Lasting Impressions of Nissim Ezekiel

…when he (Ezekiel) sits in his dusty office at the Indian P.E.N. as its most active office bearer reading quantities of other people’s poems and giving his comments on them – thereby earning friends and enemies – he is teaching, again…
Gieve Patel, Introduction to Collected Poems of Nissim Ezekiel.


In this context – as my mentor, Nissim Ezekiel opened newer doors for my passion for poetry-writing.  He was keenly attentive to see my strengths, and point out ways for improvement.  Behind all his guidance, I found him subtle and kind.  He taught me how to look at the general picture-frame of verse.  I found his frankness giving me an immense sense of direction.


Once I asked Nissim Ezekiel an explanation on my work, as I was understandably requiring confidence, and was speculative what the grand old Professor really thought of my poems.  With a reasonable pause, he gave me his answer: ‘What’s worth seeking, if you find it – go for it, express it, compose it.  Fortunately, I find in many of your poems this element existing’.


What followed the sequence of things was a result of continuity.  Subsequently, I spent hours in the two coming years at P.E.N. – Mumbai, going almost daily to Nissim Ezekiel.  Later, he was struck down by Alzheimer – I was sad and mad.

Geeta Chhabra


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