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The Ruined Millionaire: New Selected Poems 2002–2022
About the Book
“Mazer, along with his northeastern companions Nikolayev and Kapovich – of the further norths and further easts – make jubilant singing verse as they step through the western wreckage. This must be remembered, say the only poets who’ll matter, so I must write in the ways of memory.” — Glyn Maxwell, from the Preface
“These poems are like trees that contain and protect and conceal themselves from themselves. Each wears a rough coat over the sap, the heart, the rainwater and scars. In so many ways the bark of a tree is a scroll with its messages written out of and into its experience. Mazer’s poems know they are beautiful the way the wooden rills on a tree are elegant, made of history, of romance and pride.” — Fanny Howe
“Ben Mazer is a true inheritor of John Ashbery’s legacy, specifically the Ashbery of Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Like that classic of American poetry, The Ruined Millionaire ironically also suits the contemporary European scene. In translation, Mazer’s new selected poems could just as easily fit on a shelf of the best contemporary Polish or French poetry. Anglophone readers are lucky to have them available to us first.” — John Hennessy
“When Shakespeare meets Ben Mazer at the Mermaid Tavern he will hand Ben this book. ‘Shakespherian’ the Bard will say. ‘And more.’ Another poet at the end of the bar will nod and remark ‘There are No Dry Salvages there.’ Then Will will read ‘Monsieur Barbary Brecht’ to all and they will all be surprised by joy. You will be too when you read these poems: matchless, immortal, and, like all great poetry, unexplainable.” — Joe Green
“‘Start with the rain’: there is a great deal of rain in Ben Mazer’s poetry, often in darkness and whipped by wind. One might speak of a poetic of the torrential, given the irresistible forward sweep of his poems as they move through overlapping territories of memory and history and dream. He advances through the damp corridors of a foundered world, in which the debris (and the vocabulary and the contentions) of centuries has piled up, and the voices of poets and movie actors and a multitude of others re-echo like displaced wraiths. There are constant surprises—cascades of rhyme and apparitions from a history become ghostly, like ‘Caligari, tortured in oblong angles, / beer garden, mental institute, who mangles / memory’—but no matter how allusive or wildly improvisational, no matter how extraordinarily profuse in their range of reference, the lines are never digressive. The past woven into their ‘deep syntax / of auditory visuality’ is a living past: they exist in an urgent present, whether ‘driving thus into the heart of pain’ or momentarily perceiving Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, in the last reel of Top Hat, ‘looming and large as any of the designs of God.’ Whatever elements become part of this poetry are distilled with sustained intensity into one substance, a music appropriate to ‘that hour / when memory settles / on the evening / darkness its liquid / history of masks.'” — Geoffrey O’Brien
“‘In a soup you never know / what you’ll run into next. All the ingredients repeat, / but you encounter some of them for the first time.’ This is the savory gumbo out of which Ben Mazer has made his poems. At times maddeningly elliptical, at times this ‘ellipticality’ is what moves or tickles or interests you most. The editor of Delmore Schwartz, Hart Crane, and John Crowe Ransom (among others) is himself a poet very much worth savoring.” — Lloyd Schwartz, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author of Who’s on First? New and Selected Poems.
“What we can’t think to say, what we don’t know how to say, whether of experience cosmic or minute, he says. The white picket fence that is always intense, the little house between the two big ones, what a movie is. His comparisons are wildly accurate but they aren’t really comparisons at all. They come from similar and related as easily as far away and disparate places or thoughts, which is remarkable for its multidimensionality of seeing. His metaphors are never arbitrary or half convincing, but come from the unconscious. And the sounds fit the sense—there are lines to rival Yeats. And he can sustain a long poem without lagging. Only one who feels every nuance, who suffers intense emotions could write such great poems.” — Ruth Lepson
“The year’s most essential book of poetry.” — Michael Londra in SpoKe
About the BookReading Unmappable Moves, I had the strangest sensation of time expanding and closing in. These are taut, enigmatic poems—lightning flashes with bright, insistent heartbeats.—TISHANI DOSHILethal tales of sex and death that left me pining for more of Sampurna Chattarji’s mysterious lyric inventions.—JEET THAYIL
About the Book
As happens on all trips, in the pages of this book we find unforeseen questions and unexpected landscapes. These verses are transparent because they speak to us not about what is intuited or remembered but what is seen while trying to establish order, specify limits, and vanquish shadows.
