Ezekiel was born on 24 December 1924 in Mumbai (Bombay) and his father was a botany professor and his mother, principal of her own school. He belonged to Mumbai's Jewish community known as 'Bene Israel' . In 1947, Ezekiel did his Masters in Literature from Wilson College, University of Mumbai. In 1947-48, he taught English literature at Juter College, Mumbai and published literary articles. After dabbling in radical politics for a while, he sailed to London in November 1948. He studied philosophy at Birkbeck College. After a three and half years stay, Ezekiel worked his way home as a deck-scrubber aboard a cargo ship carrying arms to Indochina
He married Daisy Jacobin 1952. In the same year, Fortune press (London) published his first collection of poetry, A Time to Change. He joined The Illustrated Weekly of India as an assistant editor in 1953 and stayed there for two years. Soon after his return from London, he published his second book of verse Sixty Poems. For the next 10 years, he also worked as a broadcaster on arts and literature for All India Radio.
He published his book The Unfinished Man in 1960. After working as an advertising copywriter and general manager of a picture frame company (1954-59), he co-founded the literary monthly Imprint, in 1961. He became art critic of The Times of India (1964-66) and edited Poetry India (1966-67). From 1961 to 1972, he headed the English department of Mithibai College, Mumbai. The Exact Name, his fifth book of poetry was published in 1965. During this period he had short tenures as visiting professor at University of Leeds (1964) and University of Chicago (1967). In 1967 while in America, he experimented with hallucinogenic drugs, probably as a means to expand his writing skills. He finally stopped using them in 1972. In 1969, Writers Workshop, Calcutta published his The Three Plays. A year later, he presented an art series of ten programs for Mumbai television.
On the invitation of the US government, he went on a moand a act of bhagat singhth long tour to the US in November, 1974. In 1976, he translated poetry from Marathi, and co-edited a fiction and poetry anthology. His poem The Night Of The Scorpion is used as study material in Indian and British schools. He wrote a poem based on instruction boards in his favorite Irani café.
Nissim Ezekiel was the only poet of The Indian Poetry in English circuit who wholeheartedly supported the poets of the Hungryalist movement in Bengali literature when they were harassed by the Establishment.
mader chod bhan ka loda