ABOUT THE POEMS Ranjit Hoskote is one of contemporary Indian poetry’s most distinctive voices: a writer who brings a fine awareness of verse technique, and tradition, to a wholly original view of the world as it is pieced together and broken down by the perceiving self. These new poems, written at the beginning of his third decade in Indian poetry, show him to be still at the top of his game. Hoskote’s themes are the true consolations and false certitudes of religious belief, running inseparably into one another as fat runs into muscle, and the fragility of human hopes and the luminosity of human dreams even inside history’s darkest spaces: colonialism, repression, violence.
The lines here hum with haunting and beautiful images: the mercurial quartermaster with his red-stained fingers and (later) aviator sunglasses, feeding the gulls; the colours of thought and prayer; the silence that drips from trees; the poisoned beehive of words; the puppet demon “who carries his world/ wherever he goes, dancing foot stumped/on a palace”. The lightness of that dancing foot and the catamaran floating “on the agate water” is in these poems held in tension with the searing light and senseless sound packed away in “steel pomegranates” and duffel bags: we see how beautiful our world is, and what we have to lose in remaking it too strongly in our own image.
Rehearsal for Departure