Introduction to Shanta Acharya

Shanta Acharya has the rare achievement of being published in fields as diverse as poetry, literary criticism, fiction and finance. Educated in India, the UK and the USA, she has lived and worked in all three countries. Widely travelled, Shanta brings a global perspective to her work.

A portrait image of Shanta Acharya

Born in Cuttack in the eastern state of Orissa in India, Shanta was educated at St. Joseph’s Convent School and Ravenshaw College, Cuttack, where she completed her Master of Arts in English. She was awarded the Gold Medal for securing the highest position in Utkal University in MA English. She was also the recipient of the Rai Bahadur Janakinath Bose Prize for the best all-round performance by a student at Ravenshaw College.

In 1979, she won a scholarship to Oxford and was among the first batch of women admitted to Worcester College, where she completed her doctoral thesis and was awarded the DPhil. She was a recipient of the Violet Vaughan Morgan Fellowship at Oxford. Between 1983-5 she was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of English and American Literature and Languages at Harvard University.

In 1985, Shanta moved to London and joined Morgan Stanley Asset Management. She initiated talks between Morgan Stanley and the State Bank of India resulting in the launch of the first country fund for India, long before the Indian stock market was opened up to foreign institutional investors. She was a Portfolio Manager with Swiss Bank Corporation in London, where she built up the Bank’s largest equity portfolio, Asiaportfolio. At Baring Asset management, she was a Senior Portfolio Manager when the firm was the largest foreign institutional investor in South Asia. Subsequently, Shanta worked as a Senior Client Services Manager at Bank of Ireland Asset Management in London. From 2002-2008, Shanta was an Executive Director, Initiative on Foundation and Endowment Asset Management, at London Business School.

With Prof Elroy Dimson, Shanta founded the Foundation and Endowment Asset Management (FEAM) programme, launched in 2006 at London Business School. It was the first professional development programme for managers and investors in the philanthropic sector in the UK and Europe. FEAM ran for three years at London Business School, 2006-08. She developed case studies of the Wellcome Trust, Henry Smith Charity, the Norwegian Petroleum Fund along with a major study of endowment management practices in Oxford and Cambridge, which case studies she taught in the School’s programmes, including the Topics in Asset Management elective for the MBA and Master in Finance students, and the Foundation and Endowment Asset Management programme. Shanta won a major collaborative funding award from the Charities Aid Foundation for her contribution to the field.

Shanta was featured in The CFA Institute Member Magazine for Investment Professionals, in The MOST Issue, November/ December 2005, among the three individuals selected to represent the “Extreme Career Change” category.

