Ravi Shankar Poet

Ravi Shankar is an award-winning Indian-American poet whose work explores the themes of multiculturalism and identity, among others. Born in Virginia, Ravi was raised only speaking the Tamil language of South Asia and spent several formative years of his childhood living in India. This multicultural and international upbringing has shaped his work as a poet, as much of his writing explores ideas of identity as well as interactions between and within different cultures. Through his poems, Ravi hopes to improve the stale and monodimensional portrayals of Middle Eastern and Asian cultures in Western literature and art through richer, more honest depictions of peoples around the world.

He has published or edited ten books and chapbooks of poetry such as Instrumentality, Andal: The Autobiography of a Goddess, The Golden Shovel Anthology, and more. Additionally, his poems have been highlighted in The New York Times, Gwarlingo, Contemporary Poetry Review, and dozens of other publications. Ravi Shankar has won a Pushcart Prize, the 2010 National Poetry Review Prize for his collection Deepening Groove, and other accolades. He has developed a writing style characterized as “restless, lurching, hungry for surprise, the verbs packed with velocity, the register swinging between formal and the demotic (both American and Indian)” (Poetry International Rotterdam).

After earning a degree from BA from the University of Virginia and an MFA from Columbia University, Ravi Shankar entered academia. He currently teaches for the New York Writers Workshop, where he enjoys the opportunity to blend his own egalitarian philosophy toward education and help writers of all levels and ages to grow. Previously, he was a faculty member for the first international MFA program at City University of Hong Kong, where he was able to further his commitment to exploring other cultures and their poetic traditions. As a result, Ravi is deeply interested in pedagogical studies, and he has even written an essay on the use of fractals to inspire creative writing which appeared in the journal Writing & Pedagogy.

In 1999, Ravi Shankar co-founded Drunken Boat, an electronic journal of literature and the arts that is now one of the oldest digital publications of its kind. At its outset, Drunken Boat boasted only an all-volunteer staff, but as time went on and technology developed, Ravi was able to grow Drunken Boat into a platform that could present works across a wide range of genres, languages, and more. A certified nonprofit, Drunken Boat is working to achieve financial sustainability, and Ravi is always looking for opportunities to help accomplish that goal.

Drunken Boat offers a forum for art that pushes boundaries and challenges established norms within the arts as well as providing a space to celebrate the work of traditionally underrepresented artists: women, racial or ethnic minorities, people of color, queer, differently-abled, gender nonconforming artists, and others. Today, Ravi is a member of Drunken Boat’s Board of Directors, but in the past he served as the Editor-in-Chief and Executive Director of the journal for 15 years.

Ravi Shankar currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

[Language for a New Century is an] extraordinary, library-in-one volume: what a resource! The editors have boldly envisaged and compiled a beautiful achievement for world literature. Nadine Gordimer

Nobel Prize winning author

Selected Awards and Achievements


Ravi Shankar has been featured in the New York Times, the Paris Review, the Financial Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

He has appeared as a commentator on the BBC, NPR and the Jim Lehrer News Hour.

He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Jentel Foundation and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.

Ravi Shankar was the longtime chairman of the Connecticut Young Writers Trust. He now teaches for the New York Writers Workshop.

His next poetry collection will be released in the spring of 2017.

Contact Ravi Shankar