Nissim Ezekiel

(16 December 1924 - 9 January 2004 / Mumbai / India)

Nissim Ezekiel
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Nissim Ezekiel was an Indian Jewish poet, playwright, editor and art-critic. He was a foundational figure in postcolonial India's literary history, specifically for Indian writing in English.

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.

Early Life

Ezekiel was born on 16 December 1924 in Bombay (Maharashtra). His father, Moses Ezekiel, was a professor of botany at Wilson College, and his mother was principal of her own school. The Ezekiels belonged to Mumbai's Jewish community, known as the 'Bene Israel' . In 1947, Ezekiel earned a BA in ... more »

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  • Bijay Kant Dubey (5/9/2014 5:29:00 AM)

    Nissim Ezekiel is the poster boy of modernism in the history of Indian English poetry who together with P.Lal tries to give a dimension to it, but to credit to him merely only will not serve our point and for it, this must go to C.R.Mandy, the then editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India who gave a chance to many a verse-practitioner. At that time Nissim too was a new-comer, unheard of. Nissim had not been so famous as he is today.A Bene-Israeli, I mean a Jew he was outwardly frank, bold and daring, but from his interior within a conservative fellow who stepped not outside, just like a modern hollow man he kept himself to modernity, modernism and hollow urbanity rather than allowing some space to India, Indianism and the theme of Indianness. He had been blind to the treasure trove of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas and other things philosophical and scriptural. A modern man, he thought of modernity and modernism; city life and culture. The tea party, marriage party, exchange of pleasantries, welcome speeches, greetings, birthdays, new year eves; airports, picnic spots, restaurants, travel destinations, theatres, cinema halls, art exhibitions and journalistic tidbits are the things of his discussion. To joke with and to caricature is the chief property of the poet. The wife under the ghumta (veil) taking not the name of the husband at the modern party is the protagonist of his humour. People trying to learn spoken English too comes under the glare of his jokes. A clear-cut poet, he seeks to employ a clear-cut language for his poetry. He can date, but can never turn up for a consummation. to go to the cinema hall with the beloved and to smile with her is acceptable ti him, but never, never the love marriage going outside the gamut; the ghettos binding upon. As a poet he is Indian as for his bare ground realities, wit, fun, pun and humour, India-connections, not for his relationships. He is a poet of the urban space, not the Indian countryside.

  • Sarah Jones (9/24/2013 10:52:00 PM)

    An absolutely brilliant poet. The sarcasm and wit employed in his poem is outstanding. He has mocked the contemporary usage of Indian English in many of his poems, which is not correctly understood by many readers. Nissim will be immortal for his creations Night of the Scorpion and Poet, Lover, Bird Watcher. These two are among the best poems in Indian English writing.

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