Gopi Kottoor

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Gopikrishnan Kottoor

Gopikrishnan Kottoor is the pen name of Raghav G. Nair[1] (born 1956, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala), an award-winning Indian English poet. He is best known for his internationally acclaimed poem "Father, Wake Us In Passing". He is also the founder editor of the quarterly poetry journal Poetry Chain. Kottoor presently lives in Trivandrum, Kerala India, where he works as a senior banker with Reserve Bank of India.

Early life and education[edit]

Kottoor had his school education in the Loyola English School and Arya Central School, Trivandrum. He took his B.A. in English Literature, and Masters in English from the Institute of English, Trivandrum, where with Dr. Ayyappa Paniker, professor of English, they formed a college poetry club that invited Indian poets in English such as Kamala Das, R Parthasarathy, and Keki Daruwalla to read at the college. Meanwhile, Kottoor won his first poetry prize, a first, in the University college poetry competitions, and published his poems in Thought (Ed Keshav Malik), The Illustrated Weekly of India and in the Bennet and Coleman magazine Youth Times that featured poetry in their middle page, selected by poets as Shiv K. Kumar and Kamala Das. He soon published his poetry in Opinion, Kavya Bharati, Lipi and Chandrabhaga (Ed: Jayanta Mahapatra), Indian Literature, Debonair, Kavi India, The Literary Half Yearly, Femina, Triveni, The Hindu Literary Supplement, and most other Indian magazines publishing poetry in English. Instrumental in his development as a poet was the Tamil novelist and poet T.K. Doraiswamy, better known by his pen name 'Nakulan', who read his poetry notebooks every Sunday and introduced him to the world of English, European, and American poetry.

Kottoor attended the Master of Fine Arts (Poetry) program of the Texas State University, Southwest Texas, US, having won the Philip McCormick scholarship of the University,during the year 2000.

In 2005, Kottoor was Poet-in-Residence in the University of Augsburg, Germany, on a sponsorship by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) in association with Tagore Centre, Berlin, Germany. Kottoor was invited to read from his translation of the 15c Bhakti poet Poonthanam's Gyanappana (The Fountain of God) at the University of Vienna, Austria, in the same year.


As poet[edit]

Gopi Kottoor won both the All-India Special Poetry Prize of the British Council-Poetry Society, India All India Poetry Competitions (AIPC) in 1997 for his poem "These are the things we could talk about" as also the Second Prize for his poem "Digging" in the General Category of the Competition in 1997.[2] Between 1995 and 1998, he won two more major poetry prizes presented by the British Council – Poetry Society (India) sponsored All India Poetry Competitions (AIPC).[3][4]

Writing to him soon after he won his poetry prizes, the leading poet and editor of Chandrabhaga Jayanta Mahapatra, who was also a part of the jury wrote to him saying

"You write exceptionally well.... My admiration grows for you for your poems".

Kottoor's "Father, Wake Us In Passing" (2000), which won for the poet a Residency in the University of Augsburg, Germany, is a touching poem sequence on his father in coma, and dying. The book is also a thanksgiving to his father who first noticed and nurtured his talent for poetry. The German translation of this poem by the German poet Wolfgang Heyder (b. 1956) appeared as a Laufschrift Book edition (Vater, wecke' uns im Vorübergehen)in Fürth, Germany in 2004. This work is considered peerless in its genre[5] in Indian English writing and has received rave reviews in India and abroad ever since it was first published.[6] In the words of the eminent poet-critic Ayyappa Paniker, Kottoor is "a poet who has discovered his own voice distinct from that of his ancestors or his compeers." His poetry, known for its rich visual imagery embalmed with feeling has won him accolades both in his home country and abroad.

Kottoor's poetry has appeared in a wide range of international journals, that include Orbis (UK) , Ariel (University of Calgary), Toronto Review (Canada), Plaza (Japan), Arabesques Review (Africa), Persona (Texas State University Journal), Bluefifth Online (UK), Chiaroscuro Magazine (UK), Levure littéraire (UK), Big bridge (UK) , Nth Position (UK), New English Review (UK) and others. His poems have featured in significant imprints of Contemporary Indian Poetry in English. His recent poems can be read at New English Review (U.K.),[7] and Nthposition online (U.K.).[8] His poems are featured in the poetry anthology, The Dance of the Peacock.[9][10]

As playwright[edit]

Kottoor's play The Nectar of the Gods (2015) is a socio-historical take on the life of the palace soldier Devasahayam (Lazarus), who was executed following his conversion to Christianity, during the reign of King Marthanda Varma (Kerala, 18c). His other plays include The Mask of Death, a radio-play on the dying days of the Romantic poet John Keats in Rome, Fire in the Soul, a play on the life and times of the Nationalist rebel poet of India, Subramania Bharati, and A Woman in Flames.

As novelist[edit]

Kottoor's novels are primarily based on true life incidents. His first novel, A Bridge Over Karma, was translated into Malayalam and serialized in the popular Malayalam journal Kala Kaumudi. His novel Presumed Guilty has parallels with the life of the fashion designer Anand Jon. His third novel Hill House is based on the life and acts of the Hungarian serial killer Bela Kiss.

As transcreator[edit]

Kottoor's transcreations are Gynapana (The Fountain of God) of Puntanam Namboothiri, and Rati Rahasya (Love's Ecstasies) of Kukoka.

