Besides his large body of published poetry, he is also known for his work ‘Language as an Ethic’.

Madras Central poet and writer Vijay Nambisan passes away at 54Paperwall
news Death Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 13:03

Vijay Nambisan, poet and writer, well known for his poem ‘Madras Central’ that won the All Indian Poetry Competition in 1988, died on July 10 at the age of 54. 

Nambisan was the co-author of the poetry book ‘Gemini’ with Jeet Thayil and Dom Moraes. Nambisan has also translated the devotional poetry of Poonthanam and Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri.

Besides his large body published poetry, he is also known for his work ‘Language as an Ethic’ where he laments the "debasement" of language and appeals to readers and writers for language to be used correctly. 

His other works include ‘Bihar is in the Eyes of the Beholder’ and translations of two 16th century Kerala poets, from Sanskrit and Malayalam. His first collection of poems since 1992, ‘First Infinities’ was published in 2015.

Read his poem ‘Madras Central’:

“The black train pulls in at the platform,

Hissing into silence like hot steel in water.

Tell the porters not to be so precipitate-

It is good, after a desperate journey,

To rest a moment with your perils upon you.

The long rails recline into a distance

Where tomorrow will come before I know it.

I cannot be in two places at once:

That is axiomatic. Come, we will go and drink

A filthy cup of tea in a filthy restaurant.


It is difficult to relax. But my head spins

Slower and slower as the journey recedes.

I do not think I shall smoke a cigarette now.

Time enough for that. Let me make sure first

For the hundredth time, that everything’s complete.


My wallet’s in my pocket; the white nylon bag

With the papers safe in its lining-fine;

The book and my notes are in the outside pocket;

The brown case is here with all its straps secure.

I have everything I began the journey with,


And also a memory of my setting out

When I was confused, so confused. Terrifying

To think we have such power to alter our states,

Order comings and goings: know where we’re not wanted

And carry our unwantedness somewhere else.”

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