Mani Rao

Mani Rao is a poet, translator and scholar. She has nine books of poetry including New & Selected Poems (Poetrywala), Echolocation (Math Paper Press) and Ghostmasters (Chameleon Press), and two books in translation from Sanskrit including Bhagavad Gita as a poem (Autumn Hill Books and Fingerprint), and Kalidasa for the 21st Century Reader (Aleph Books). Her latest book Living Mantra— Mantra, Deity and Visionary Experience Today (Palgrave Macmillan 2019) is an anthropology of mantra-experience among tantric practitioners in south India.


Mani’s poems and essays are in journals including Cordite, Mascara, Poetry Magazine, Wasafiri, Meanjin, Washington Square, Fulcrum, West Coast Line, Interim, and Indian Literature, and in anthologies including  W.W.Norton’s Language for a New Century, Penguin’s 60 Indian Poets, and the Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets. She has held writing residencies at Omi Ledig House (2018), IWP Iowa (2005 and 2009) and was the 2006 University of Iowa International Programs writer-in-residence. Mani worked in advertising and television media for two decades before turning to literary and scholarly interests full-time. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from UNLV, and a PhD in Religious Studies from Duke University. Mani has lived in India, Hong Kong, New Zealand and USA; nowadays she is mostly in India.

At the festival

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