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.
- Creative Writing 1
- Creative Writing (Poetry) 2
- Poetry at Work
- Creative Writing (Advanced Poetry) 3: The Poetics of Translation
- 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 (www.rapapuk.com). 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 (www.generativeconstraints.xyz), 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.
“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 (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jan/20/states-of-the-body-produced-by-love-by-nisha-ramayya-review-a-difficult-beginning)
“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 (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/14/top-10-books-about-creative-writing)
Some Recent Poems, Essays, and Videos
- ‘Feather the Balance’, with Renee Gladman (JUF, 2021) https://jufjuf.org/en/post/nisharamayya-reneegladman-featherthebalance
- ‘A Poem’s Shadow / Baskets in the Mirror Universe’ (Spam Zine, 2021) https://www.spamzine.co.uk/post/feature-a-poem-s-shadow---baskets-in-the-mirror-universe (image attached)
- ‘Poetry in Expanded Translation: Audre Lorde, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Harryette Mullen, Don Mee Choi’, English: Journal of the English Association (2021) https://academic.oup.com/english/article-abstract/69/267/310/6190415
- Conversation with Jennifer Hodgson for Hull Literature Festival (2021) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLkawc65Mg8
- Video-Poem for Murmur Reading Series (2020) https://vimeo.com/478497873
- ‘Memo on Multiplicity: Rethinking Community in the Wake of the Pandemic’ (Frieze, 2020) https://www.frieze.com/article/rethinking-community-wake-pandemic
- Review of Vahni Capildeo’s Odyssey Calling (Map Magazine, 2020) https://mapmagazine.co.uk/liquiform-murmurs
- ‘Curve, Warp, Corpse: D. S. Marriott, E. A. Markham, John La Rose, Maud Sulter, and Bhanu Kapil’, Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry (2020) https://poetry.openlibhums.org/article/pubid/jbip-11-764/
I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.