Sukrita Paul Kumar


Sukrita Paul Kumar, a well-known poet and critic in English was born and brought up in Kenya and is at present living in Delhi. She held the Aruna Asaf Ali Chair at the University of Delhi, till recently. An Honorary Fellow of International Writing Programme, University of Iowa (USA) and a former Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, she was also an invited poet in residence at Hong Kong Baptist University. She has published several collections of poems in English including, Folds of Silence, Without Margins, Rowing Together and Apurna. Her poems selected and translated by the eminent lyricist Gulzar has been published by HarperCollins as a bilingual book, Poems Come Home.

Sukrita’s major critical works include Narrating Partition, Conversations on Modernism, The New Story and Man, Woman and Androgyny. Some of her co-edited books are Speaking for Herself: An Anthology of Asian Women’s Writings, Ismat, Her Life, Her Times, Interpreting Homes in South Asian Literature and Women’s Studies in India: Contours of Change. As Director of a UNESCO project on “The Culture of Peace”, she edited Mapping Memories, a volume of Urdu short stories from India and Pakistan. She has two books of translations, Stories of Joginder Paul and the novel Sleepwalkers. She is the chief editor of the book on Cultural Diversity in India published by Macmillan India and prescribed by the University of Delhi.

A recipient of many prestigious fellowships and residencies, Sukrita has lectured at many universities in India and abroad. A solo exhibition of her paintings was held at AIFACS, Delhi. A number of Sukrita’s poems have emerged from her experience of working with homeless people.


Tai Chi

High strung and pulled to the
Roots in the eyes of the other

Stillness finely balanced
On the thread of their vision

Tuned to the Still Point
The lovers feel the earth move.


Tai Chi
Fills the Junction Road Park
Early morning in Hong Kong

Squirrels stand in attention
Birds hold silence

The sun breaks through the dawn
To join the Chinese song and chatter.


Musical notes
Dropping from finger tips
Gliding with the breeze

Picking the blue of the skies
from one end,
Offering it to the other


As the mind travels
to the toes, to
the front
and then the back of the feet
fixing itself in the heels

the earth moves on its axis.


Liberation at Kappad, Calicut

Vasco de Gama,
I shake hands with you
Across time and space

Do you know
This time
I welcome you?

To fight back and
Call out “Quit India”

Each wave on this beach
Brings a loud throb from the
Heart of the Indian Ocean
Sighs from history

We had pepper
You came…

Pepper that preserved
European meat

Burnt our eyes
And insides
For centuries

So much
for the trade with you

The sun
a witness
To your arrival
And the aftermath

Waters folding over folds
Somersaulting tides

Tales hidden within
Layers on layers
Spilling over
Bleeding on the sands and

Washing away at once

Here at Kappad
I see
The legendary black crow
Diving from the skies and
Lifting the scepter of
Vasco de Gama
Off the shores

The frothy ocean
churns out
morrows of freedom.


(To Sonu’s Little One)

Diya looks under the bed
Behind doors, inside the
Cupboard too

Up into the skies

She calls out

Where, where is Diya
she asks

She looks in the mirror
No, not Diya

Her eyes
Empty on the road

She calls out

Dishes washed,
The house across
Swept and mopped
Her mother returns

Diya leaps back
Into her face.



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