Poet, writer and journalist Vijay Nambisan, who had been terminally ill for quite some time, died on Thursday at the age of 54.

Nambisan’s poem Madras Central, published in 1988, won him the first ever All India Poetry Competition award organised by the Poetry Society of India and the British Council.

He co-authored a collection of poems, Gemini, in 1992 with Jeet Thayil and Dom Moraes. His other well-known works were Bihar is in the Eye of the Beholder (2000) and Language as an Ethic (2003). In 2015, Nambisan released a book of poems, First Infinities.


Historian Ramchandra Guha said he was sad to hear of Nambisan’s passing. “He was a wonderful writer and human being, with a gentle, dry, wit,” Guha said on Twitter. “Like his friend Dom Moraes, Vijay Nambisan was a fine prose stylist, as well. His book Bihar is in the Eye of the Beholder is superb.”

Poet and critic Ranjit Hoskote said even though he was aware of Nambisan’s terminal condition, he was “no less sad and bitter for it [his passing]”. “Vijay’s passing snatches from us a very fine poet, one who ranged passionately and memorably in the domains of memory and desire, of regret and laughter,” Hoskote told Scroll.in. “He was not afraid of lightness, of humour, which lent a particular tonic edge to his poetry.”

Hoskote said he remembered the days of being young poets in Mumbai, then Bombay, in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and the readings on terraces, in cafes and bars, in libraries, dimly lit rooms and college classrooms. “The jokes and the quarrels, the long walks across the Oval and Azad maidans, the offices of vanished magazines and now-transmogrified newspapers, the places our generation made its own, where our poems took shape and took wing,” he said.

“Vijay’s passing is a particular loss for our generation, the generation of Anglophone Indian poets who began publishing in the early 1990s,” Hoskote added.