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School of English and Drama

Dr Nisha Ramayya, BA, MA, DPhil (RHUL)


Senior Lecturer In Creative Writing | Co-Director of Undergraduate Admissions



I grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, making annual trips to Hyderabad, India, and moved down south to study a BA in English and an MA in Poetic Practice at Royal Holloway, University of London. I returned to Glasgow for a few wonderfully warm and profoundly formative years working at Glasgow Women’s Library, after which I moved to London (where I remain!) for a Practice-Based Research PhD at RHUL. My doctoral research focussed on experimental feminist poetics, surveying a historically and formally wide range of writers and artists, and I experimented with Sanskrit, Tantra, and British-Indian history, identity, and experience in the process. I love to think about poetry in an ever-expanding sense, to include a multitude of theoretical, disciplinary, and formal approaches.

Undergraduate Teaching

  • Creative Writing 1
  • Creative Writing (Poetry) 2
  • Poetry at Work
  • Creative Writing (Advanced Poetry) 3: The Poetics of Translation  


Research Interests:

  • Contemporary and Experimental Poetry and Poetics
  • Critical Race Theory and Black Study
  • Feminist and Queer Theory
  • Visual, Sound, and Video Poetry, and Performance

Recent and On-Going Research

I am committed to interdisciplinary and practice-based research, and my work includes poetry, creative-critical writing, essays, reviews, and scholarly articles, as well as teaching and organising events within and beyond the university. 

My book, States of the Body Produced by Love, published by Ignota Books,  is  a  series  of  responses  to  states  of  being  British-Indian  in  relation  to  the  colonial  and  postcolonial  states  of  Britain  and  India.  The  series  is  structured  according  to  19th  century  lexicographer  Sir  Monier  Monier-Williams’s  entry  for  the  Sanskrit  word  smaradaśā  (which  might  be  translated  as  ‘love-state’),  which  defines  ten  states  proceeding  from  ‘joy  of  the  eyes’  to  ‘death’. I think about gender, race, class, and caste in terms of ritual, inheritance, distance, and translation.  

With Sandeep Parmar and Bhanu Kapil, I co-authored the creative-critical pamphlet Threads (published by clinic press; all profits are donated to Manuel Bravo Project in Leeds, a charity providing legal assistance to asylum seekers). In this pamphlet, I present my theorisation of Tantric poetics, in which I weave  together  ideas,  people,  categories  and  contexts  of  poetry, especially  categories  that centre  poets  of  colour  and  contexts  that decentre  white  and  Western  histories  and  philosophical traditions. I began this project during my PhD and am currently expanding my theorisation of Tantric poetics to form a ‘rackety bridge’ with Black Study, as theorised by Fred Moten. 

My recent scholarly articles focus on  poetry  by  writers  of  colour in the UK and Black British writers,  critical race  theory,  and  racialized  histories  of  literary  production  and  criticism,  especially  within  British  contexts. Related  to  this,  I  am  a  member  of  the  ‘Race  &  Poetry  &  Poetics  in  the  UK’  research  group ( Together, we  have  organised  a  poetry  reading,  a  symposium,  a  public  event  at  the  National  Poetry  Library, and a  conference  on  ‘Legacies  of  Colonialism’  at  the  University of Cambridge. 

I am a member of Generative Constraints (, with whom I collaborate creatively, critically, and on event organisation. Our current project, Break Up Variations, which we have performed in London and in Belgrade, considers the generative possibilities of the break up as a form of relation, perhaps as constitutive of the relationship itself. The annotated score was published in Performance Philosophy and you can read it here. 



States of the Body Produced by Love (Ignota Books, 2019)

“English is the language Ramayya lives and works in. By using it to write anti-imperial poetry, she has turned it against itself. To paraphrase Adrienne Rich, Ramayya cannot refuse English, the language forced upon her family by invasion and migration, but she can re-fuse it. This aspect of her work is thrilling. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end to read a poet engaging so directly with how her language came to be hers. The rest of the collection can feel like pushing through a thicket of brambles – but what wonder can be found in the heart of it!” Stephanie Sy-Quia (


Threads (clinic, 2018)

“Who occupies the “I” in poetry? When poets write, are they personally embodying their speakers or are they intended to be emblematic of something larger and more complex? Is the “I” assumed to be immutable or is it more porous? These are the questions posited in Threads, which illuminates the function of the lyric “I” in relation to whiteness, maleness and Britishness. Its short but acute essays interrogate whiteness’s hegemony in literature and language, revealing how writers from outside the dominant paradigm are often made to reckon with the positions and perspectives they write from.” Anthony Anaxagorou (


Some Recent Poems, Essays, and Videos



I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.

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