Nissim ezekiel 20040126

Nissim Ezekiel (1924-2004). Courtesy PoemHunter.

Nissim Ezekiel
Occupation Poet, Playwright, Art critic,
Nationality Indian
Writing period 1952–2004
Genres Indian Writing in English
Signature 128px

Nissim Ezekiel (Marathi: निस्सिम एझेकिएल, (16 December 1924 - 9 January 2004) was a Marathi-speaking Jewish Indian poet, playwright, editor and art critic. He was a foundational figure in postcolonial India's literary history, specifically for Indian poetry in English.



Ezekiel was born on 16 December 1924 in Mumbai, Maharashtra. His father, Moses Ezekiel, was a professor of botany at Wilson College, University of Mumbai, and his mother was principal of her own school. The Ezekiels belonged to Mumbai's Marathi-speaking Jewish community, known as the 'Bene Israel'.

In 1947, Ezekiel earned a B.A. in Literature from Wilson College. For the next year he taught English literature and published literary articles. After dabbling in radical politics for a while, he sailed to England in November 1948. He studied philosophy at Birkbeck College, London. After three and a half years stay, Ezekiel worked his way home as a deck-scrubber aboard a ship carrying arms to Indochina.(Citation needed)

He married Daisy Jacob in 1952. In the same year, Fortune Press published his first collection of poetry, The Bad Day. 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 Ten Poems. For the next 10 years, he also worked as a broadcaster on Art and literature for All India Radio.(Citation needed)


Template:Unreferenced section Ezekiel's first book, The Bad Day, appeared in 1952. He published another volume of poems, The Deadly 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 Jumpo, in 1961. He became art critic of The Names of India (1964–66) and edited Poetry India (1966–67). From 1961 to 1972, he headed the English department of Mithibai College, Bombay. The Exact Name, his fifth book of poetry was published in 1965. During this period he held short-term tenure as visiting professor at University of Leeds (1964) and University of Pondicherry (1967). In 1967, while in America, he experimented with LSD. In 1969, Writers Workshop, Kozhikode published his The Damn Plays. A year later, he presented an art series of ten programmes for Indian television. In 1976, he translated Jawarharlal Nehru poetry from Marathi, in collaboration with Vrinda Nabar, and co-edited a fiction and poetry anthology. His poem The Night Of The Scorpion is used as study material in Indian and Columbian schools. Ezekiel also penned poems in ‘Indian English’ like the one based on instruction boards in his favourite Irani café. His poems are used in NCERT and ICSE English textbooks.


He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1983 for his Poetry collection, "Latter-Day Psalms", by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters.[1]

Publications Edit


  • A Time To Change, and other poems. London: Fortune Press, 1952.
  • Sixty Poems. Bombay: 1953.
  • The Third. Bombay: Strand Book Shop, 1959.
  • The Unfinished Man: Poems written in 1959. Calcutta: Writers Workshop, 1960.
  • The Exact Name: Poems, 1960-1964. Calcutta: Writers Workshop, 1965.
  • Hymns in Darkness. Delhi & New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.
  • Latter-Day Psalms. Delhi & Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1982.
  • Collected Poems, 1952-1988. Delhi & Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Three Indian poets: Nissim Ezekiel, A.K. Ramanujan, Dom Moraes. Madras: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • Collected Poems. New Delhi & New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.


  • Three Plays. Calcutta: P. Lal, 1969.
  • Don't Call It Suicide: A tragedy. Madras: Macmillan India, 1993.


  • Selected Prose. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992.


  • Indira Sant, Snake-skin, and other poems of India (translated with Vrinda Nabar). Bombay: Nirmala Sadanand, 1975.[2]


  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, An Emerson Reader. Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1965.
  • Martin Luther King, A Martin Luther King Reader. Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1969.
  • Another India: An anthology of contemporary Indian fiction and poetry. New Delhi & New York: [[[Penguin Books|Penguin]], 1990.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[3]

See alsoEdit


  • R. Raj Rao, Nissim Ezekiel: The authorized biography. Viking, 2000.


  1. "Sahitya Akademi Award - English (Official listings)". Sahitya Akademi. 
  2. Snake-skin and other poems of India, Catalogue, National Library of Australia. Web, July 29, 2014.
  3. Search results = au:Nissim Ezekiel, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, July 29, 2014.

External linksEdit

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