Where Is the Mouth of That Word?
About the Book
I breathed. I looked up. I saw her standing in the line of fire, “simply standing/on the last line of
this page”, asking, as she looked me in the eye, “Where are you reading from?”
And that, dear readers, who are about to encounter Maryam’s poems for the first time, is the
You can Google her, you can hear her speak 1 , you can explore her intersecting engagements as an essayist, translator, and academic.
But first, you can find her here, as I did, in a selection of her poems – from early to later, from the spoken word to the “vocal infection of the page”, from rant to reflection, plea to command.
You could, in obeyance, “Turn the page, and leave!”
You could be sentenced
to an expired word:
You could hear the tanin (echo) of Sepehri’s hich (nothingness) reverberating at the same frequency with which you see Dali’s ‘The Echo of the Void’ hovering in your line of vision.
You could, and you will.
For now, all that matters is knowing (asking!) where you read from.
And as for the title we eventually chose – where is the mouth of that word?
Wherever there is one – fearless enough to speak it.
– Sampurna Chattarji
Lighthouse for drowning memories
About the Book
It’s in Delhi, dystopian as ever, that Sujatha Mathai continues to live and write today, and I fear her words—“I cannot save my city / Against the degradation of dust”—will echo long into the future, acquiring new meanings. And yet I’m so happy to read a new book of hers, to see that she’s still writing her poems sharp and clear as glass, full of sympathy for the world and those who suffer. It makes me feel that literature survives and helps us survive, that it carries more continuity than we think.
— Vivek Narayanan
Assistant Professor, Department of English, George Mason University
Only the Forest Knows
About the Book
“Wings sense what they must”. And poets too. In her third poetry collection, Anindita Sengupta receives and transmits the hues of a planet mad with want, fear, breakdown. At the heart of a maelstrom of (in)humanity and conflagration, dispossession and disease, her poems bite and rage and mourn. From forage fish to polar bears, she is enmeshed and implicated. With her, we sense the natural world’s mysteries as apprehensible, but “not teachable”. In these poems, breath is the seam that will rip and tear; pain the only climate we can count on. As we embrace deception and vulnerability, we coil in and out of the quieter spaces we contain and are contained by. Hers is our hunger to understand, even hope, so that we might begin again to believe in “small miracles”, to persist, like the algae, “in a world without light.”
– Sampurna Chattarji
Anindita Sengupta asks: “How to speak of violence without /repeating it. What language? What tone? What / memory?” Throughout this coruscating collection, her fluid and inventive poiesis attempts to answer these questions, weaving contingent and deeply human meanings out of personal and collective trauma. Only the Forest Knows is a profoundly accomplished, intelligent work. Sengupta creates an urgent, sensual language that speaks out of the raw contradictions and anguish of the present. This is a poetry tempered by fire, loss and sorrow that
yet, as Rilke said, “nevertheless still praises”: a hard-won beauty that is its own hope.
About the Book
Vivekanand Selvaraj’s debut book of poems, ‘Cog Verse’ has clever cogs that rotate and fit snugly into the amiable cog machine in succinct poetry. His prose poetry dealing with the internal life of a freshman and the business of medicine as a profession is unflinchingly incisive. Speaking of his ancestors and grandparents on both sides, nowhere does he forget his Tamil ethos and the book comes off as startlingly original.
— Sivakami Velliangiri
Here, in these poems, the object-worlds of a pre-liberalized India rub shoulders with the pandemic present, incongruent, yet strangely essential. Here, failure is rebellion, and rebellion in itself, becomes an illusion. Yet, Selvaraj’s poems document a severe critique of the institutions we hold as pristine – the medical school, the hospital, the deep state. Oftentimes, this critique is that of an insider, who, in spite of the said critique, feels depleted, hopeless, leaving us – the readers – asking for more. And, it is often done through careful manipulation of the white spaces on a page, unconventional line-break and a playful engagement with the very idea of lyric subjectivity.
