Sudeep Sen by Sara Bowman

SUDEEP SEN [] is widely recognised as a major new generation voice in world literature and ‘one of the finest younger English-language poets in the international literary scene’ (BBC Radio). Sen’s prize-winning books include: Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems (HarperCollins), Distracted Geographies, Rain, Aria (A K Ramanujan Translation Award), Ladakh, and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (editor). Blue Nude: New & Selected Poems | Translations 1979-2014 (Jorge Zalamea International Poetry Prize) is forthcoming from Partridge | Penguin Random House. His poems, translated into twenty-five languages, have featured in major international anthologies. His words have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Newsweek, Guardian, Observer, Independent, Telegraph, Herald, Harvard Review, Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, Outlook, India Today, and broadcast on BBC, PBS, CNN IBN, NDTV, AIR & Doordarshan. Sen’s newer work appears in New Writing 15 (Granta), Language for a New Century (Norton), Leela (Collins), Indian Love Poems (Knopf/Random House/Everyman), Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe), and Initiate: Oxford New Writing (Blackwell). He is the editorial director of AARK ARTS and the editor of Atlas.

As a photographer and graphic artist, his work is part of art fairs, exhibitions, professional print portfolios, magazine and newspaper pieces, book jacket covers, record labels, and private collections. His publications credits include: National, Hindu, Deccan Chronicle, New Indian Express, Swagat, Gallerie, Biblio, Prairie Schooner, Molossus, World Literature Today, Indian Design & Interiors, and others; plus books covers for publishers such as HarperCollins, Peepal Tree, Mulfran, Wings Press, Women Unlimited, Gallerie, Aark Arts, UPL, Bengal Gallery, and many others. He has also published two books of photography, Prayer Flag and Postcards from Bangladesh. Sen lives and works in New Delhi.

Sen is the first Asian to be honoured with an invitation to participate at the 2013 Nobel Laureate Week in St Lucia, where he delivered the Derek Walcott Lecture and read his own poetry. A special commemorative edition of his work, Fractals: New & Selected Poems|Translations 1978-2013, was released by the Nobel laureate Derek Walcott himself in the presence of H.E. Dame Pearlette Louisy, Governor General (President) of St Lucia. That year, the Government of India’s Ministry of Culture awarded him the senior fellowship for “outstanding persons in the field of culture”.



A bright red boat
Yellow capsicums

Blue fishing nets
Ochre fort walls


Sahar’s silk blouse
gold and sheer

Her dark black
kohl-lined lashes


A street child’s
brown fists

holding the rainbow
in his small grasp


My lost memory
white and frozen

now melts colour
ready to refract




  • ‘The breadth of The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry by Sudeep Sen [is] seriously impressive. [A] major book that could constitute a poetry masterclass’.
    — SUPRIYA NAIR in Mint Lounge | The Wall Street Journal ‘Best Books of the Year’
  • ‘I read Rain with considerable admiration and pleasure. It is a word-perfect collection and its subject matter is both the measure of the rain and the spoken line’.
    —AMIT CHAUDHURI in The Statesman ‘Best Book of the Year’
  • ‘Sudeep Sen’s poems are a present which bring — like all true poetry — so much companionship’.
    —JOHN BERGER, Booker Prize Winner and author of The Ways of Seeing (Penguin/BBC)
  • ‘A wonderful poet’. — YEHUDA AMICHAI, Selected Poems (Faber & Faber)
  • ‘A highly sophisticated poet’. — KAIFI AZMI, author of Selected Poems (Viking Penguin)
  • ‘A gifted poet …. I think everyone who works in Indian literature in English should thank him for all he has done’. — DOM MORAES in Sunday Midday
  • Prayer Flag is an unique object of art that reveals two intrinsically linked artistic sides of Sen’s work and talent: words and images. Perfection of musicality, tone and cadence is tuned to produce the finest resonance… a gift to treasure from a master artist. — TOM ALTER in Biblio
  • ‘A rich, fluent, cosmopolitan voice’. — PETER BRADSHAW in London Evening Standard
  • ‘Sen has emerged as a leading poet of the English language — has a painter’s eye when depicting a scene [commands] superb skill’. — KHUSHWANT SINGH in Sunday Observer
  • ‘A poet of technical facility … has produced a large body of work’.
    — BRUCE KING in The Oxford English Literary History (OUP)
  • ‘Sen [has] extended the range of Indian verse in English to encompass a variety of alternative views of language, history and culture’. — CHRIS COOK ed., Pears Cyclopaedia (Penguin)
  • ‘Sen is an eclectic poet whose understated work eschews fashionable trends, while exhibiting considerable technical virtuosity and versatility’.
    — JOHN THIEME in Cambridge Guide to Literature in English (Cambridge University Press)
  • ‘Sen is amongst the finest younger English-language poets in the international literary scene. A distinct voice: carefully modulated and skilled, well measured and crafted’.
  • ‘I’ve enjoyed reading Distracted Geographies — the spare language gives importance and adds significance to each word. In fact, the words ripple in the surrounding silence, like stones dropped into a still pond. The poem moves forward in a restrained, contemplative manner (a relief from much contemporary histrionics), and draws the reader into its emotional landscape. I especially enjoyed the images and references drawn from the world of science — as Calvino said: the literature of the third millennium must engage with science if it is to remain relevant and vital’. — TOM PETSINIS, author of The French Mathematician (Penguin)
  • ‘From a wet Scottish morning to the lonely moment of self-discovery in a Gothic atmosphere symbolizing stillness, Distracted Geographies: An Archipelago of Intent captures all with the piercing precision of language, tonal lyricism, and unique scientific patterning of the book’s architecture. Visionary, sensual and transcendental — we have to thank Sudeep Sen for a truly remarkable book — a tour de force’. — The Independent


