Shreela Ray was born in Orissa province in India in 1942. Born into a mixed Hindu and Christian Indian family, she spent her early childhood in England and India and then moved to the United States for college in 1960 and received her MFA in creative writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 1977, she published the poetry collection Night Conversations with None Other (Dust Books). She died in 1994 at the age of fifty-two.
A collection of her work edited by Kazim Ali and Rohan Chhetri, Shreela Ray: On the Life and Work of an American Master, was published in 2021 as part of the Unsung Masters series. Ali writes, “Ray’s work—written in pared-down language, somewhat stark, sometimes tart, always sharp—was noted for its urbane and cosmopolitan phrasing, dark wit, and the multiple lineages from which it drew.” In describing her letters, he writes, “Her powerful commitment to progressive and radical politics, especially in international affairs, her erudition, scholarship, personal generosity, driving ambition, deep self-doubt, and incredible tenderness all shine through.”