Why Should I Write a Poem Now

The Letters of Srinivas Rayaprol and William Carlos Williams, 1949-1958
Edited by Graziano Krätli



In October 1949 the poet William Carlos Williams received a letter from a young man from India who was studying engineering at Stanford University but wanted to write poetry. Williams was intrigued enough to write back. Their intense epistolary relationship, lasting almost a decade and little known up to now, is chronicled in this edition of their letters.

Rayaprol returned to India and lived a quiet life as a civil engineer. Yet his commitment to poetry, spurred by Dr. Williams’s long-distance mentoring, never faltered, and the three collections he published eventually gained him a lasting position in the canon of postcolonial Anglophone poetry in India. Rich in personal details, feelings, and moods, the Rayaprol-Williams correspondence is particularly significant as it provides valuable information about transnational literary modernism in the context of American cultural influence during the Cold War as well as the role played by US philanthropic organizations and their relationship to overt and covert CIA operations in India.

Contributor Bios
Graziano Krätli is a translator, editor, and author as well as a librarian at Yale University. He is the coeditor with Ghislaine Lydon of The Trans-Saharan Book Trade: Manuscript Culture, Arabic Literacy and Intellectual History in Muslim Africa.