A daughter, writer, activist and actor releases her late mother’s poetry for the first time in English, lovingly translated by her

Our Bureau
New York, NY

The Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) in partnership with Archipelago Books will host an early preview of Acrobat Poems by Nabaneeta Dev Sen (Penguin Random House, 2021) – a luminous compilation of the late author’s poems, translated from Bengali to English by her accomplished daughter, Nandana Dev Sen. 

This exclusive event will feature an intimate conversation between Nobel laureate, Dr. Abhijit Banerjee, and the multi-talented writer, activist and actor, Nandana Dev Sen. In addition to unveiling these exquisite poems, now available in English for the very first time, Nandana will read a daughter’s letter to her beloved mother, a moving tribute to all mothers on Mother’s Day. And she will offer her own perspective on translating between cultures, and the importance of preserving literary work by women transcending ethnicity and generations. There will also be a Q&A portion during the live broadcast.

Suman Gollamudi, IAAC Executive Director, said, “As part of its increased support for female voices, IAAC is pleased to host this showstopper global book launch on Mother’s Day. It also represents a return engagement for Nandana Dev Sen who IAAC has featured previously as part of its Film Festival.”

Nili Lakhani, Literary Festival Curator stated, “IAAC commitment to poetry could not have found a better talent than Nabaneeta Dev Sen whose works are in the league of Emily Dickinson.”

Nabaneeta Dev Sen (1938-2019) remains one of the most beloved and versatile Bengali writers of all time. Equally expressive in poetry and prose, fiction and nonfiction, she has over one hundred books to her credit, including compilations of poems, novels, plays, stories, memoirs, academic essays, children’s literature, political columns, literary translations, and multiple volumes of her collected works. Her many honors include the Padma Shri, Bangla Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, Sahitya Akademi Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award of the Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Guild. Dev Sen lived a parallel life as a distinguished international scholar and feminist and was the Founder and President of the West Bengal Women Writers’ Association, Soi.

This radiant collection of poetry explores themes of womanhood, intimacy, and the body politic that together evokes the arc of an ordinary life. Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s rhythmic lines explore the joys and agonies of first love, childbirth, and decay with a restless, tactile imagination, both picking apart and celebrating the rituals that make us human. When she warns, “know that blood can be easily drawn by lips,” her words tune to the fierce and biting depths of language, to the “treachery that lingers on tongue tips.” At once compassionate and unsparing, conversational and symphonic, these poems tell of a rope shivering beneath an acrobat’s nimble feet or of a twisted, blood-soaked umbilical cord – they pluck the invisible threads that bind us together.

The event can be watched LIVE on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. ET at and on

Dr. Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee is the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2003 he co-founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) with Esther Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan, and he remains one of the Lab’s Directors. Banerjee is a past president of the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development, a Research Associate of the NBER, a CEPR research fellow, International Research Fellow of the Kiel Institute, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and a winner of the Infosys Prize.

Nandana Dev Sen is a writer, actor, and child-rights activist. She has written six children’s books (translated into more than 15 languages globally) and starred in 20 feature films (from four continents, in numerous languages). She has represented UNICEF, RAHI and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to fight against child abuse, and to end human trafficking. Winner of the Last Girl Champion Award (and multiple Best Actress Awards), Nandana is Child Protection Ambassador for Save the Children India.

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