Das’ poetry more than delivers on the promise made in the penultimate lines of her titular Cyborg Proverbs, offering its reader the gift of penetrating (in)sight through thoughts “as precise as suspicion”. Her syllables breathe aloud, like hushes that unassumingly gasp in the gaps between echoes, in the interstitial moments of alighting bird wings, or roots that braid the air, or the slipperiness of netted fish, and the gush of rain as it nestles its way into the crevices of walls and swells its way through its parasitical, residential act.
Das exquisitely reimagines syntax and her frequently anthropomorphic poems shape-shift upon each ensuing page, making Cyborg Proverbs an enviable feat, aided in no small measure by her studied, patient, bird-watcher gaze and her unspeakable lust for articulating the tacitly sensual.
Flesh Tint Like a painting by Velazquez A woman stands Alone in the frame Touched by the brush of light Blossoming. How did Flesh Tint reflect Naples Yellow In this greenish blue room? What made the sun Suddenly rise on the palette?
‘In this collection, Arjun Rajendran is unapologetically cosmopolitan, yet rooted in the gritty’
Realities of Indian city streets and our ghostly middle-class parlours, Rajendran’s poems excel in the juxtaposition of seemingly disparate elements, geographies, texts and tropes. Yet it is in these juxtapositions that Rajendran finds both the rhythm of a dirge that would mourn our broken contemporaneity, and celebrations of small moments of solidarity and creativity. With this collection, Rajendran provides a definitive push to the very idea of contemporary Indian English poetry.’ -Nandini Dhar, Author of ‘Historians of Redundant Moments’
Arjun Rajendran’s Cosmonaut in Herges Rocket never fails to surprise and provide something new. So many times, these poems stopped me in my tracks, holding my breath. The poems here create a world: we are given Anna Karenina and the stickers on a Rubik’s Cube, Archie Andrews and the death of a hedgehog, a lost (and found) copy of Lolita and the Bible described as ‘the oldest bestseller about hell.’ All of these -and much more – are made new again, brought into connection with each other to form new constellations from the world we thought we recognized’. -Jennifer Finstrom, Poetry Editor, Eclectica Magazine
“Arjun Rajendran’s poetry mixes the scientific, the symbolic, and the speculative. One poem includes the Dyson sphere, another has a superstitious mother who has quit eating mangoes; one poem talks of a friend coming out, another plays on the Hardy-Ramanujan number. But the unique guile of this poet comes through when all of this happens together. Such that a poem of nostalgia mutates into one about global warming; such that a poem arrives at a longing for comics through the wild route of space travel. One reads Rajendran’s poems with the warm knowledge that he is a poet who can do anything. He is my favourite contemporary poet, and definitely one of India’s finest.’ – Tanuj Solanki, Author of ‘Neon Noon’
Hardback awakening The air is thick, and has revived my books, anticipating the first spell of a Bombay monsoon. Ambient moisture has slaked pages that shuffle and twist, arise to a wakefulness, unleaving. Feeling the discomfort of nearness,
Ashwani Kumar’s poems in ‘Banaras and The Other” are a mischievous irreverence turned at times to the present and at times to the past. The personal and the political, memories and nostalgia, mythical characters and contemporary parodies mix and mingle in these poems in diverse proportions to produce a rare poetic energy that belongs entirely to our times of pain and paradox. –K. Satchidanandan
Ashwani Kumar’s Banaras and the Other captivates us as a delightful romp through myth, folklore and history. Read past the revelry, however, and you will see that it engages passionately and provocatively with the fissured, schismatic scenarios of 21st century India.–Ranjit Hoskote