Kersy Katrak

Kersy Katrak was born in Bombay in 1936, was ordained a Parsi priest at 12, and began writing poetry at 16. Mentored by Nissim Ezekial,Katrak was one of the finest poets published in the Illustrated weekly of India in the early post-independence years. In 1965, he founded MCM,the agency that went on to spearhead a creative revolution in Indian advertising. Katrak published four volumes of collected verse from 1969 through the next two decades: A Journal of the Way (1969) Diversions by the Wayside (1969) Underworld (1979) Purgatory: Songs from the Holy Planet (1984) He also published a book of spiritual essays, Five Little Sermons Went To Market (1971), co-written with his wife, Usha.

  • Collected Poems

    About the Book

    Adman, householder, mystic, public intellectual and ashram devotee, Kersy Katrak (1936-2007) has never quite received his due as a poet. Katrak’s ‘lush, provocative, and very readable’verse has, with its rare but persistent appearance in anthologies of Indian poetry in English, remained in a curious way at once unforgotten and unrecognized. This book aims, at long last,to remedy this state of affairs. It is the very first comprehensive collection of Katrak’s poetic work, most of it long out of print,some of it previously published only in hard-to-find periodicals. Katrak’s poetry resonates powerfully with Wallace Steven’s observation that ‘It is equal to living in a tragic land, To live in a tragic time’. His concerns remain,palpably,our concerns: a search for the everyday alchemy that might translate the visceral potentials of collective life into generative forms of belonging. This problem of the relation between inner energies and outer forms is at the core of Katrak’s work as a poet and a mystic. And it is what binds his esoteric commitments to his career in advertising. The anthropologist William Mazzarella’s critical introduction to the present volume is the first substantive exploration of these connections in Katrak’s life and work.