An internationally recognized poet, Shanta has published seven collections of poetry. Her poems have been widely anthologized appearing in major publications in the USA, UK and India, including Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond, edited by Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal, and Ravi Shankar (W.W. Norton and Co, USA; 2008), The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets, edited by Jeet Thayil (Bloodaxe Books, UK; 2008), Temba Tupu (Walking Naked) The Africana Woman’s Poetic Self Portrait, edited by Nagueyalti Warren (The Africa World Press/ The Red Sea Press, Trenton, NJ, USA; 2008), Unmapped: The Indian Poetry Issue, edited by Sudeep Sen (The Literary Review, USA; 2009), We Speak in Changing Languages: Indian Women Poets 1990-2007, edited by E V Ramakrishnan and Anju Makhija (Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, India; 2009), The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry edited by Sudeep Sen (HarperCollins, India; 2012), The Book Of Love & Loss: Poems For Today edited by R V Bailey & June Hall (The Belgrave Press, UK: 2014), 100 Great Poems for Children edited by Deepa Agarwal (Red Turtle, Rupa Publications, India; 2015), The Poet’s Quest for God: 21st Century Poems of Faith, Doubt and Wonder edited by Fr Oliver Brennan and Todd Swift (Eyewear Publishing, UK; 2016), New Soundings in Postcolonial Writing: Critical and Creative Contours. Essays in Honour of Bruce King edited by Janet Wilson and Chris Ringrose (Brill/ Rodopi, Leiden/Boston; 2016), A World Assembly of Poets: Contemporary Poems edited by Tijan M Sallah and Nibir Ghosh (Authorspress, India; 2017), Diversifly: Poetry and Art on Britain’s Urban Birds edited by Nadia Kingsley (Fair Acre Press, UK; 2018), For the Silent: An Anthology to aid the work of the League Against Cruel Sports edited by Ronnie Goodyer (League Against Cruel Sports, UK; 2019), Quesadilla and Other Adventures: Food Poems edited by Somrita Urni Ganguly (Hawakal Publishers, India; 2019), Pirene’s Fountain: Culinary Poems Vol. 12, Issue 20 (Glass Lyre Press, USA; 2019), To Gather Your Leaving: Asian Diaspora Poetry from America, Australia, UK & Europe edited by Boey Kim Cheng, Arin Alycia Fong, Justin Chia (Ethos Books, Singapore; 2019), The Lie of the Land: An Anthology of Indian Poetry in English edited by Goutam Karmakar (Sahitya Akademi, India: 2019), Can You Hear The People Sing? Global Responses to the Pandemic edited by Camilla Reeve (Palewell Press, UK; 2020), The Bloomsbury Book of Great Indian Love Poems edited by Abhay K (Bloomsbury Publishing, India; 2020), Locked Down: Poems, diary extracts and art from the 2020 pandemic edited by Susan Jane Sims (Poetry Space Ltd, UK; 2021), Still We Sing: Voices on Violence Against Women edited by Sarita Jenamani (Dhauli Books, India; 2021), The Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English (2020-2021) edited by Sukrita Paul Kumar and Vinita Agrawal (Hawakal Prokashana, India; 2021), Converse: Contemporary English Poetry by Indians edited by Sudeep Sen (Pippa Rann Books & Media, UK; 2022), Voices Now: World Poetry Today edited by Braja K Sorkar and Binay Laha (Tristoop Books, India; 2023), Count Every Breath edited by Vinita Agrawal (Hawakal Publishers, India; 2023).

Founder director of ‘Poetry in the House’, Shanta was responsible for hosting monthly poetry readings at Lauderdale House, Waterlow Park, Highgate Hill, London N6 5HG, from 1996–2015. Shanta also served on the Development Board of the Arvon Foundation. She was among the Founder Members on the Board of Trustees of the Poetry School, and has twice served as a trustee on the board of The Poetry Society. She remains a Life Member of the Poetry Society.

Shanta is regularly invited to give poetry readings and talks and has read at various institutions, festivals and poetry reading venues in the UK, USA and India. Select performances include: Barbican Library (UK), Boston University (US); Canadian High Commission (UK), Cumberland Lodge, Windsor (UK), Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi (India), Goodenough College (UK), Harvard University (USA), Hyderabad Literary Festival (India), India International Centre (Delhi, India), National Portrait Gallery (UK), Oxford University (UK), Ryedale Literary Festival (UK), St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation & Peace (London, UK), Senate Hall, Central College Campus, Bangalore (India), Study Centre for Indian Literature in English & Translation, University of Madurai (India), The Habitat Centre (New Delhi, India), The Nehru Centre (London, UK), Osmania University’s Centre for International Programmes (Hyderabad, India); The Poetry Café (UK), The Sahitya Akademi (New Delhi, India), Theosophy Hall, (Mumbai, India), Torbay Festival of Poetry (UK).

Shanta was recognized for ‘lifetime achievement of excellence as a poet’ by Skylark Publications and the Word Masala Project in 2015. She was appointed the best ‘international’ poet of 2014 by the International Poetry Translation and Research Centre, the Journal of the World Poets Quarterly and the editorial department of the Chinese Poetry International in China. Her poems won prizes by the United Poets Laureate International in 2014. Some of her poems have been translated into Bengali, Chinese, French, German, Hindustani, Odia, Russian and Ukranian.

On 22 June 2016, Shanta received the Word Masala Award for Excellence in Poetry at the House of Lords.

Her first novel, A World Elsewhere, was published to critical acclaim in 2015.

Her hobbies include theatre, cinema, music, art, travelling, cooking, reading, photography, mentoring and volunteering.

Contact: [email protected]