As editor[edit]

Kottoor founded and edited Poetry Chain, a quarterly for Indian poetry in English, which ran uninterruptedly for ten years from 1997–2007. Ayyappa Paniker, the English Professor and major Malayalam poet, was its leading patron. Gopi Kottoor also edited Everyman's Guide (1987–1995). He presently edits (Poetry).


  • All India Poetry Competition (First Prize), The Poetry Society India, 2017.[11]
  • All India Special Poetry Prize, Poetry Society, India and The British Council, 1997.
  • All India Poetry Prize (Second Prize), Poetry Society, India and The British Council, 1997.
  • All India Poetry Awards, Commendation prizes, 1995 & 1998.
  • The Bharathi Prize, Chennai (1995)
  • The Kerala University College Prize (1976)
  • The Clover Poetry Prize, Commendation (1973)


  • Philip McCormick Scholarship, Texas State University, Texas, US 2000
  • Michael Madhusudan Dutt Award
  • D.Litt, World Academy of Arts, California, US
  • 21 Top Indian Poets[12]



  • Piccolo
  • Milestones to the Sun
  • Sunbirds in the Rain
  • Nirvana and Other poems
  • Rev: Father Benedict Goes To Heaven and Other poems
  • Father, Wake Us In Passing,(Vater, Wecke Uns Im Vorübergehen – German, Laufschrift 2004)[13]
  • Mother Sonata
  • A Buchenwald Diary (Poems following a visit to Buchenwald Concentration camp, Weimar, Germany)
  • Victoria Terminus, Poems Selected and New[14]
  • Vrindavan – The Coloured Yolk of Love[15]
  • Tell Me Neruda[16]


  • A Bridge Over Karma (Katha Distribution, New Delhi) Karmathinu Mele Oru Palam (Translation, Malayalam, Moosakutty).
  • Presumed Guilty[17]
  • Hill House (A View From West Hill)


  • The Nectar of Gods – King Marthanda Varma and Devasahayam[18]
  • Fire in the Soul – The Life And Times of Subramania Bharati
  • The Mask of Death – The Final Days of John Keats
  • A Women in Flames


  • Jnanappana (Poonthanam) as Fountain of God[19]
  • Rati Rahasya (Kukoka) as Love's Ecstasies


  • The Twelve Petals of Enlightenment (Param Hans)


  • Wander From The Great Wide Wander Galaxy (Fantasy)


  • Poetry Anthology (Editor) "A New Book of Indian Poems in English"(Poetry Chain and Writers Workshop Calcutta)
  • Poetry Chain – A Poetry Quarterly since 1997[20][21]

Kottoor's reviews on Indian English Poetry

Appearances in the following poetry Anthologies

  • Verse, Seattle(USA) : Special edition on Contemporary Indian Poetry in English
  • The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets (2008) ed. by Jeet Thayil and published by Bloodaxe Books Ltd., United Kingdom
  • Give the Sea Change USA (Fulcrum, Ed. Jeet Thayil )
  • The Golden Jubilee Anthology of Indian Poets in English NBT, India (Ed.Eunice De Souza )
  • 99 Poets (Ed. Manu Dash)
  • The Dance of the Peacock: An Anthology of English Poetry from India (2013) ed. by Vivekanand Jha and published by Hidden Brook Press, Canada
  • Travelogue : The Grand Indian Express (2018) ed. by Dr. Ananad Kumar and published by Authorspress, New Delhi

Literature Arts and Culture


  1. ^ "Sahitya Akademi : Who's Who of Indian Writers". Sahitya Akademi. Sahitya Akademi. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  2. ^ "All-India Poetry Competition, 1997". IndiaStar Review of Books, July 2004. Retrieved 25 August 2007.
  3. ^ "All-India Poetry Competition, 1998". IndiaStar Review of Books, July 2004. Retrieved 25 August 2007.
  4. ^ "All-India Poetry Competition, 1995". The Poetry Society India 1995. Retrieved 25 August 2007.
  5. ^ "Review in The Hindu dated 15 July 2001". Chennai, India. 15 July 2001.
  6. ^ "Review – "Father Wake Us in Passing"".
  7. ^ "NewEnglishReview". EnglishReview, Dec 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Nthposition". nthposition, July 2009. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
  9. ^ Grove, Richard. "The Dance of the Peacock:An Anthology of English Poetry from India" (current). Hidden Brook Press, Canada. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  10. ^ Press, Hidden Brook. "Hidden Brook Press". Hidden Brook Press. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ "World Literature Today Oklahoma University USA"., July 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2001.
  14. ^ Srilata, K. (6 May 2010). "In the dying Light". Chennai, India: The Hindu, July 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  15. ^ Varma, Shreekumar (1 July 2012). "Where the mind is without rein". Chennai, India: The Hindu, July 2012.
  16. ^ Mohanty, Sachidananda (2 May 2015). "Meditations on life". Chennai, India: The Hindu, May 2015.
  17. ^ "Behind the scenes". Deccan Herald, July 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  18. ^ "Gopikrishnan Kottoor's Book Released". The Hindu, May 2015.
  19. ^ "Transcreating Poonthanam". Chennai, India: The Hindu, June 2002. 27 August 2002.
  20. ^ "A Platform For Poets". The New Indian Express, June 2013.
  21. ^ "Chain the friends of verses". Chennai, India: The Hindu, July 2013. 2 July 2013.