Writer of poetry, literary nonfiction, and articles

Coach for writers and their untold stories

Consultant on diversity, media, social media, and corporate communications

Short Bios

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Minal Hajratwala‘s books include Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents (winner of four nonfiction awards), Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment (poetry), and Out! Stories from the New Queer India (anthology). She co-founded The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective and created Write Like a Unicorn to help writers tap their magic.

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Minal Hajratwala ( is author of the award-winning epic Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents (2009), which was called “incomparable” by Alice Walker and “searingly honest” by the Washington Post, and editor of Out! Stories from the New Queer India (2013). Her latest book is Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment, published by The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, a collective of which she is a co-founder. She graduated from Stanford University, was a fellow at Columbia University, and was a 2011 Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar. As a writing coach, she loves helping people give voice to untold stories through the  Write Like a Unicorn portal. Her Granta essay “A Brief Guide to Gender in India” was named one of the 10 best pieces of writing on the web for 2015 by the Golden Giraffes.

And more

For a biography focused on my consulting experience, please see the Consultant page.

Extended dance mix

Want to know all about me? OK, here goes!

Minal Hajratwala is…

a unicorn of many colors, and a poet at heart. Her latest book, Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment, includes poems and the script for her theatrical poetry extravaganza, “Avatars: Gods for a New Millennium,” which was commissioned by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco for World AIDS Day. It is published by The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, which publishes contemporary poetry books from India under a collective mentorship model.

In 2009, her nonfiction epic Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents came out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It was called “incomparable” by Alice Walker and “searingly honest” by the Washington Post. The book won a Pen USA Award, an Asian American Writers Workshop Award, a Lambda Literary Award, a California Book Award (Silver, Nonfiction), and was shortlisted for the Saroyan International Writing Prize. Minal spent seven years researching and writing the book, traveling the world to interview more than seventy-five members of her extended family.

Minal spent 2010-11 as a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar in India researching her next book, a novel. During that time she also connected with the LGBTQ movement in India and edited a groundbreaking anthology, Out! Stories From the New Queer India, which was published by a Mumbai independent press, Queer Ink, in 2013.

Her creative work has received recognition and support from the Sundance Institute, the Jon Sims Center for the Arts, the SerpentSource Foundation, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and the Hedgebrook writing retreat for women, where she has served on the Alumnae Leadership Council.

As a writing coach, Minal believes language is magical, and she loves helping individuals and organizations access the power to express themselves in words. She is the creatrix of Blueprint Your Book, an intensive and inspiring six-lesson program for manuscript development; Writing from the Chakras, a body-based system that leads to fast, energized, powerful breakthroughs by tapping the seven levels of human experience that make up rich, versatile writing; The Creative Art of Proposals: How to Write Kick-Ass Language to Get Your Work Funded, Published, and All Loved Up; and Write Like a Unicorn. She has taught writing workshops nationally and internationally at universities, community organizations, and online, including as a guest faculty member at the Voices of Our Nations Arts summer program for writers of color.

As a journalist, she worked at the San Jose Mercury News from 1992 to 2000 as an editor, reporter, and the newspaper’s first reader representative (ombudsperson). She is a graduate of Stanford University and held a National Arts Journalism Program fellowship in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in 2000-01.