14 Recommended Translated Poetry Books in India

list of translated poetry books
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Team P3 curates a list of recommended translated poetry books in India for your TBR list!

There are few mediums as concise and precise to convey your emotions as poetry, which is why translating one becomes doubly difficult a task. Unlike prose, verses often use the reader’s knowledge of the language to play with it, to rebel against the established norms of writing. To transport all that in a foreign language is easier said than done.

In the selection of translated poetry books we feature today, the translations serve two purposes. While presenting the verses in a new language, they also ensure that the nuances and contexts aren’t lost on the reader unaware of the regional subtext.

If you love translated poetry, you will love reading Shakti Chattopadhyay’s Poetry: In Translation

All that being said and done, let’s look at some of the best Indian-translated poetry books of all time. If we missed a translated poetry book you think deserves a place here, comment below and we’ll consider adding it to our list here. Let’s begin.

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Recommended Translated Poetry Books

Dancing Earth

Title: Dancing Earth

Author: Edited by Robin Singh Ngangom and K S Nongkynrih

Publisher: Penguin India

Price: 247

Pages: 344


Topping the list of Translated Poetry Books, this anthology takes its name from the eponymous title poem, The Dancing Earth, and much like this piece, the collection itself is a celebration of life’s mysterious forces, complete with its unpredictability, richness, and contradictions. North-Eastern poetry often reflects contemporary events that are marked by violence, as seen in pieces like Thangjam Ibopishak’s I Want to be Killed By an Indian Bullet and Chandrakanta Murasingh’s contemplative portrayal of a minister with neither inside nor outside.

Yet, the collection is not limited to the somber tones of conflict. It describes the beauty of ancestral heritage through Temsula Ao’s poems, which pay homage to stone-people ancestors, and Mamang Dai’s depictions of swift rivers and primeval forests. The Shillong poets bring their mist-shrouded pine slopes, red cherries, and gridlocked streets.

It’s fascinating how this collection bridges linguistic and temporal divides. It brings together the most prominent voices from the North-East while going beyond all the language barriers and including works from various time periods. The poems here are filled with native imagery and powerful, yet lyrical, cadences. They celebrate the unique flavors and voices of the region while highlighting the strength and perseverance of its people and their connection to the land.

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Hundred Years of Odia Poetry

Title: Hundred Years of Odia Poetry

Author: Edited by Prafulla K. Mohanty, Chitta R. Bhoi, and Phani Mohanty

Publisher: Authorspress

Price: 235

Pages: 198


Second on the list of Translated Poetry Books, this anthology showcases the diversity and depth of Odia poetry. With contributions from 89 poets, edited by prominent Odia writers, the anthology captures the vast spectrum of human experiences, emotions, and themes. From the classics that evoke nostalgia for the Odia culture to the more contemporary pieces that highlight the complexities of modern life, Hundred Years of Odia Poetry is a journey through which you can see the evolution of Odia literature.

The book deserves a place of honor on the bookshelves of anyone interested in the beauty of Indian literature. Not only does it highlight the voices of Odia literature over the decades, but it also shows humanity in all its forms through voices that demand to be heard.

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You Are Neera

Title: You Are Neera

Author: Written by Sunil Gangopadhyay, translated by Arunava Sinha

Publisher: HarperPerennial

Price: 491

Pages: 180


Third on the list of Translated Poetry Books is this amazing book by Sunil Gangopadhyay, who is a towering figure among Bengal’s poets in the latter half of the twentieth century for he left an indelible mark with his intense romantic verses, and this translation perfectly captures the essence of his poetic prowess.

The book contains a continuous sequence of love poems, all dedicated to a mythical woman named Neera. These verses, written throughout Gangopadhyay’s career, show the spectrum of love, from the fiery, sexually charged verses of youthful infatuation to the passionate and sensual rhythms of mature relationships, and finally to the bittersweet memories of romance in middle age.

Arunava Sinha’s translation keeps the lyricism of the original work while also adding a new layer of accessibility to these timeless poems. This collection is a must-read for anyone who appreciates poetry and the exploration of love and longing.

