Then I feel myself pressed on the gnarly woodwork
of the restaurant wall, inching away
from our table where friends decipher

steak with hushed incisions. Third birthday lunch
of the week, the gelatinous air
chastising me, and I cannot understand

the script of hands in perpetual
movement as if to heed some
divine calling, coaxing knives

out of napkins as a mother
rouses her baby. Six people
together is enough cause for mirth.

How can it amount to anything else? Bowls
wait to be used. Lamps angle overhead
like rumours. By candlelight

I am unable to discern the names
of my friends or tell them apart.
In time, applause will weaken

to footsteps, arms pining after jackets with
a lover’s ferocity, our silhouettes untouched
by squeaks and stains, the aftermath.


Dibyajyoti Sarma reviews Ankur Betageri’s  The Bliss and Madness of Being Human

At the first glance, the cover of Ankur Betageri’s collection of poems, with the portrait of a man in a turtleneck and a jacket, and a crow perched on where his head should have been, reminds you of a Milan Kundera novel – somber, philosophical, and abstract. You read the title – The Bliss and Madness of Being Human, and it sort of fits. Don’t be in a haste to judge the book though. It has more to offer than either bliss or madness, or for that matter, the secrets of being human. Here lies the beauty of this brave collection; it defies your expectation at every stage. As you start reading, you come close to catching the pulse of the young, serious poet and when you think you have nailed him, he offers you another poem, and you are caught off guard. You are up for an adventure. As Betageri himself defines poetry: “(it) simplifies/ the humdrum, amplifies/the hum,/ until the hum rearranges your essence.” His poems promise to do simply this.

The Bliss and Madness of Being Human,  Ankur Betageri,  Poetrywala, 2013. Rs 200

The Bliss and Madness of Being Human,
Ankur Betageri,
Poetrywala, 2013. Rs 200

Shi-TaoPEN International is delighted to announce the release of Chinese poet, journalist and PEN member Shi Tao, 15 months before the end of his 10-year sentence

PEN International has said it is delighted to announce the release of Chinese poet, journalist and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) Shi Tao, 15 months before the end of his 10-year sentence.

PEN said it reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of all others currently detained in China for peacefully expressing their views.

Author’s Note: “In Inland Islands, a serialized narrative, Gigi, has had to suffer a life of travel and unpredictability given her lover’s work as an anthropologist. She’s finally found a connection in this new tribal enclave, and through her immersion in it, starts gaining insight into her own self and relationship with Geronimo.Here, each prose poem works with a foreign word or phrase – as a point of inception – then drives itself forward through various acts and/or turns of translation.” –Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Obsessive, tender, outraged, playful—Victoria Chang’s virtuosic third collection The Boss is a mesmerizing exploration of contemporary American culture, power structures, family life, and ethnic and personal identity.

McSweeney’s: How did you first become interested in poetry?

Victoria Chang: I think my elementary school teachers introduced me to poetry and we had little poetry contests where everyone won 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place. I wrote these tiny poems and enjoyed trying to create surprise endings.

FractalsFractals brings together over 300 new and select earlier poems from Sudeep Sen’s internationally acclaimed oeuvre spanning thirty-five years, 1978 to 2013, as well as some of his translations.

The title has been chosen with care. Earlier collections built around themes such as Rain, Ladakh, Blue Nude, Geographies, Postmarked India, when combined with his latest work reveal elements which recur. Equally, the term fractals defined variously in science and mathematics and general terms, highlights Sen’s own interest in art, science and patterns scattered through nature.

T S EliotPoet Daljit Nagra explores the often overlooked Indian element to T.S Eliot’s poetry.

T.S Eliot once wrote that the great philosophers of India “make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys”. And although he’s more often remembered as an establishment figure, somewhat conservative and deeply Christian, Eliot also wrote about and studied Indian philosophy, language and culture. He incorporated it into his most famous poems, and even considered becoming a Buddhist.

Alvin Pang
Alvin Pang

“The latest, second edition of The Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry in English features several entries on Singapore poets,” tweeted Singapore poet and literary guru Alvin Pang today.

Besides Pang, Boey Kim Cheng, Edwin Thumboo, Arthur Yap, Yong Shu Hoong, Toh Hsien Min,  Jee Leong Loh and Cyril Wong have been included in the publication.