Adrian Grima in collaboration with his talented and unusually resourceful translator, Albert Gatt – has produced a rich and memorable compilation of poems. Their geographical and emotional stew is international in its flavours yet always Maltese in its complex marinations. Grima succeeds in being – and these are potent combinations – both lyrical and true-to-life, both tender and unblinking, both comforting and challenging. His collection is a thought-provoking joy.- Jim Crace
How can the soul survive the world’s brutality. This is the essential, unanswerable question that Adrian Grima asks in and through his poems, beautifully translated from the Maltese by Albert Gatt. Taut with unexpected collusions, the poems walk the tightrope tensions of time and space. Turmoil, both emotional and political, is contained within the ascetic rigour of the lines; the mysteries of the distant are brought closer through eyes and lips, taste and touch. In Grima’s world, a lull can be as keen as a knife, blood can be the ultimate betrayal. An arterial anxiety courses through his work. Between “thistle and sun”, between skin and skin, between “departure and return”, the poet repeatedly alerts us to the heart-breaking fragility of the body, besieged. Coexistent with his bruising awareness of damage is his faith in contact, in simple human pleasures, a conversation, a pot of flowers, a meal. Deeply intelligent and moving, here is a book with “sky in its wings, migration in its heart”. Read it, be shattered, then soar.- Sampurna Chattarji
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,
Through sex-dolls and addictions, for whom poetry can be just another narcotic throbbing in your vein. Khandekar’s man has stretched himself to the limits of the Machiavellian primate, modifying his behaviour and absurdum to fit in with the changing patterns of a world spinning out of control on the wheel of progress. Meet the ghost in the machine Sanjeev Khandekar’s poetry grins impishly, then socks you in the eye. It makes you feel horns on your head and inspect your skin for green stripes. Khandekar breaks conventions of belief, language and genre to offer a world with no certainties, where you are just a gob of self-awareness floating in a matrix of virtual reality, mutating every moment to balance your inner needs with social expectations. You are the Mutatis Mutandis Man the human ‘with necessary changes’ carried out the modified man tossed between inscrutable science and enigmatic religious faith, the creature who gropes for love and creativity that may lure you towards self-destruction. Meet Khandekar’s Monster and see if he seems familiar.
Khandekar’s poetry, like his art, is disturbingly unconventional; and Abhay Sardesai and Nandita Wagle’s excellent translation from Marathi now brings it to the English reader.
-Antara Dev Sen
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.
Menka Shivdasani’s poetry is both original and strikingly unusual, not just her tangential way of putting things across, but also how thought process and imagination run away with the poem, and make it exciting. An experience is translated into another experience and then gets mixed with fancy in a juice blender. Chopping lettuce, she’ll be assailed by visions—burning bride, politician, a ‘wounded Hiroshima’, and finally a finger-chopping Nazi. A poem about separation will end with her handling ‘alien porcelain’ at a tea party. For over three decades the excitement she brings to her fine poetry has never deserted her.
It is our loss that we did not know Ajithan Kurup’s work when he was alive, and we did not celebrate his brave and lonely project: to render the unsayable into language. He cannot be imitated or replaced, only admired.- Jeet Thayil
To enter Ajithan G. Kurup’s poetic world is to risk, in the words of his title poem, dancing “headlong down precipices.” It’s rare to find a contemporary poet who dares near-unattainable heights and fearful depths on dancing words – words that may sometimes seem far-fetched or invented but which, in fact, are inspired variants or archaic forms of those more usually used: “sempstress” instead of “seamstress”, “enow” instead of “enough”, “trode” instead of “trod”.-ADIL JUSSAWALLA