Sampurna Chattarji

Sampurna Chatterji delivers her poem "Easy." Born in Africa, she is award-winning poet and short-story writer. Her work has appeared in Poetry India: Millennium Voices and 100 Poets Against the War, among others. She lives in Mumbai (Bombay), India.

Born in Africa, Chattarji started her writing career as a copywriter with J. Walter Thompson, India. An award-winning poet and short-story writer, her work has appeared in Poetry India: Millennium Voices and 100 Poets Against the War, among others. Some of her other occupations have been as creative director of a Singapore-based website, and writer of her own brand of nonsense for a forthcoming anthology on Indian Nonsense to be published by Penguin India. Her translation of Sukumar Ray’s poetry and prose titled Abol Tabol: The Nonsense World of Sukumar Ray* was published by Penguin under the Puffin imprint in February 2004. Forthcoming titles include a book of stories being published by Puffin. She is currently working on her first novel.

Sampurna is married, lives in Mumbai, and is known, mysteriously, to answer to the name of Shampoo.

*India’s greatest exponent of literary nonsense and father to celebrated filmmaker Satyajit Ray




The sugar on the tongue
the poison in the eye
shedding sweetly the venomous tears.

The prayer on the lip
the gun on the hip
marking zealously the blood-fresh map.

The bread trucks in front
the battle tanks behind
rolling deftly the bitter pummelled land.

The dove on the sleeve
the hawk in the heart
calling clearly the faithful to arms.

The flag on the mast
the shovel in the dust
digging deeply the glorious stolen gold.

The stride in the foot
the fist on the jaw
breaking swiftly the face of the earth.




Death is easy to pronounce.
He deserved to die.
They ought to be shot.
Hanging’s too good for him.
The words fall glib.
Throwaway lines
sentencing them to death.

Distant observer,
you speak without guilt, or fear
of misplaced allegiances.
You just need something to say,
that’s all.

The right sentiment, rightly declared
whichever way your loyalties blow
in the gust of the smokefilled air.

A country burns.
The death-dealers deserved to die, you say.

Death is easy to pronounce.
It’s the smell of burning children that’s hard.