Ranjit Hoskote
(India, 1969)   
Ranjit Hoskote

Born in 1969, Ranjit Hoskote is a Mumbai-based poet, art theorist, independent curator and assistant editor with The Hindu. He has published three collections of poetry, co-translated Marathi poet Vasant Dahake’s work into English, and edited an anthology of fourteen contemporary Indian poets. He writes in English.

Hoskote has received the Sanskriti Award for Literature (1996) and the British Council/ Poetry Society of India Annual Competition (1997). In 2004, the national academy of letters honoured him with the Sahitya Akademi Golden Jubilee Award.

His poetry has appeared in journals in India and abroad, including Poetry Review (London), Wasafiri (Canterbury), Rattapallax (New York), Fulcrum (Cambridge, Mass.), The Iowa Review (Iowa City), West Coast Line (Burnaby), Art and Thought (Bonn), The New Straits Times (Kuala Lumpur), Indian Literature (New Delhi), among others. He has been a Visiting Writer and Fellow of the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa (1995) and writer-in-residence at the Villa Waldberta, Munich (2003). His work has been translated into German.

Hoskote writes poetry that is intellectually rigorous, technically vigilant, texturally sophisticated and committed to exploring the image and its many possibilities. His influences have been eclectic, and he acknowledges his debt to writers as diverse as Wallace Stevens, Brodsky, Montale, Dom Moraes, Agha Shahid Ali, Bhartrihari and Jayadeva, to name but a random few.

In his introduction to his anthology of contemporary Indian poets, Hoskote locates himself and the other selected poets as those who find themselves “at home in a world in which the boundary between the local and the global has increasingly been blurred; they wrestle with the ethical and artistic dilemmas produced by such a blurring”. He also points out other characteristics: the fact that “these poets are not apologetic about the fact that they write in English”; a certain cosmopolitan ease with “uncertain contexts and plural inheritances”; an attention to craft; and “a shift from locale to elsewhereness”. As he remarked in the course of my interview with him, “Our generation is able to be situated without being rooted, able to travel without getting lost.’

In this interview, also published here, he traces his poetic journey from its early view of the poem as hermetic artefact to a more porous entity, inviting but no less mysterious, less opaque but no less magical. Through this entire journey, however, his writing has revealed a consistent and exceptional brilliance in its treatment of image. Hoskote’s metaphors are finely wrought, luminous and sensuous, combining an artisanal virtuosity with passion, turning each poem into a many-angled, multi-faceted experience, shadowy with contour and resonance.

The poems in this edition (including three unpublished works) reveal certain hallmarks of Hoskote’s aesthetic: a striking visuality, an abiding historical awareness, and the constant undertow of the archetypal and the mythic.

© Arundhathi Subramaniam

Also on this site
Spy, Interpreter, Double Agent
Interview with Ranjit Hoskote by Arundhathi Subramaniam.


Zones of Assault. Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 1991. ISBN: 81-7167-063-6.
The Cartographer’s Apprentice (with drawings by Laxman Shreshtha). The Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2000.
The Sleepwalker’s Archive. Single File, Mumbai, 2001.

Poetry (As Editor)
Reasons for Belonging: Fourteen Contemporary Indian Poets. Viking/Penguin Books India, New Delhi, 2002.

A Terrorist of the Spirit. Harper Collins, New Delhi, 1992. ISBN: 81-7223-061-3.

Art Criticism
Pilgrim, Exile, Sorcerer: The Painterly Evolution of Jehangir Sabavala. Eminence Designs, Mumbai, 1998. ISBN: 81-900602-2-8.
The Complicit Observer: Reflections on the Art of Sudhir Patwardhan. Eminence Designs/ Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai, 2004. ISBN: 81-902170-0-3.

In English
Nth Position
Brief bio-note and some poems by Ranjit Hoskote (‘The Surveyor’s Complaint’ and ‘Poste Restante’, among others).

Essay by Ranjit Hoskote, ‘Beyond the House of Wonders: Some Remarks on the Possibility of Inter-cultural Communication’ (1998).

Varnamala: Indian English Poetry
Ranjit Hoskote’s poems: ‘Moth’ and ‘Grandfather’s Estate’.

Essay by Ilija Trojanow and Ranjit Hoskote, ‘The Nonsense Mantras of our Time’.

Vedams Books from India
Details on Reasons for Belonging: Fourteen Contemporary Indian Poets (edited by Ranjit Hoskote).

Essay by Ilija Trojanow and Ranjit Hoskote, ‘Who Cares for Human Rights? Remember, It’s a Just War.’ (September 2002).

Vedams Books from India
Details on Pilgrim, Exile, Sorcerer: The Painterly Evolution of Jehangir Sabavala by Ranjit Hoskote.

Essay by Ranjit Hoskote, The Mob as Censor (The Hindu, February 2004). (On the attack of the Garden Art Gallery in Surat).

Anthology of Art
Essay by Ranjit Hoskote on the art of the future (November 2001).

Sunday Herald, Deccan Herald
‘Poems that bear the watermark of fable’: Profile of Ranjit Hoskote by AJ Thomas.


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