by The Quarantine Train

Thanks to generous donors, we have instituted a prize to honour the memory of Poet Deepankar Khiwani, who passed away in March 2020. Deepankar was a poet who was deeply committed to promoting literary activities in India.

First Prize

INR 15000

Second Prize

INR 10000

Third Prize

INR 5000


Born in New Delhi in 1971, Deepankar Khiwani lived in Paris for a long time before returning to India. He read Economics at Bombay University and earned postgraduate degrees in accounting and business management. He worked for a consulting and technology company.

Khiwani’s debut collection of poems, Entr’acte, was published in 2006 by Harbour Line. A master of formal, metred verses, Khiwani explored themes of detachment, masquerade, and ambivalence in these poems. His poems were included in many anthologies including 60 Indian Poets (Penguin, ed. Jeet Thayil), The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets (Bloodaxe, ed. Jeet Thayil), Both Sides of the Sky (National Book Trust, ed. Eunice de Souza), 50 Poets, 50 Poems (Open Spaces, ed. Priya Sarukkai Chabria), and The HarperCollins Book of English Poems by Indians (Harper Collins, ed. Sudeep Sen). International publications including London Magazine and Fulcrum have featured his work.

He passed away in March 2020.



so I
my darknesses across this space
and wait:

come, you must stick to the lines.
I need you.


 – for my Mother, who taught me the poem by Browning, but was terrified I’d learn too much.

What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No…it is the desire to fall..

Milan Kundera, An Unbearable Lightness of Being

It’s important to steady this melon first,
For this rutted sphere has by nature
No point of balance.

It’s useful also to be clear about what one wants :
The whole or just the half ?
Mince its pulp – or
Cut it into juicy slices ?

What will one do if one sees the flesh rotting inside –
Excise the rot surgically, or throw all away?
For all is God’s award.
Sometimes of course, one needs to throw away the good..

The knife must be sharp and pointed,
The right hand must be resolute, swift
And you must grasp the melon
With your left hand steady

And when it’s steady, just cut.
There must then be no going back,
No looking at the blood.

[1] Published in nether quarterly

All winners receive a certificate and a year membership with The Quarantine Train.