FORTHCOMING: Kalidasa for the 21st Century Reader. Aleph Books

“Mani Rao gives us versions from what she tells us is Kalidasa’s least admired poem –  but, completely reinventing Sanskrit translation, she also gives us new eyes by which to think on it.” – Almost IslandRead excerpts from Rtusamharam on Almost Island‘s latest issue hereMore excerpts in The Book of Aleph, pages 110-117. Read here.


FORTHCOMING: A Singapore edition of echolocation, Math Paper Press, July 2014.



Listing in The Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry. 2nd Ed. Edited by Jeremy Noel-Todd ad Ian Hamilton. Oxford University Press, 2013: Born in India, Mani Rao moved to Hong Kong in 1993, where she published six of her eight books of poetry. More recently she has pursued doctoral studies in Religion while continuing her studies in Sanskrit and dividing her time between the USA and India.  However, neither personal biography nor geopolitical location are prominent in her poems, which are almost all short, no more than a page.  She often works in frequently end-stopped, staccato lines of variable length, with a line not necessarily connecting to its predecessor, and with unstable pronouns and gender ambiguity confounding any notion of a discrete, confessional self—although there are traces of narrative. Among the early collections, The Last Beach (Asia 2000, 1999), is perhaps the strongest. Echolocation (Chameleon Press, 2003), which appears to recollect a love affair echoed against the sound of the sea and the radio, switches visually to prose, with each isolated sentence also becoming the measure of the line.  100 Poems, 1985-2005 (Chameleon, 2006) excerpts from six previous books.  Ghostmasters (Chameleon, 2010) ramps up her linguistic playfulness.  Rao’s version of the Bhagavad Gita (Autumn Hill / Penguin, 2010 / 2011) unpacks the original Sanskrit with a range of avant garde techniques—in prosody, diction, mise-en-page and lineation—rendering a new translation of the well-known philosophical text unlike any before it.  Her most recent poetry continues her erotic themes but makes more explicit reference to stories and characters drawn from Indian and Western classical sources.



POEMS from the manuscript of Gods Are Us, based on Greek and Indian mythology.

  • “Sing to Me” and “Monkey Puzzle” from the manuscript selected as Anomalous Chapbook Contest Notable, read here.
  • “Poem, Sisyphus” in Omniverse, read here.
  • “Ode to Kali” and “Ravana’s Garden” in Muse India‘s issue on ‘Poetizing Indian Heritage,’ read here.
  • Twelve poems including “Jove’s Collar,” “My Daughter Philomela” in Almost Island, read here.
  • “Ding Dong Bell” and “Peace Treaty” in Mascara, read, here.
  • “Ganga Jump” in Desilit, read here.
  • “Father’s Day” in Cordite, read here.
  • “Midas, A Casino In Vegas,” “Ouranos Returns,” and “Cupid & Psyche” in Mascara, read here.
  • Five poems just out in Harper Collins Anthology of Poetry by Indians, 2012. Read “Shiva’s Digs” here.

For poems from previous books, see ‘books’ tab, or publications list in the ‘bio’ tab


  • “A Brief History of the Bhagavad Gita’s Canonization” in Religion Compass. (Email Mani for a pdf if you do not have access to Wiley).
  • “Writing to Stop.” Read in 91st Meridien.
  • “Automatic Writing – Real, Surreal, Hyper-real” in Fulcrum 7. Download pdf here.
  • “Repetitiveness in Gita translations.” Read in eXchanges.
  • Translator’s Note on the Gita translation. Read in eXchanges.
  • “Stretch.”  XCP. Download pdf here.
  • “Halloween” in Dimsum. Download pdf here.
  • “Decoding Augustine via Saussure.” In-Between Journal of Literary Criticism. Download pdf here.
  • “Caterpillar to Butterfly: Thoreau’s dietary journey.” Thoreau Society Bulletin. Read here.
  • “Lorine Niedecker Condens.” Interim. Read here.
  • Review of Arvind K. Mehrotra’s Songs of KabirTranslation Review (Vol 83, Issue 1, 2012). Download pdf here.
  • Review of Mohammad A Quayum’s Rabindranath Tagore: Selected Short Stories. Cha (Mar 2012, Issue 16.) Read here.


Mani Rao is the author of eight poetry books and a translation of the Bhagavad Gita.