Mumbai: Educator, poet, novelist and columnist Eunice de Souza passed away at her residence on Saturday morning, aged 76. She inspired generations of students as an English professor, and later as the head of the English department at St. Xavier’s College, where she was closely involved in the theatre and literature festival, Ithaka. She also taught at the University of Mumbai. “For young poets, particularly women poets, her approach was very liberating,” says city-based poet Ranjit Hoskote.
Her first collection of poetry, Fix , was published in 1979 and her latest collection, Learn from the Almond Leaf was made available in bookstores last year. “She was an eminent figure who dominated the poetry skyline,” says Sahitya Akademi-winning author Jerry Pinto. In addition to poetry, de Souza also wrote two novels, Dangerlok (2001) and Dev and Simran (2003). “In her works, she used colloquial Bandra English and legitimised it, which is admirable,” adds Mr. Hoskote.
An important aspect of de Souza’s life was her keen involvement in editing anthologies like Nine Indian Women Poets , 101 Folktales From India , Women's Voices: Selections from Nineteenth , Early Twentieth Century Indian Writing in English and Early Indian Poetry in English . “She put together some of the most important anthologies to have been published in the last 20 years,” says Mr. Pinto.
“I’m sad at her passing. Some people you hope will outlive you,” Mustansir Dalvi, poet, said.
Her funeral is expected to take place at 3.30 p.m. at St. Anthony Church, Vakola on August 2, a day after what would have been her 77th birthday. She lived alone at her Vakola home.