  • ‘In this artfully put together anthology, Sen translates from many languages. Sen’s own translation of Jibanananda Das’s Banalata Sen is luminous enough to carry the entire book.’
    — ARSHIA SATTAR in Outlook ‘The Best Books of the Year 2009’
  • ‘Sudeep Sen’s marvellous poetic career makes him the outstanding literary representative of his generation. The rich range and resonance of his work covers his poems, translations, editing, anthologizing, and discursive prose. An unerring poetic intelligence works here.’
    — DILIP CHITRE, Tukaram: Says Tuka (Penguin)
  • ‘These elegant and precise translations from various languages are like tying up a bunch of subtle fragrances. Common concerns of humanity are expressed differently by each poet so one doesn’t feel a stranger among strangers.’ — GULZAR, Selected Poems (Viking Penguin)
  • ‘Translation is a supremely hard task and often a thankless one. Sudeep Sen, a distinguished poet in his own right, accomplishes this task magnificently, translating as only a poet can, for to translate poetry, it should go without saying, one must be a poet of distinction.’
    — DANIEL WEISSBORT, founder-editor with TED HUGHES, Modern Poetry in Translation
  • ‘For Bengali poetry to take its rightful place in the international world of letters, it needs an international translator. Who better than Sudeep Sen? Add to the Bengali the translations from Hindi, Urdu and many other languages from all four corners of the world, and you have a wondrous, intricate embroidery — threads of many colours twisting and interweaving: a cloth that all nations can wear. Most impressive.’
    — WILLIAM RADICE, Rabindranath Tagore: Selected Poems (Penguin Modern Classics)
  • ‘The work of translation is the work of comprehension, or rather the building up of a network of comprehensions. It enables people of different languages to share something that lies at the heart of human experience, which is the transformation of experience into language. Sudeep Sen has constructed a community of voices, a properly wide-ranging community, where true poems find proper echoes in the common cave of a new language — a mammoth work and a real achievement.’
    — GEORGE SZIRTES, New & Collected Poems (Bloodaxe)
  • ‘Prolific as a poet, … and a dynamic presence on the literary scene … [Sen has also done] vigourous work as translator.’ — ARUNDHATI SUBRAMANIAM on Poetry International Web
  • ‘In this superlative book of translations, Sen uses his gifts as a poet, linguist, cosmopolitan traveller and observer to conjure, in Coleridge’s phrase, the ‘best words in their best order’ …. A fine collection of poetry which takes the best from classical and modern traditions and integrates them into a stunning whole.’ — JENNY LEWIS on Molossus

Poetry in this post: © SUDEEP SEN
Published with the permission of SUDEEP SEN