My Mentor - Nissim Ezekiel

Considered as the father of post-independence Indian verse in English, Nissim Ezekiel played centre-stage in inaugurating the Modernist revolution in Indian poetry in English.  Born in Mumbai, India, he has had a lasting influence on Indian literature in English – as a poet, critic, editor, teacher, political commentator.  Although topics and question of language invariably interested Nissim Ezekiel, he remained a poet, first and always. During the 1990’s, he was secretary of the Indian branch of the International Writers’ Organization P.E.N. He received the Sahitya Akademi Cultural Award (Indian Academy of Literature) in 1983 and the Padmashree, India’s highest civilian honour in 1988. At the age of 79, Nissim Ezekiel passed away in January 2004.  On his death, London Times paid him an appropriate tribute by calling him: a poet’s poet.


As a mentor, Nissim Ezekiel gifted me a belief-system to write and secure my thoughts in words; my response to this is a big thanks to the late Professor.  His words of sincere advice and guidance will continue to enrich my spirit to write.  The final outcome of the present, only the future, can show.  It is one thing to ‘think’ of somethings and it is another thing to just go and do them! To quote the poet in his exact words at an interview in 1986, Nissim Ezekiel said: to crave for it is self-defeating and I can’t stand self-defeating attitudes, from others or myself.  I feel I must take the responsibility and say that I did my best in my circumstances. 


That’s what I am trying to do, through my site. Thank you, once again, Professor.


Geeta Chhabra


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