International writing faculty
Ravi Shankar (Poetry/Creative nonfiction)

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, and with Reb Livingston, a collaborative chapbook, Wanton Textiles (No Tell Books, 2006). He currently serves on the Advisory Council for the Connecticut Center for the Book, reviews poetry for the Contemporary Poetry Review and along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, he edited Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond (W.W Norton & Co.). He is a recipient of a Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism (CCT) FY09 fellowship in Poetry, an occasional commentator on NPR and will have two chapbooks of poetry coming out in 2010.

Mentoring style

Ravi Shankar will work closely with students both in terms of closely reading and helping edit the work in question and engaging with the student's larger aesthetic project. Having worked as an editor and a publisher, Shankar will engage in a dialogue with the students on a number of levels, with the eventual goal of polishing the work for publication.

Lines from work

From 'Blotched in Transmission' in Instrumentality (Cherry Grove, 2004)

Even the breaths heaving in my chest do not belong to me, These wires of muscles tapping the hand's opposable thumb Upon the spacebar, and the precise machinery of two pupils Taking it in are not mine, though convenient to think so.

From 'Instrumentality' in Instrumentality (Cherry Grove, 2004)

Because before the invention of the pump, there was one less way to understand the human heart.

From 'Contraction' in Instrumentality (Cherry Grove, 2004)

Labored to braid from transparent diction Fiction, quick fix, quixotic fixation.
As the pulse of impulses
Drained through my veins, I tried to live
Twenty lives at once. Now one is plenty.

From 'Misty Blue' in Instrumentality (Cherry Grove, 2004)

Then as if from above Comes Misty Blue, a version Ella Fitzgerald sings. The music, while it lasts, changes everything.

From 'Slips and Atmospherics' Introduction in Language for a New Century (W.W. Norton & Co, 2008)

What I wished to have at my disposal, though I wouldn't have known it then, was a kind of oblique language, full of feints and allusions, glintings and possibilities, something that could move through the air like light, illuminating the unique yet utterly common situation I found myself in: made fun of in America for being too Indian, made fun of in India for being too American, part of and exiled from both places, a misfit who wanted nothing more than to belong.

From 'This House, My Bones' Introduction in Language for a New Century

In some generative ways, having no home means that it is everywhere, a center without circumference

From 'Earth of Drowned Gods' Introduction in Language for a New Century

The enormous machines whose gears and wheels turn the policies of the politicians are operative on a minute level, playing out upon the lives of those who live under prescriptions and laws they likely have had no hand in choosing. It is up to the writer, then, to interrogate where human interests can thrive in the suffocating matrix of political ideologies. It is up to the poet to serve as voice and witness in parts of the world where sometimes just the writing or reading of a poem is an act of courage and defiance.

From 'Movements' first published in the Cimarron Review

not telling a story,
but articulating each movement in full
before falling away, rising into the next instant, not knowing beforehand how it might feel to respond to the music, revealing that in costume, on stage, in motion, bodies need embody nobody save beauty.

From 'South of Hebron' first published in the Indiana Review

How small the rock is compared to the singular burden of being made unwanted in a land you were born in, for perpetuity, for no reason you will ever understand.

Translation of the 'Gayatri Mantra' from the Rig Veda

Oh manifest and unmanifest,
         wave and ray of breath,
red lotus of insight,
         transfix us from eye to navel
to throat, under canopy of stars
         spring from soil in an unbroken
arc of light that we might
         immerse ourselves until lit
from within like the sun itself.

From 'Hitchhiker' first published in Third Coast

Had I loaves for feet I'd eat myself.

From 'Ars Poetica with Grape and Litany' first published in Free Verse

Poems are various approaches, arcs shot towards the asymptote of knowing, which can never be reached, else once breached, cannot be returned from.

From 'Wanton Textiles' (No Tell Books, 2006) co-written with Reb Livingston

Our great religion, like Lawrence's,
is a belief in the blood, not wind
and quibbles flung out like corn to fowl,


Fellowships from: Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, New York State Council for the Arts, MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, Djerassi, Ragdale, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Breadloaf, Wesleyan Writers Conference

Finalist for the Connecticut Book Awards, Mississippi Review Poetry Contest, Indiana Review Poetry Contest, BOMB Poetry Prize, Madison Review Poetry Prize, The Bennett Prize for Poetry at Columbia University Academy of American Poets Walt Whitman Award for a First Book, Kenyon Review First Book Contest, Tupelo Press Chapbook Competition, Third Coast Poetry Prize

Judge for MidAtlantic Arts Commission, Maine Arts Commission, New York Foundation of the Arts, Connecticut Book Awards, IMPAC-Young Writers Program, Persea Books Lexi Rudnitsky Prize, Poets Out Loud Competition

Winner of Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, Second Place of the SLS (Summer Literary Seminars) Competition with a full fellowship to Kenya, Second Place in Vermont College & Hunger Mountain's Annual Poetry Prize, South by Southwest Web Award

Advisory Council Member, Connecticut Center for the Book, 2006-present