— Nandini Dhar
Vivekanand is a poet of spaces. He isn’t interested in the broader themes of things that happen every day. But he is still interested in the façade of equanimity, everyday cruelty, and mundanity. These poems are Vivekanand’s way of chronicling stories for posterity, but also because everyone else has simply forgotten to catalogue them. These aren’t poems you’ve read before. Vivekanand isn’t a poet you’ve met before. Unique in his writing and assured in his voice, Vivekanand’s CogVerse is a necessary addition to your poetry collection.
—- Manjiri Indurkar
About the Book
Abhay K. strikes such a cheerful, sensual and sunny note in so many of his individual poems…with a pure, ringing sound and rhythm all of his own.
—Gabriel Rosenstock, Poet, Ireland
Abhay K. is a trusted guide to modern poetry, to the journey in which we are seeking truth, peace and justice…feel the spirit of God coursing through his lines.
—Indran Amirthanayagam, Poet, USA
About the Book
Stray Poems takes you on a poetic ride across the world, to the moon and planets in our Solar System and to the far reaches of the Universe and then back to our glorious Earth! Bon Voyage!
Says Tuka-Selected poems of Tukaram
About the Book
Tukaram was born in 1608 and vanished without a trace in 1650. what little we know of his life is a reconstruction from his own autobiographical poems, the contemporary poetess Bahinabai’s memoirs in verse, and the later biographer of Marathi poet-saints, Mahipati’s account. The rest is all folklore, though it cannot be dismissed on those grounds alone. Modern scholars such as the late V. S. Bendre have made arduous efforts to collate evidence from disparate contemporary sources to establish a well-researched biography of Tukaram. But even this is largely conjectural.
Tukaram is therefore not only the last great Bhakti poet in Marathi but he is also the first truly modern Marathi poet in terms of temper and thematic choice, technique and vision. He is certainly the most vital link between medieval and modern Marathi poetry. Tukaram’s stature in Marathi literature is comparable to that of Shakespeare in English or Goethe in German. He could be called the quintessential Marathi poet reflecting the genius of the language as well as its characteristic literary culture. There is no other Marathi writer who has so deeply and widely influenced Marathi literary culture since. Tukaram’s poetry has shaped the Marathi language, as it is spoken by 70 million people today and not just the literary language. Perhaps one should compare his influence with that of the King James version of the Bible upon speakers of the English language. For Tukaram’s poetry is also used by illiterate millions to voice their prayers or to express their love of God.
About the Book
I was moved by the ways in which, at key moments in the dialogue, rhythms shift, and instead of call-response between the poems, we go into each poet’s memory – a call-response between present and past. As they traversed back and forth between private parallel hum – after all, hum is “we” in Hindi – and direct synapse, I loved how freely they responded to both inner reverie and external stimuli. In some of Ari’s poems it felt like he was revisiting earlier trips to India – so that the duet was not restricted to what has just been received but what has always been residual – suggesting collaboration as a pretext – for return? Ari’s riverine contemplations counterpoint Subhro’s archetypal majhi (the boatman) made unmetaphorical. From Tagore’s golden boat to Subhro’s carbon kayak, what rapids have been crossed?
About The Book
What happens when you pay attention to which foot leads – when you walk? Or when we really attend to the pleasures of eating, or of a changing sky? What if we realised that paradise is found all around us – Shangri La behind bus stops?
Amlanjyoti Goswami’s poetry is full of these Vital Signs, these details of wonder. Stringing words on a high wire, his is a rare ability to pause time, so we can look, really look, and live. Even the act of repairing a shoe can be meditative and philosophical in his hands. And within the glimpses of grand ideas there is a humility, a reminder that life is there to be felt, touched, lived, in the quietest of moments.
