The Allahabad-born poet and Distinguished Professor of English and Women’s Studies at the City University of New York passed away on November 22. The Asian American Writers’ Workshop articulated their condolences through some line from her poem Krishna, 3:29 am –
“The many births you have passed through
Try to remember them as I do mine
Memory is all you have”
Her poems are collected in several publications like Atmospheric Embroidery, Quickly Changing River, Raw Silk and Illiterate Heart. She has also received the 2002 PEN Open Book Award.
Poet and academic, Nabaneeta Dev Sen said “I had a lot of respect for her as a scholar and creative person. She had a very wide and wise outlook of life and literature.” She mentioned how the academician’s engagement covered “beyond India and the western world.”
Publishers Weekly noted her autobiographical memoir, Fault Lines to be one of the best books published in 1993. The book was revised with new materials and additions in 2003.
Indian poet and short story writer, Keki Daruwalla acknowledged her by saying, “Her output is phenomenal — memoir, scholarship, her writings on identity. She wrote on political subjects too, all that happened on the political stage was close to her heart.”
Daruwalla added on her exile that “She had a footloose childhood and exile was a part of her, till she settled with David (her husband).” She was born and brought up in Kerala and Sudan. Her exile was an issue that bothered her always.