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The World That Belongs To Us: An Anthology of Queer Poetry from South Asia

Title: The World That Belongs To Us: An Anthology of Queer Poetry from South Asia

Author: Edited by Aditi Angiras and Akhil Katyal

Publisher: HarperCollins

Price: 439

Pages: 240


Next on the list of Translated Poetry Books, is this collection. Edited with sensitivity and vision by Aditi Angiras and Akhil Katyal, this collection is a bold and necessary step toward amplifying voices that have long been marginalized. This anthology offers a platform for the best of contemporary queer poetry from South Asia, spanning not only the subcontinent but also its many diasporas. You’ll find many well-known names while also discovering plenty of new voices.

The themes explored here are as diverse as the cultures they represent. From the complexities of desire and loneliness to explorations of sexual relationships and struggles, from discussions of caste and language to activism on the streets and within the homes, the anthology touches upon the manifold facets of queer life in South Asia.

The poems here travel from city to city, region to region, from Bangalore to New York City, and are written in Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Urdu, Manipuri, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, and, of course, English. They flesh out the intricacies, politics, aesthetics, and ethics of a community that has long yearned for representation. It challenges stereotypes, celebrates authenticity, and invites you to look at and understand the complex mosaic of queer existence.

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Wild Words: Four Tamil Poets

Title: Wild Words: Four Tamil Poets

Author: Written by Malathi Maithri, Salma, Kutti Revathi, and Sukirtharani, translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom

Publisher: Harper Perennial India

Price: 245

Pages: 132


Gorgeously translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom, this anthology of poems by Malathi Maithri, Salma, Kutti Revathi, and Sukirtharani expresses the spirit of women who defy societal norms and raise their voices in poetic rebellion. In the early 2000s, these poets faced relentless opposition from those trying to act as guardians of Tamil culture. They were accused of vulgarity and lack of modesty for daring to challenge the status quo. 

More than a decade later, the divide in how readers and critics perceive women poets can be easily seen. These poets, often labeled as ‘bad girls’ by traditional standards, are fearless, outspoken, and determined to question the prescribed rules. From the complexities of gender and sexuality to the unapologetic celebration of desire, from the exploration of societal norms to the questioning of established traditions, these poems seek to provoke and outrage and make you think, changing the definitions of what it means to be a woman and a poet in today’s society.

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Selected Poems

Title: Selected Poems

Author: Written by Joy Goswami, translated by Sampurna Chattarji

Publisher: HarperCollins

Price: 218

Pages: 272


This collection is befitting to this list of Translated Poetry Books. It collects the three distinct phases of poetry in Joy Goswami’s career as a poet, illustrating his evolution over the years. Sampurna Chattarji’s translation preserves the essence of his work, and you can feel the same inventiveness and mystery here that is characteristic of his original works. The poems in this collection contain within them a sea of emotions, both mysterious and visionary, anguished and hopeful.

Some poems in this collection shimmer with a sense of mischief, filled with lighthearted humor, while others are more melancholic, a reflection on the complexities of human emotions. It is this ability to travel across an emotional spectrum that makes Goswami’s work immortal. Not only does this compilation keep the essence of the original Bengali poems, but it also shows the breadth of work throughout Goswami’s illustrious career.

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Khooni Vaisakhi: A Poem from the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, 1919

Title: Khooni Vaisakhi: A Poem from the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, 1919

Author: Written by Nanak Singh, translated by Navdeep Suri

Publisher: Harper Perennial India

Price: 408

Pages: 144


Khooni Vaisakhi is a historically significant work and a classic of Punjabi literature written by a survivor of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of April 13, 1919. Translated into English by his grandson, Navdeep Suri, this book covers one of the darkest chapters in Indian history under British colonial rule. Nanak Singh, a twenty-two-year-old at the time, was among the peaceful protestors rallying against the tyrannical Rowlatt Act. He managed to survive the horrific massacre by hiding among the hundreds of bodies. Through this poem, he chronicles the fateful day he had to witness and is a searing critique of British rule. 

