Ravi Shankar is Associate Professor and Poet-in-Residence at Central Connecticut State University and the founding editor of the international online journal of the arts, Drunken Boat. He has published a book of poems, Instrumentality (Cherry Grove), named a finalist for the 2005 Connecticut Book Awards. His creative and critical work has previously appeared in such publications as The Paris Review, Poets & Writers, Time Out New York, The Massachusetts Review, Fulcrum, McSweeney's and AWP's The Writer's Chronicle, among many others. He has taught at Queens College, University of New Haven, and Columbia University, where he received his MFA in Poetry. He has appeared as a commentator on NPR and Wesleyan Radio and read his work in many places, including the Asia Society, St. Mark's Poetry Project and the National Arts Club. He currently serves on the Advisory Council for the Connecticut Center for the Book and along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, is co-editing Language for a New Century, an anthology of contemporary South Asian, East Asian Poetry, due out with W.W. Norton & Co. in Spring 2008.

Interview on Jacket Magazine
Ten Truisms and a Lie, Sitcomposite
poem with audio
additional poems

Three Poems by Ravi Shankar

How the Search Ended

Before the bus flattened me,
I was searching for a scent
Never to be remembered
Until it was smelled again.

My fault not the driverís:
I had stopped to stare at a girl
Undressing in her window.
I was too far to smell her.

Earlier, I had visited a palm reader,
Not to trace my lifeline, merely
To discover where to buy
An oversize neon hand.

On the way home, my head jangled
With a premise: Life is either more or less
Serious than I imagine it to be.
And then came the bus.

[from Instrumentality (Cherry Grove, 2004)]


Slagheaps of stone once an ancient sea
floor, now metamorphosed into foliated
slabs that jut in cragged angles breakable

along two planes of cleavage and grain
by splitters who lounge with lunch pails
and idle pit hammers beside a rusted-out

compressor, eyeing us warily. In a haze
of dust, we trace the mottled texture,
gray-green flat enough to hone a knife on,

durable enough to use for sill and lintel,
billiard-table bed and grave marker. Nouns
unlike our fingers: resistant to weathering.


Obliquely, lashed by the North Wind,
which doesnít exist on the skin, like a mule
I trudged through pisspots and crumbling
crematoriums, sans passport, lewd as a turbine,
unnoticed by the dark men with dogs.
Flailed grain for a bed, headlights for lamplight,
whatever I wanted, I stole, the moment
a cashier rings up a purchase the perfect
time to palm and pocket. Overhead the sky
weighed a trillion tons, deformed topographical
maps into letterforms. How exactly does milk
of magnesium taste? Iíve never had it
so good as when I confused a cactus
for a circus and joined acrobats in dismount
even though, it was pointed out to me later,
I remained on the parquet. Hardly!
Iím no cantaloupe shuddering in stalls,
brain-skinned, shipped by multinationals.
Iíve never wanted for a cul-de-sac or a man-o-war.
Had I loaves for feet Iíd eat myself.