Priyadarshi Patnaik

Priyadarshi Patnaik (b. 1969) is a creative writer, painter, translator and photographer. A number of his poems and short-fiction have appeared in various journals outside and in India including Ariel, Oyster Boy Review, Hudson View, Melic Review, Still, Toronto Review, Kavya Bharati, Indian Literature and Muse India. His translations and critical writings on translation have appeared in Translation Today, Visva-Bharati Quarterly, Muse India and many edited volumes.

He has published two anthologies of poems, a critical work on Indian aesthetics and co-edited two volumes on Aging and Dying (Sage) and Time in the Indian Context (D K Printworld-in Press). He is presently editing a volume on Orissan Medieval Poets and writing a monograph on poet Achyutananda for Orissa Sahitya Akademi.

Patnaik is currently Associate Professor at the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT Kharagpur, where he teaches literature, communication and visual aesthetics. His research interests include Indian aesthetics, media & multimedia studies, visual & nonverbal communication, and translation.


My Daughter’s Shadow

Surprised they can touch
They stand still

They have so many colours
you will be amazed
by their depth texture
the shapes they take
like water
on the other side of light
somewhat shaped like your body
strapped to it

Yours is frozen in wonder
like a small still fish
and mine tired
smelling distant death

What else can I do
on this first meeting
this brief introduction
but say
“Look, this is your S-H-A-D-O-W!”


Night at Jagannatha  Temple

The star-printed wall-paper sky
flutters lightly against dark sandstones

The sleeping priests dream miracles
of holding shadow-of-time in hand

Lamps go out against temple walls
–  widows’ dirty white sarees

Silence wind of ages breathes
thousand whispers of dark blue sea

Ancient mouths of stones keep secret
A knife cuts the shout of life from death


1. Jagannatha: 12th century AD Hindu temple in India


The Song

The old men look at the world like it is a memory
                               Ernesto Sabato

Your voice breaks over the harmonium
like an old leaf the colour of
autumn as the notes of thumri  fade
into the distance in their
ageless sadness the way
they did twenty years back

An old man is only a memory
of a life that has lived him
like wind passing through the
grooves of a drying leaf

Your voice breaks again
My memories play with your
notes – ancient rains that
course through the veins of the day
– my seventy year old memory that
has already lost me


thumri:  A form in Indian classical music