Poem notes

The Courtesan's Reply - Tambulasena

By Shazea Quraishi

The Courtesan’s Reply is a sequence of original poems inspired by M Ghosh’s translation from the Sanskrit of the Caturbhani, four monologue plays written around 300 BC on the life of courtesans in India.

In the original plays, a narrator walks through the courtesans’ quarter, commenting on the women he meets and engaging them in a one-sided conversation. I enjoyed the sensuality, charm and formality of Ghosh’s prose immensely, but more than that, I was captivated by the courtesans glimpsed through the filter of the narrator. My intention was to give them a voice, and although I began by staying loyal to Ghosh’s translation, I found that the courtesans wanted to say ‘no, it was not like that, it was like this.’

The first two poems, ‘Sixty-four Arts’ and ‘The Days of Chandragupta Maurya’ emerged out of research into the period of the Caturbhani.

Contributor and student discounts

If you are a student, or if you contribute to MPT you are eligible for a great discount deal when you subscribe…» Subscribe now

Back to top
Supported by Arts Council England

Copyright © Modern Poetry in Translation and contributors
Website design ashbydesign
Developed by Code Frontiers
Powered by Storemill