Born in Mumbai (Bombay), Ezekiel has been described as ‘the father of post-independence Indian poetry in English’. His heritage is Indian Jewish. He received a BA in Literature from Wilson College, Bombay University in 1947 and studied philosophy at Birkbeck College, London. He held the post of Professor of English at Bombay University and edited journals, including ‘Poetry India’, ‘Quest’, ‘Imprint’ and the Indian ‘P.E.N’. He was also a playwright, actor, broadcaster and social commentator.  Ezekiel was visiting Professor at Leeds University (1964). He contributed to several conferences and lecture tours. He translated Marathi poetry and mentored other poets, including Don Moraes. 

His poetry collections include A Time to Change (1952), Sixty Poems (1953), The Third (1959), The Unfinished Man (1960) and The Exact Name (1965). Ezekiel’s writing is thought to have been influenced by TS Eliot, WB Yeats, Ezra Pound and Rainer Maria Rilke as well as, more generally, England’s post-war movement.  His poetry ranges between tight, metrical structure and free verse.  His voice has been described as distinct and ironic. 

He received the Sahitya Akademi cultural award in 1983 and the Padma-Shri, India’s highest civilian honour, in 1988.   

Poems by Nissim Ezekiel

The Night of the Scorpion - Nissim Ezekiel