The laureate of ‘the idea of forever, inside an instant’, Amlan’s poetry carries within it, that most unfashionable of qualities – a sense of grace – but also the quiet wisdom that a life is a series of sensations that become memories. He shows us how the mythic can be ordinary, and how the ordinary becomes mythic. –Rishi Dastidar
On The High Wire
About The Book
“How timely the invisible rain appears to be / when we have stopped expecting it,” says Siddhartha Menon: words that might equally apply to this substantial and somewhat unexpected collection that establishes him as a major Indian poet. The vocabulary is often unfussy and, despite the book’s title, the form carries no hijinks, but every line, you feel, has been tested, every line holds in the solitary practice of the mind. Here place is not a romance of names but an ethics of speaking and a scrupulous attention to both the immediate and the far away, the ants on a teaspoon or the spacecraft on the edge of Saturn, the sentry who “could be” a poet or the unfortunate politics of the state that holds us and others captive, an anonymous bellboy or the great actor Irrfan Khan who could make himself anonymous. Some of the most dazzling poems in the book are sequences; always, we can be sure that following Menon’s thought through will reward us and leave room for us. It’s like a magic trick with no sleight of hand. The “certitudes” may be “green and gleaming” but the “eyes betray the sting of wisdom”.
– Vivek Narayanan
Encyclopaedia of Forgotten Things
About The BooK
Gökçenur Ç distils poetry from of the quotidian, revealing everyday objects, surroundings, and relationships in a new light, marvelling at the miracle of their poetic potential. This is perhaps because he lives the double life of someone whose “perfect routine of a married middle-aged engineer” couldn’t be further from the literary world he inhabits so fully and effortlessly as a poet, translator, festival organiser and initiator of many exchanges and poetry translation gatherings. All these roles are indispensable, and in his poems, he pays equal homage to the great poets he has translated, the poet friends of his generation some of whom have translated him, the woman he shares his life with — and language itself, often at odds with all the words that populate his universe. This long overdue English edition of his selected poems with a list of translation credits and acknowledgements not only makes his work available to a new readership, but also tells a story of deep affinities, friendships and collaborations that are the lifeblood of his creative practice.
– Alexandra Buchler, Director of LAF Literature Across Frontiers
“What a vigorous, deep thinking, and companionable voice is Gokcenur C.’s. He may be a new poet to us English speakers and readers, but he’s been active and well-respected in European circles, and especially in Turkish contemporary literature, for many years now. Encyclopedia of Forgotten Things offers us a big-hearted gathering of his rich narrative lyrics—poems of family, culture, and cities of “soaked neighborhoods,” poems of brilliant aphorisms (“Stones grow heavier where they stand”) and expansive attentions, poems of sorrow, eroticism, and a bountiful yearning for natural connections: “If could speak urdu / I would teach urdu to the rain….” The clarity of Gokcenur C.’s poetic idiom is especially striking—intimate, friendly, and possessed of an intense depth of passion, personal intelligence, and social engagement. It’s a poetry elixir made of measurement, music, and that intangible ingredient, soulfulness. Add paradox, his primary tool, and you have Gokcenur C.’s deepest delightful secret in Encyclopedia of Forgotten Things. If something is forgotten, how can it be catalogued for our reference, our pleasure? Maybe that’s been poetry’s magic, all along.”
– David Baker, Poet, Editor Kenyon Review
The poetry of Gökçenur Ç is vibrantly alive and teeming with images, full of the details and patterns of everyday life while alert to the larger forces that shape it. It is ‘world’ poetry in that it engages as eloquently with the textures of locality as it does the global communities of writers and translators with which it is in dialogue. A quiet pulse of humour runs though this fine selection in which the universe is animated, made strange, and returned to us full of meaning in ‘the scribble of the space’.
– Zoë Skoulding, Poet, Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing, Bangor University
About the Book
This is a breath-taking experiment involving three poets, four languages, a pandemic and a million miles of migration. You will not find a bleeding heart here nor any cheap sentiment. Here is a watchful eye and a savage tongue. Here is a calligrapher’s pen and a bow to Ezra Pound. Mustansir Dalvi’s poetry has always meant something more to me than the best words in the best order. Here he shows us the order of things in a disordered world and we are humbled by this act of bravery and of empathy.
