Nissim Ezekiel and A.K. Ramanujan

Topics: India, Poetry, Mumbai Pages: 6 (2134 words) Published: April 6, 2005
Nissim Ezekiel (December 24 1924 - January 9, 2004 )
was a poet, playwright and art critic. He was considered the foremost Indian writer in English English-language> of his time. Contents 1 Early life > 2 Career > 3 Books by Nissim Ezekiel > 4 Some of his well-known poems > Early life

Ezekiel was born in Bombay (now Mumbai Mumbai). Ezekiel's father was a botany professor and his mother, principal of her own school. He belonged to Mumbai's small 'Bene Israel' Jewish community. In 1947, Ezekiel did his Masters in literature from Wilson College, University of Mumbai. In 1947-48, he taught English literature at Khalsa College, Mumbai and published literary articles. After dabbling in radical politics for a while, he sailed to London in November 1948. He studied philosophy at Birkbeck College. After a three and half years stay, Ezekiel worked his way home as a deck-scrubber aboard a cargo ship carrying arms to Indochina. He married Daisy Jacob in 1952. In the same year, Fortune press (London) published his first collection of poetry, A Time to Change. He joined The Illustrated Weekly of India as an assistant editor in 1953 and stayed there for two years. Soon after his return from London, he published his second book of verse Sixty Poems. For the next 10 years, he also worked as a broadcaster on arts and literature for All India Radio. Career He published his book The Unfinished Man in 1960. After working as an advertising copywriter and general manager of a picture frame company (1954-59), he co-founded the literary monthly Imprint, in 1961. He became art critic of The Times of India The-Times-of-India> (1964-66) and edited Poetry India (1966-67). From 1961 to 1972, he headed the English department of Mithibai College, Mumbai. The Exact Name, his fifth book of poetry was puublished in 1965. During this period he had short tenures as visiting professor at University of Leeds (1964) and University of Chicago (1967). In 1967 while in America, he experimented with hallucenogenic drugs, probably as a means to expand his writing skills. He finally stopped using them in 1972. In 1969, Writers Workshop, Calcutta published his The Three Plays. A year later, he presented an art series of ten programs for Mumbai television. On the invitation of the US government, he went on a month long tour to the US in November, 1974. In 1976, he translated poetry from Marathi, and co-edited a fiction and poetry anthology. His poems The Night Of The Scorpion, and The Patriot, are used as study material in Indian and British schools. Ezekiel received the Sahitya Akademi cultural award in 1983 and the Padma Shri in 1988. He was professor of English and reader in American literature at University of Mumbai during the 1990s, and secretary of the Indian branch of the international writers' organization PEN. After a prolonged battle with Alzheimer's disease, Nissim Ezekiel died in Mumbai, January 9 2004 at age 79. When he began his writing career in the late 1940s, his use of formal and correct English was criticized, given its association with colonialism. After 1965, he began experimenting with exaggerated 'Indian English'. Ezekiel, being a member of the Jewish community, approached poetry as an outsider and was different from the nationalistic Indian literature of that time. Most of his poetry was that of the urban India, issues of alienation, love, marriage and sexuality. He acted as a mentor to younger poets, such as Dom Moraes, Adil Jussawalla and Gieve Patel. In the last few years of his life, he was deeply involved in helping Mumbai poets, his advice being forthright, but seldom blunt. Books by Nissim Ezekiel

· Time To Change - 1952 · Sixty Poems - 1953 · The Third - 1959 · The Unfinished Man - 1960 · The Exact Name - 1965 · The Three Plays - 1969 Some of his well-known poems · The Patriot · Night of the Scorpion · The Professor · Case Study · Enterprise · Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher · Background, Casually · Poster...
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