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School of English and Drama

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


Lecturer In Creative Writing | Deputy Schools Liaison and Outreach



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. 



 1. Creative

1.1 Poetry Collections

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

In Me the Juncture (Bristol: Sad Press, 2019) 

Threads, co-authored with Sandeep Parmar and Bhanu Kapil (Clinic Press, 2018)

Correspondences (Norfolk: Oystercatcher Press, 2016)

Notes on Sanskrit (Norfolk: Oystercatcher Press, 2015)

1.2. Poetry in Journals and Magazines

we must be seen by the world / what must be seen’, Granta (16th September 2019) 

Villein Regardant’, close, ed. by Eleanor Jones and Bryony White (4th March 2019) 

‘Three for Alice’, Azimuth, ed. by Patrick Farmer (Oxford: Sonic Art Research Unit, 2019) 

‘Following the Event’ and ‘Futures Flowers’, Chicago Review (Winter 2018-2019)  

‘Two for Alice’, Almost Island, ed. by Sharmistha Mohanty and Vivek Narayanan (Winter 2018) 

Villein in Gross’ and ‘Villein Regardant’, Cambridge Literary Review, ed. by Lydia Wilson, Rosie Šnajdr, Paige Smeaton, and Jocelyn Betts (Michaelmas 2018) 

we are seen by the world / what must be seen’, Orlando, ‘Beyond the Body’, ed. by Philomena Epps (2018) 

‘Indifference to External Objects’, Chicago Review, ‘#MeToo: A Poetry Collective’, ed. by Emily Critchley and Elizabeth-Jane Burnett (2018) 

From States of the Body Produced by Love, ‘Nectar Feed Broadside Series’, ed. by Lee Ann Brown and Ian Heames (Cambridge: Tender Buttons and Face Press, 2018)

‘Death’, States of the Body Produced by Love, Oxford Poetry, ‘Crossings’, ed. by Nancy Campbell, Mary Jean Chan, and Theophilus Kwek (Winter 2017-2018)

From ‘Abandonment of Shame’, States of the Body Produced by Love, Blackbox Manifold, ed. by Alex Houen and Adam Piette (Winter 2017)

‘Infatuation’, States of the Body Produced by Love, The Believer, ed. by Sophie Robinson (November 2017)

From ‘Thirteen Days After Death’, Poetry London, ed. by Sarah Howe (Autumn 2017)

From States of the Body Produced by Love, The White Review (June 2017)

‘Supramaterial Ascension of the Transducing Systems’, Sure Hope, ed. by Joseph Persad (May 2017)

‘Responses to a Question about Citation’, Zarf, ‘The Prose Poetry Issue’, ed. by Calum Gardner (February 2017)

‘Secretions or Obstructions’, Litmus Magazine, ‘The Diagnostics Issue’, ed. by Dorothy Lehane, Elinor Cleghorn, Sarah Crewe, and Theodoros Chiotis (November 2016)

‘Secretions or Obstructions’ was Highly Commended by the Forward Prizes for Poetry and is published in The Forward Book of Poetry 2018 (London 2017).

‘A Story of Mātaṅgī’, Lighthouse: A Journal of New Writing, ‘Poetry into Prose’, ed. by Jeremy Noel-Tod (Spring 2016)

‘Awkward Bumping in the Theory District’, Ambit (Spring 2016)

‘Responses to a Tantric Poetics’, Datableed, ed. by Eleanor Perry and Juha Virtanen (October 2015)

‘Stupid, A Kind of Bracelet’, Jungftak: A Journal for Prose-Poetry, ed. by Eley Williams (April 2015)

‘Une enquête onomatopéique’ and ‘Documents relatifs à l’enquête’, Récupérer, ed. by Vincent Broqua (Paris: Les Petits Matins, 2015)

‘Kamala’, Quaderna: A Multilingual and Transdisciplinary Journal, ed. by Vincent Broqua and Olivier Brossard, Volume 2: Multilingualism (May 2014)

‘Containing Passages From Dictionaries; Along With The Shell Or Husk; Along With The Membrane’, Visual Verse, ed. by Preti Taneja (November 2013)

1.3. Poetry in Anthologies

‘Ritual for Summer’, Ignota Diary 2020 (London: Ignota Books, 2020) 

‘Pensive Reflection’, Set Me On Fire: A Poem for Every Feeling, ed. by Ella Risbridger (London: Doubleday, 2019) 

‘Following the Event’, Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry, ed. by Sarah Shin and Rebecca Tamás (London: Ignota Books, 2017) 

‘Death’, States of the Body Produced by Love, Wretched Strangers, ed. by Ágnes Lehóczky and J. T. Welsch (Norwich: Boiler House Press, 2018)

‘Fainting Away’, States of the Body Produced by Love, Liberating the Canon: An Anthology of Innovative Literature, ed. by Isabel Waidner (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2018)

From ‘Abandonment of Shame’, States of the Body Produced by Love, Free Poetry, ‘Contemporary Scottish Poetry’, ed. by Martin Corless-Smith and Peter Manson (Idaho: Boise State University, May 2017)


2. Critical

2.1. Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

‘Falling, Breaking, Blackness: Fred Moten and a Poetics of Love’ (in preparation)

‘Decolonising Translation: Audre Lorde, Harryette Mullen, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Don Mee Choi, Gloria Anzaldúa, Heriberto Yépez’ (in preparation)

‘“Losing / remains a black verb”: D. S. Marriott, E. A. Markham, Maud Sulter, and John La Rose’, Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, ‘Race’, ed. by Sandeep Parmar (forthcoming)

‘Secreting Blackness in the Poetry of D. S. Marriott’, Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, ‘Secret Poetry’, ed. by Jo Lindsay Walton and Ed Luker (2018)

2.2. Essays

From ‘Crossing the Rackety Bridge between Tantric Poetics and Black Study’, Poetry Wales, ‘Ritual’, ed. by Nia Davies (Summer 2018)

‘Threads’, Poetry London, ed. by Sam Buchan-Watts (Spring 2018)

2.3. Reviews

‘Not a Secret Power’, Poetry London, ed. by Dai George (August 2019) 

‘Why Indigenous Literatures Matter’, Wasafiri: International Contemporary Writing, ‘Queer Worlds/Global Queer’, ed. by Dean Atta and Andrew van der Vlies (Summer 2019) 

Biography and Critical Perspective on Kayo Chingonyi, British Council Literature (2018)

Biography and Critical Perspective on Vahni Capildeo, British Council Literature (2018)

Review of Hannah Black’s Some Context, MAP, ed. by Daisy Lafarge (October 2017)

Review of Eley Williams’ Frit, Zarf, ed. by Calum Gardner (August 2017)

Review of Currently and Emotion: Translations (ed. Sophie Collins), Poetry London, ed. by Sam Buchan-Watts (Autumn 2017)

Review of Jessica Johannesson Gaitan’s Foam, Hix Eros: Poetry Review, ed. by Jo Lindsay Walton and Joe Luna (August 2016)

Review of Kayo Chingonyi’s The Color of James Brown’s Scream, Ambit Magazine (7 March 2016)


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