Banned immediately after its publication all the way back in 1920 for its commentary on the Raj, the poem is as much a literary text as a historical artifact. Written with eloquence and emotion, the poem has been translated while keeping the original sentiments intact. The book is a bilingual on this list of Translated Poetry Books, containing both the Punjabi and the English text, and is accompanied by essays that help you better appreciate it.

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Poem A Day

Title: Poem A Day

Author: Gulzar

Publisher: HarperCollins

Price: 2598

Pages: 968


Curated by the legendary poet Gulzar, this is a comprehensive volume of Indian poetry that includes 365 memorable poems—one for each day of the year—written over seven decades since India gained independence. Gulzar’s selection presents a panoramic view of India’s poetic landscape with the works of 279 poets from 34 Indian languages, including Hindi, Urdu, and English. 

What makes the anthology even better is Gulzar’s personal touch as he translates each poem into English and Hindustani. The poems featured in this collection from the list of Translated Poetry Books are transcend geographical boundaries, spanning the Indian Subcontinent, from the north to the south, west to east, and even extending to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. Each day brings forth a new poet, a fresh perspective, and an exploration of history and culture.

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The Weaver's Songs

Title: The Weaver's Songs

Author: Written by Kabir, translated by Vinay Dharwadker

Publisher: Penguin India

Price: 327

Pages: 328


Kabir’s verses are sung and read even now among people from all walks of life, even after five centuries. One of the greatest mystics and philosophers from the Indian subcontinent, Kabir lived between 1398 to 1448 and was a versatile mystic, satirist, poet, and thinker. This collection helps bring his words to the English-speaking population while keeping the wit and wisdom of the original poems alive along with his structure, voice, and style.

The poetry here goes beyond the religious and philosophical traditions of that time and stands somewhere in between the philosophies of Hinduism, Islam, Bhakti, Yoga, religion, and secularism. Its beauty lies in the deceptively simple language that urges you to look beyond the surface and welcome life in all its complexities and absurdities.

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Grow Long, Blessed Night: Love Poems from Classical India

Title: Grow Long, Blessed Night: Love Poems from Classical India

Author: Edited and translated by by Martha Ann Selby

Publisher: OUP

Price: 1988

Pages: 283


Next on the list of Translated Poetry Books is Grow Long, Blessed Night that presents a world of love and desire to you through the verses of classical India. Edited and translated by Martha Ann Selby, it features 150 erotic poems from India’s three classical languages: Old Tamil, Maharastri Prakit, and Sanskrit. Selby’s translations perfectly bridge the gap between the original verses and the intricacies of English poetry, so they stand on their own. 

The poems are grouped according to themes that display the multifaceted colors of love. Selby’s annotations help add insights and context whenever necessary, enriching your understanding of the cultural and historical nuances. These ancient poems, dating as early as the first century CE and as late as the eighth century, have universal themes without any boundaries.

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Celebrating the Best of Urdu Poetry

Title: Celebrating the Best of Urdu Poetry

Author: Selected by Kamna Prasad and Khushwant Singh, Translated by Khushwant Singh

Publisher: Penguin India

Price: 196

Pages: 208


We cannot miss Urdu Poetry in a list of Translated Poetry Books.

Urdu has long had a rich literary culture and this collection is a tribute to that heritage. Translated by Khushwant Singh, the book is certain to be a treat for lovers of Urdu poetry. For centuries, the language has produced melodious poetry and this anthology brings the best of it together in one place for a wider readership. 

The beauty of Urdu lies in its rich linguistic heritage, influenced by Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Hindi, Sanskrit, Dakni, and Braj and it’s been passionately nurtured by Muslim rulers and nawabs, who recognized its cultural significance. However, over time, the language has faced challenges and risks fading into obscurity. This collection attempts to rekindle that flame of Urdu’s heritage and reintroduce the splendor of this language by collecting the best of its poetry over the last two centuries.

Khushwant Singh’s translations preserve their lyrical allure and emotional depth while adding his characteristic flair. Each poem here depicts the complexities of love, longing, beauty, and the human experience.