Jerry Pinto, poet and translator
Asylum, I want a poem and other poems
First published as an e-chapbook by Yavanika Press in that dreadful plague year, 2020, Mustansir Dalvi’s brilliant and memorable WALK is an act of homage to the suffering of those millions of Indians, already living precariously between village and metropolis, who were turned into migrants in their own land – forced to walk thousands of miles home, on what was effectively a death march, by a callous State and a society that improvises rather than systematising effective forms of compassion.
WALK now returns, under the Poetrywala imprint, as a surging polyphony. Dalvi is joined in this splendid quadriga of a book by Hemant Divate and Udayan Thakker, who have translated these poems into Marathi and Gujarati respectively; the author has rendered himself into a vibrant Hindi. This relay of versions is completed by Sudhir Patwardhan’s painterly testimony to the anguish of the Covid refugees caught up in a humanitarian catastrophe. A poet and translator, Dalvi infuses his writing with multilingual resonance and quicksilver diversity, shuttling among idioms and registers, in-group argot and makeshift patois. As befits the gravity and universal urgency of its subject, this book will reach readers in four languages simultaneously, saying to them, to us: Never forget!
Ranjit Hoskote, Poet, art critic and cultural theorist
The Tattooed Teetotaller and other wonders
About the Book
We say mind the book, it’s out of control.
But it’s author says
‘Nonsense verse helps its writers escape their resident demons,
setting them free to deal with the more transient ones of mischief.
At time I’ve tried to use that freedom to highlight contemporary absurdities,
at other times to write about those of a not-too-distant colonial past.
Readers will find that not everything here is nonsense, like the poem below.
But I hope they also find that however disastrous our falls into folly may be,
they can also be luminous’
Rats are strict in their regulations.
Like dictators they regulate
meals and nations
along lines of bite.
About the Book
Yamini Dand Shah, with this new book Abstract Oralism, captures both precisely and remarkably the mysterious and elusive world of the Kachchh of Western Gujarat. Her metaphors and similes transport the reader towards this ancient terrain where Indus Valley peoples once flourished. Conceptually advanced and sophisticated, the poetry of this book causes us to reconsider our place in the world: in the light of the author’s extraordinary perception that translates earthly experience into a uniquely beautiful expression of the human condition.
-KEVIN MCGRATH, Poet Laureate, Harvard University
In the ‘Abstract Oralism’, Yamini reveals the beguiling mythic and mimetic history of the dangerously luminous, sensuous, and ephemeral beauty of the desert of Rann of Kachchh leaving us astonished and redeemed at once. ‘Sifting through soiled pages of an anti-modern, abridged dictionary’ of memories, she weaves embroidered tales of palaeolithic biographies of forgotten people in an experimental genre of speech-therapy with fierce emotional power. By turns poignant, playful and ironic, Yamini’s deceptively layered linguistic dreamscapes break new ground in experiencing hallucinatory minimalism in poetry. A mesmerizing debut!
-ASHWANI KUMAR, Poet, Writer and Public Policy Researcher
ABOUT THE BOOK
Hereafter is astonishing as a first volume, each poem adroitly handled with the freshness of youth and the ability only maturity grants. It could stand out with the best poetry on equal terms . I found each poem tightly structured, with not a word out of place. Only a gifted poet assured of her abilities would attempt to ‘tease the contours of a poetic line… to coax it out of its taut shell.’ Stuck in my memory are the lines from an anti war poem:
where every supper could be the last / where every candle is lit for the dead / where every prayer is a cry of the living / where every string is tuned to a requiem.
-Keki N. Daruwalla
Sophisticated, intelligent poetry for an international readership, marked by a flair for history and genuine compassion for sentient beings. Sabitha is as much at home with the ordinary as she is with
At two at night
a bloated Lord Krishna
floats up, dead
in the Yamuna.
One is not likely to forget such lines in a hurry. What a debut! Where does she go from here? I’m already looking forward to her next book.