The London Magazine has been celebrating the life of our former editor, Alan Ross. An important figure in the literary world, Alan was known for his tireless editorial duties and thoughtful rejection notes.  In this excerpt from his new collection, Fractals, Sudeep Sen remembers Alan and his wife.

Four Watercolours
     for Alan Ross & Jane Rye


The coolie’s red jacket
aapartially hides
his blackened bones,

ones that show their fate
aaunder white wrappings
of dhoti and turban.

He leap-frogs at you
aawith an electric sense
of urgency,

as you stumble out
aawith your own baggage.
Preconceptions rage

rampant here,
aathick and heavy
in the stale humid air.

Slavery and commerce
aajostle for their own
space. There is no room

for small kindnesses.
aaOnly images captured
by sable-hair’s

trained ends, stroked
aaon hand-made paper
and glazed lacquer,

can afford to drown
aatheir sorrows
in water and dye.



In this medieval
aaburial ground, a dynasty
preserves its fading

grace. The grass, smooth
aaas a pashmina shawl,
carpets the brittle soil.

Here, under the watchful
aaeye of the mausoleum —
now lonely with disuse —

young lovers make out
aatheir own space and
sense of new history,

lie in each others arms,
aacalm and agitated,
in the dead still of heat.



On the desert sands,
aaa man and his wife
balanced tentatively

on a riot-torn bicycle,
aachance a ride —
its precariousness

safer than the routine
aagamble of their own
lives. The only solace

resides in the invisible
aafolds of the night-wind,
one that erases the daily

tread, hiding their story.
aaIn the distance, across
tinted glass-mirage,

Udaipur Lake reflects
aaits quiet fate,
as dusk pastel-coats

the fort’s Rajput façade,
aato make some sense
of its own past.



Amid the studio’s
aabook-stacked warmth,
finished images

cry out to escape
aathe posh transparence
of silicate-safe

confines, their own
aacolour-washed truths
defying the framed

uneven matt
aaof varnished wood.

by nature, are born
aato bleed —
to accommodate secrets

incomplete pictures
aaleave untold —
to allow for our own

unstated desires,
aaand the blood’s
inadequate crimson.

* * *

Sudeep Sen (hands) by ARIA SEN (new)Sudeep Sen’s prize-winning books include Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems (HarperCollins), Rain, Aria (A. K. Ramanujan Translation Award), The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (editor), Fractals: New & Selected Poems | Translations 1980-2015 (London Magazine Editions) and EroText (Vintage: Penguin Random House). Blue Nude: New Poems & Ekphrasis (Jorge Zalamea International Poetry Prize) is forthcoming.

Sen’s works have been translated into over 25 languages. His words have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Newsweek, Guardian, Observer, Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Herald, Poetry Review, Literary Review, Harvard Review, Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, Outlook, India Today, and broadcast on bbc, pbs, cnn ibn, ndtv, air & Doordarshan. Sen’s newer work appears in New Writing 15 (Granta), Language for a New Century (Norton), Leela: An Erotic Play of Verse and Art (Collins), Indian Love Poems (Knopf/Random House/Everyman), Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe), and Initiate: Oxford New Writing (Blackwell). He is the editorial director of AARK ARTS and the editor of Atlas.

Sen is the first Asian honoured to speak and read at the Nobel Laureate Week. The Government of India awarded him the senior fellowship for “outstanding persons in the field of culture/literature.”

If you would like to preorder a copy of Fractals, please email

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