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Abhijnanashakuntalam: The Recognition of Shakuntala

Title: Abhijnanashakuntalam: The Recognition of Shakuntala

Author: Written by Kalidasa, translated by Vinay Dharwadker

Publisher: Penguin

Price: 482

Pages: 368


Abhijnanashakuntalam is a classic Indian text that tells the love story of Shakuntala, a girl with semi-divine origins, and Dushyanta, a noble human king. Written by the poet Kalidasa, this play is a dramatic retelling of an episode from the Mahabharata that has themes of romance, destiny, and the struggle for recognition. Shakuntala and Dushyanta share a brief yet passionate and secret union in her father’s forest ashram. In the throes of their love, Dushyanta promises Shakuntala to make her his queen when she joins him in his capital and seals this promise by giving her his signet ring. 

However, fate had other plans. Dushyanta falls under a curse that erases all memory of Shakuntala, while she loses the precious ring that would have enabled him to recognize her. Will they ever be united? That’s what this classic poem is all about. The book is considered to be the world’s first full-length play that’s centered on a love story.

Vinay Dharwadker’s translation retains the poetic beauty of Kalidasa’s verses, making the Sanskrit text accessible to the modern reader. His commentary and notes enrich your understanding of the text while underlining its cultural significance.

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In The Shade Of The Sahyadri: Selections From Malayalam Poetry, Short Fiction, and Drama

Title: In The Shade Of The Sahyadri: Selections From Malayalam Poetry, Short Fiction, and Drama

Author: C. N. Sreekantan Nair, G. S. Jayasree, and P. P. Raveendran

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Price: 190

Pages: 200


In The Shade Of The Sahyadri takes you to the Malayalam literature of the bygone century. The collection has been curated by C. N. Sreekantan Nair, G. S. Jayasree, and P. P. Raveendran, all prominent names in Malayalam literature. Divided into three sections, this anthology presents the works of poets like O.N.V. Kurup, K. Satchidanandan, K. Ayyappa Paniker, and others in the first section. These poems showcase the breadth and complexity of Malayalam poetry while highlighting the many regional and cultural nuances. 

The second section contains short stories by some of the biggest names in contemporary Malayalam literature, authors like Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, T. Padmanabhan, and Paul Zacharia. These stories are as imaginative as they’re culturally and socially conscious. The final section features the play Kanchana Sita by C. N. Sreekantan Nair, a play that revolves around some of the most intense and crucial moments of the Ramayana.

This book highlights the rich cultural and social contexts of Kerala with the translators ensuring you get to explore these creations in the best way possible. It’s a comprehensive collection of literary works that helps you better understand the beauty of Malayalam literature.

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Poet of the Revolution: Memoirs and Poems

Title: Poet of the Revolution: Memoirs and Poems

Author: Written by Lal Singh Dil, Translated by Nirupama Dutt

Publisher: Penguin India

Price: 386

Pages: 216


This is the story of how one man fought many structures of oppression to become a poet and a revolutionary. Born before the partition of the Indian subcontinent in the untouchable Dalit community, his life and works are inspirational and courageous, searching and demanding justice. Crisp and emotional, his poetry and words were a force to reckon with, speaking for his oppressed and marginalized community, and calling for an equal and just society. 

Through this book, we look at how his life transforms, from a poet to a Naxalite. Ultimately, it’s also a tale of how this corrupt and hierarchical society has no place for ideals and convictions as Lal Singh is tortured at the hands of the police for years. 

Nirupama Dutt’s translation of his poetry and memoirs helps spread his words to a much larger audience while being as impactful as it was in its original language. The masterpiece from Translated Poetry Books,  shows a mirror to society, with its violence and discrimination that’s allowed to operate in broad daylight. It’s a story of the marginalized in this country, a story of a man’s commitment to fight for what’s right and just, and a story of how literature holds the power to change hearts and minds.

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Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh doesn't know what to do with his life, so he writes. He also doesn't know what to write, so he reads. Gift him a book if you chance upon him and he'll love you forever.

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