Gagan Gill
(India, 1959)   
Gagan Gill

Gagan Gill is a critically acclaimed poet with four collections of poetry and a book of  essays to her credit. She is a full-time writer and lives in New Delhi. A prolific translator, she has also published ten volumes of translations of the work of various writers like Zbiegnew Herbert, Harbhajan Singh, Sitakant Mahapatra and Shrikant Verma.

Gill holds a Masters degree in English literature from Delhi University. She worked as a literary editor for eleven years with The Times of India group and Sunday Observer. She has been a visiting writer from India at the International Writing Program in Iowa (1990) and a Nieman Fellow for journalism at Harvard University in 1992-93. However, she gave up a career in journalism in order to devote herself to poetry and its demands: “the long periods of silence in her everyday life” that she considers vital to remain “truly connected to words”.

Her poetry is taught in several American, English and German universities and is widely anthologised in English. In October 2006, a book of German translations of her work was launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair. In July 2002, she conducted a series of creative writing workshops for Commonwealth writers at the Manchester Library, UK, and in November 2004, University of Pennsylvania and Berkeley jointly held workshops focused on her writing. In 2005, the Poetry Translation Centre, SOAS, London University translated her work as part of a project translating six international poets

The five poems in this edition are intense lyric experiences. Quiet and hauntingly incantatory, perforated with silences, they distil mood states of urgent desire and loneliness. They work in a raga-like fashion, spiralling in and around a basic set of emotional notes. The result is a carefully crafted archive of evanescent moments: insistent, desperate, bittersweet, often so sharp that desire here is a kind of pain, and emptiness a strange kind of fullness.

And, true to the heritage of love poetry, the smell of death is never far away:

In her longing, in her selfishness
She doesn’t remember that
The one she desires
Is just one fistful of bones.
Bones that come out of the crematorium
In just five minutes

© Arundhathi Subramaniam

Selected Bibliography


Thapak Thapak Dil Thapak Thapa, Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi, 2003, Bharatiya Jnanpith, New Delhi
Yah Akanksha Samay Nahin
, Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi, 1998, Bharatiya Jnanpith, New Delhi
Andhere men Buddha, Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi, 1996, Bharatiya Jnanpith, New Delhi
Ek Din Lautegi Laraki, Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi, 1989, Bharatiya Jnanpith, New Delhi

Awaak ( a travelogue), Vani Prakashan, New Delhi, 2008
Dilli men Uninde (essays), Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi, 1999, Bharatiya Jnanpith, New Delhi
Ram Kumar - A Journey Within, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 1996

Devadoot Ki Bajay Kuchh Bhi
(edited and translated Polish poet Zbiegnew Herbert) Remadhav Publications, New Delhi, 2007
Lal Teen Ki Chhat
, ( in Punjabi), translation of Nirmal Verma’s Hindi novel, for Modern Classics Series of National Book Trust, India, 1996-97

Poetry Translation Centre: Profile of Gagan Gill with some of her poems translated
Blogspot – Indian Poetry Translations: Translations of a few poems by Gagan Gill
Kavitayan : Translations of a few poems by Gagan Gill
The Little Magazine : For Nancy, translation of a poem by Gagan Gill


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