism touches her family deeply and painfully as her son suffers from this. She supports autism related programs and funding for Stem Cell Treatment Research for autism in the United States currently underway at Duke University.

With her ballad thinking, she believes everything dark or light leads to poetry. All three of her artistic expressions fuse together from inspiration to fruition.

Her art has sculpture, it has the metallic sheen of jewelry, multi-dimensional patterns and waves of clothing, linearity of architecture and it mimics layers of rocks. It amplifies the beauty of a home and yet stands pivotal.

She crafts multiple layers on canvas with hyper awareness that each one, even when obliquely visible contextually changes the ‘whole’.  A principle she adheres to in life as well.

INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it

Poppy Charnalia: I believe life is lived in moments, not in an expansive continuum of time. Beyond being with my beautiful family, each precious moment is filled with the creation of art, poetry and indulgence in music.

All joy and pain I experience is translated into a painting, poetry in Urdu, English or Shuddha Hindi and practice of Hindustani classical music with my daughter and children in our community.

I participate in Kavi Sammelans and recitals both on stage and poetry meets organized at more informal locations. I have also organized meets at my home encouraging other poets to express their artistic tapestry of words.

I recite Urdu and Hindi poetry at Harvard University, an initiative by the South Asia Institute & Department of South Asian Studies. I have also recited at Hindi Manch events lead by Preetesh Shrivastava, Lokvani annual gala and will be reciting at Dil Se gala organized by We Care Charity (providing food shelter and clothing to the underprivileged, specially children in the US).

I have written a Baal Kavita or Children’s poetry which was recited by a group of very talented children at the Hindi Manch Baal Yuva Vibhag program in 2017. Our goal was to ignite and nurture love for the Hindi language amongst these kids. It was a very proud and emotional moment for me as the beautiful children recited the Hindi words I wrote with so much love.

I work with clients across New England, West Coast and New York creating commissioned sculpture art.  My 7-year old son, Sohum is on the autism spectrum and he indulges in textures which inspired the multi-dimensional relief or textured work I create on canvas.

I love that all that is ‘dark’ and ‘light’ in my life has morphed into music, poetry or art and is the source of joy for someone else.

INE: To which charitable, community and professional groups do you belong and why?

PC: I create art for donation to organizations like Pratham USA (organizing education programs for underprivileged children in India) and Lazarus Living (solving for issues of homelessness). I will be reciting poetry for We Care Charity Gala in October 2018.

The issue of Autism touches my family deeply and painfully. I will be participating in the Best Buddies Challenge on June 2nd under ‘Team Sohum’ to raise funds to aid programs for children with developmental challenges.

I am also launching my first Urdu/Hindi poetry book ये सच, अनवरत (This Relentless  Truth) on September 8th this year. The proceeds from the book sale at the event will fund autism related programs and funding for Stem Cell Treatment Research for autism in the United States currently underway at Duke University.

INE: What are your hobbies and interests?

PC: Art, music and poetry are my passion. Beyond that I read and run outside. I run on the minuteman trail in Lexington without music so I can absorb all natural sounds and stimuli to the hilt.

I observe the world around me; tree barks, flowers both blossomed and those withered on the ground, pot holes, texture of the paved or unpaved road, conversational buzz at a cafe , music, sounds of lights and fans. My poetry and art is ignited from listening and keen observation. I am teaching g my children this open eyed mediation and how it’s a source of true happiness and creativity.

I discuss various topics like music, science and art with my children and in answering their penetrative fundamental questions, my learning is amplified.

 INE: In what way do you feel you have positively influenced or served the local community, your company/organization or professional field?

PC: I have organized and participated in poetry meets. This poetry expresses human values and experiences, socioeconomic issues, the political landscape, pain and love with magnified intensity. Poetry also enhances our language and culture in a rhythmic musical way.

My art has and will continually  generate monetary aid for education programs for children like Pratham USA and Lazarus Living (tackling the issue of homelessness).

My poetry book will generate funding for Autism related causes primarily Stem Cell Research for Autism in the US. I will continue to write and recite poetry for organizations like We Care Charity.

I will continue to work tirelessly to nourish our native languages of Urdu and Hindi in the forms of poetry and music in our community.

My daughter and I are participating in music programs and donating to Ekal Vidyalaya (organization working for educational needs of underprivileged children in India). We are also participating in the Best Buddies Challenge on June 2nd 2018 to aid funding for programs benefiting those with developmental challenges.

INE: What are your favorite books

PC: Poetry – ‘Saaye Mein Dhoop’  by  Dushyant Kumar

The Solitary Reaper- Poem by William Wordsworth.

Biography – ‘Lust for Life’ by Irving Stone  (about Vincent Van Gogh)

Autobiography- ‘Satya Ke Prayog’ (My Experiments with Truth) by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Fiction – ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte

INE:  What are your Favorite Quotes?

PC:“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” Oscar Wilde

“If you want to change the world, be that change.” Mahatma Gandhi

“हम उम्मीद के बड़े दीवाने हैं यारों,

अंधेरे में चिराग न सही, चिराग की बात ही काफी” – Poppy Charnalia

(Translation –  I am such a passionate believer of ‘hope’. If there is no lamp in the darkness, just a few words about ‘light’ are enough to move me forward)

INE:  Who inspires you the most?

PC: I am inspired by someone who can rise above and counter their challenges and  limitations while aspiring to thrive at par with the world.

I am inspired by my 7 year old son Sohum. He works twice as hard to learn things other kids achieve with ease. He forgives someone who has hurt him in a few seconds. He loves for the sake of love, without motive. He expresses, laughs and cries to the fullest and lives completely. He enjoys the first warm breeze of the summer with every pore in his skin bathing completely in the experience.

Being Sohum’s mother I learnt to be grateful. Gratitude is the source of real happiness. I am grateful that I have a beautiful family, sincere friends and my senses fuel all the art and poetry I create. I am a fortunate woman.

INE: What core values do you try to live by?

PC: Sohum and I have reciprocal symbiosis, I learn from him as I teach.

I learnt about keeping an even keel through pain and pleasure, I learnt that the resolution to a problem should aim at peace, that is victory in its true sense. Individuals cannot win, the immortal fabric of morality, values and peace has to win.

जां ज़ाया करें तो सिर्फ उस जंग पे,

जिसका अंजाम मुहब्बत हो….

–              by Poppy Charnalia

(Translation –Let us ONLY spend our precious spirits on a battle where the objective is love

and peace.)

To resolve anything in the external world, one has to first find peace within themselves. A restless spirit cannot serve others.

अपने ही अंधेरों के लश्कर से हो,

इस बार जो बग़ावत हो….

–              by Poppy Charnalia

(Translation – If one has to revolt, let the mutiny be against the darkness in

our own hearts.)

One has to keenly observe one’s life like a ticker tape running by, in order to have the RIGHT Thought resulting in the Right Action. I call it open eyed meditation.

सुना है यहां तरह तरह के ख़यालों का हैआना जाना,

शुक्र कि ज़हन के इस इलाक़े में है रूह का पहरा….

–              by Poppy Charnalia

(Translation- All kinds of thoughts wander in this area, I am grateful that the

Soul is in charge of security here )


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