ABOUT THE POEMS These poems record the transformation of a hill town upon a river in north-east India. Relatively anonymous in the past, “a world unto itself”, the town is now the site of bustling new energies—land acquisition, construction, the damming of the river—and a shift in the moral terrain.
Inventively, the poems speak from a multiplicity of points above, below, and within the scene, memorialising what must pass away for ever, and walking on tiptoe around secrets and compromises furtively reached. Like the river that is seen, in an acute defamiliarisation, to be “stealthily creating ways/ through fish and algae”, the poet’s lyric voice cuts out paths through the tumult, seeking to establish a perspective on a world which is being ripped up “piece by piece”. A physical landscape, a poem like 'The Prayer Flag’s Song' seems to suggest, is intimately connected to a people’s myths; when every grain of its sand is suddenly churned, then it is not just mountains and rivers that fade from view, but gods and spirits.
A Hill Town’s Coming of Age