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 Copyright©Yogesh Patel & all respective copyright holders of the material published

Publishers for the Diaspora writers and poets Skylark Publications UK A Non-Profit Foundation

 Recipients of our Poet-of-the-Month Honour

Before she stepped into the classroom:

she removed coat, mittens and chunni;

mentally undid her shoes for entry

to a temple of secular mystery.

She also shed her:

language, name, identity;

donned the mask of neat conformity,

prepared for lessons in cultural anonymity. 

©Debjani Chatterjee 

Note Chunni: A long scarf worn with some South Asian clothes

Debjani Chatterjee

A Delhi-born Debjani Chatterjee grew up in India, Japan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Egypt and Morocco, and now lives in Sheffield. She has written and edited over 60 books, including Namaskar: New & Selected Poems and Monkey King's Party.

She is a Patron of Survivors' Poetry and Life Member of the Poetry Society in India and the UK.

A former Royal Literary Fund Fellow, Chair of the National Association of Writers in Education and the Arts Council of England's Translations Panel, she has held writing residencies at Sheffield Children's Hospital and York St John and Leeds Trinity universities.

She has won many major prizes. She received an honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University in 2002 and an MBE in 2008. For more information see

An Asian Child Enters a British Classroom

Poet's comment

My poem is about many schools showing no understanding of the fact that Asian British children are living in two or more cultures. They are immersed in one culture at home, another at school, and perhaps yet another in the playground. - Debjani Chatterjee

Publisher's Comments 

I am proud to have published Debjani Chatterjee's latest poetry collection. It has an impressive range of subjects and styles, and the standard, as always, is high. - Mevlut Ceylan (Poet and Director of Core Publications)

Poet’s Corner

Debjani's new collection of poems is just published by Core Publications at

4 Messiter House,

Barnsbury Estate,

London N1 0JL

Email orders:

The book retails at £8.99, but the publisher offers Word Masala readers the discount price of £6 only, inclusive of p&p (UK only).

Please mention 'Word Masala' when sending your cheque for £6 made out to Mevlut Ceylan.


When you know yourself

You have nothing to lose

So you give light

Borrowed from the Olympic torch

You carried once

The warmth, of course, from the tea

You had with One!

Isolation bothers you

So you have become an anthology

And not forgetting friends

You always put me

between the pages

of your anthologies:

Like a leaf, tree unknown

But a page unforgotten

Yogesh Patel

Editor’s Comment

For many of us in Diaspora, poetry often arises from an alteration or a juxtaposition that we find ourselves in, with our incongruity Foundationing two uncompromising sides of a coin. Only the receiver in this drama gets hurt or becomes a loser. And yet the host never understands the human being at the opposite end. A loss of identity, or alteration, or a compromise that many of us have made still leaves us wondering who we are, perhaps unforgettably scarred. I am always keen on finding a poem that can be simple but haunting and telling, yet touching the core of my pain as a permanent immigrant, neither here nor there, with a sense of belonging to the divide that we are constantly reminded of. If Maya Angelou can sing about the freedom in a ‘Caged Bird’ in a very simplistic tone, capturing the spirit of the point in question, then Debjani also does not disappoint us with this simple and hauntingly disturbing poem, precise in its lesson about losing one’s identity! She proves again Jeremy Paxman’s point, poetry needs to come out of the clutches of the dry academic poets. Bravo to this poem….

Word Masala Award


Debjani Chatterjee, MBE


A Lifetime Achievement of Excellence as a Poet

Patrons: Lord Parekh & Lord Dholakia