Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Friday 8 October 2010

"Look We Have Coming to Dover!" by Daljit Nagra (Faber, 2007)

2 line stanzas3
3 line stanzas3
4 line stanzas2
5 line stanzas1
7 line stanzas2
8 line stanzas1
9 line stanzas1
12 line stanzas1
13 line stanzas1
Misc stanzas16
There's a centred (shaped?) poem and several poems whose form I'll classify as "Misc" though they're nearly regular. "Consummation" has a 2nd stanza that's indented. The last word or 2 of each line of "University" is vertically indented. "Darling & Me!" and "A Prelude to Suka's Adventures from the Board Room" have alternate lines indented. "Kabba Questions ..." has the 3rd line of each stanza indented and the fourth line doubly indented. "Sajid Naqvi" sounds like prose to me. I think I must be missing the point of "The Tree". "Arranged Marriage" has a final section which can be read left-to-right or column-wise I think, the first column end-rhymed
Numb, I sat           necklaced in flowers
a costumed prat       from another world
as the cash bedded    between my lap
I deadened my head    inside the turban
The title poem starts in a lively way (note the pun on "prow'd") and keeps going
Stowed in the sea to invade
the alfresco lash of a diesel-breeze
racheting speed into the tide, brunt with
gobfuls of surf phlegmed by cushy come-and-go
tourists prow'd on the cruisers, lording the ministered waves.
"Digging" should be read against Heaney I suppose, though here the poem's more about nationality than family inheritance. Muldoon, and Clarke (Gillian?) also get mentions.

The relationship between the poet, the persona and the punjabi-english language changes from poem to poem. It can provide opportunities for easy laughs - in "The Speaking of Bagwinder Singh Sagoo!" there's "cardigan arrest", "she was in the Dulux of British poodle pink", etc. Elsewhere the comedy's more incidental: "Darling & Me!" begins

Di barman's bell done dinging
     so I phone di dimply-mississ,
Putting some gas oncookah,
     bonus pay I bringin!
"Kabba Questions the Ontology of Representation...." dries the comedy out. It begins
Vy giv my boy
dis freebie of a silky blue
       GCSE antology with its three poets
           from three parts of Briten - yor HBC

of Eaney, Blake,
Clarke, showing us how
       to tink and feel?

The language has lost its "franglais" feel and shows itself as a flexible device, capable of displaying absorption, rebellion by mocking, etc. Language separates generations as well as cultures.

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