In 1998, fresh out of college, I took an unexpected opportunity to live for several years in South India, where I studied Tamil and moved into a village outside the city of Madurai. A friend and I happened to find a wonderful Tamil teacher, Dr. K. V. Ramakoti, and early one evening we sat with him and his wife enjoying a quiet meal in the central room of his house.
All at once Dr. Ramakoti looked up from his rice, peered at us across the plates, and asked, “A year ago, did you think you would be coming to Madurai, to study Tamil, in my house, with me?”
Both of us shook our heads. I’d had no idea I’d ever live in India, let alone study Tamil.
He smiled and chuckled to himself. “This is what we, in our tradition, call fate.” And without another word he went back to his rice.
Those years proved more fateful than I could ever have imagined, not only reawakening my love of language, but leading me to devote my life to the highest possibilities of words and their power to join our hearts across time and place.
All that I do as a writer, translator, teacher, and performer grows out of that pivotal experience of standing between different ways of conceiving and imagining and loving the world.
Here’s a short bio, which you’re welcome to copy and paste if you need it for an event:
Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma is an author, translator, teacher, and performer. His translation of the classical Tamil masterpiece on ethics, power, and love, The Kural: Tiruvalluvar’s Tirukkural, was recently published by Beacon Press. Other books include The Safety of Edges (poems), Give, Eat, and Live: Poems of Avvaiyar (translated from the Tamil) and Body and Earth (with the artist C.F. John). He speaks and performs widely, teaches for the Cozy Grammar series of online video courses, and has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, 4Culture, Artist Trust, and the U. S. Fulbright Program. thomaspruiksma.com
For a taste of my writing and work as a translator, I invite you to explore my books or listen to a poem.
For a sampling of my work as a teacher, speaker, performer, and musician, I invite you to learn where I’m coming from, to read or listen to an interview, and to watch a recent talk or presentation.
And if you’re looking for a longer bio or headshot, you’ll find what you need in my media kit.