Hong Kong: Chameleon Press. ISBN: 978-988-18623-1-0.

Poems in Ghostmasters have featured in Wasafiri, Washington Square, Meanjin, Tinfish, XCP, How2journal, 91st Meridian, Fourth River, Quay Journal, Filling Station, Oxford Magazine, Papertiger, In Posse Review, Holly Rose Review, Almost Island, Softblow, Cha, Asia Literary Review, Indian Literature, Kavya Bharati, Chandrabhaga, Caravan magazine, Atlas and Zoland Poetry.



“Mani Rao’s poetry is entirely genuine in a way that I can’t help knowing from line to line. That is its risk and its vulnerability. The poems are not games but seem to draw from offstage but direct, lived experience, a close attention to the momentary and an acute awareness of both self and reader.  This is no rudderless, fashionable disjunction: for several years, she has been cutting her own fiercely singular path through the thickets of our language; with each new book her compositional values become both more light and more precise, and her gestures—for this is a poetry of intense ellipsis—more sure, more instantaneous, more stunning.”

— Vivek Narayanan

“Mani’s poems are death-defying acts of language, more daring than love-poems because they are unafraid to let love go, to release the self from itself. Lost to rediscovered words, miscommunications, fading memories, frogs and natural forces are arranged and rearranged here into new and devastating ways of seeing and thinking about our lives.”

— Cyril Wong

“There’s an uncanny lightness in Mani Rao’s poetry, a buoyancy that lifts the reader weightlessly to a safer place.  Again and again in this wonderful book, I’m moved and gratified by the effortlessness of Rao’s obedience, even as she attends the language with devoted attention.  If you believe that reverence is a grave matter, this isn’t the book for you.  For those who understand that the contingent is our truest place on earth–start shouting “I love you Mani Rao!”

— Claudia Keelan

“Mani Rao is an endlessly interesting poet, and in Ghostmasters the full range of her talent is on display, in poems that pluck and probe the various worlds of her imagination. “Maybe the highway robbers will have a special smile for me,” she writes, and indeed the people, places, and things that haunt this book have their own special expressions, which reveal dark and delightful truths from “the ledge of knowing.” Watch your step!”

— Christopher Merrill

“While Rao’s latest poems retain the freshness and immediacy of her penultimate collection, Echolocation (Hong Kong: Chameleon Press 2003), it also finds deeper satisfaction in the processes of questioning and undermining. Rao’s candid and sometimes acidulous perspective tugs insistently at the pretence of reality so that it tears away to illuminate a world of isolation and oblivion. Her hard-earned revelations enable the poet to shed past obsessions – the oft-romanticised “lovers of the moment” in “Choose”, “the hourglass of my body” and the “fat satin of gluttony” in “Grand Finale” – so that she may come to peace with “the memory of that knowledge by / which we continue to regard as true what we have known to be true” (“q”).”

— Amos Toh | Read the full review in Issue 8 of Mascara Literary Review | October 2010

“Rao has become a master poet, and as with many master poets, her poems have become more difficult and demanding. Any reader comparing 100 Poems: 1985-2005 to her latest collection, Ghostmasters, will quickly spot the growth and change as Rao pursues her self-defined aesthetic, myths, and—yes—theology.”

— Reid Mitchell | Read the full review in  Cha | February 2011
Poet, translator and scholar based in India, writing in English.