Nothing like Tishani Doshi’s, I’ll bet. The Babu has several reasons to dislike Ms Doshi, sight unseen: she writes brilliant essays, wonderful poetry, she’s been to Antarctica (gah! the only penguins I ever get to see are the ones that come in paperback binding), and she spent this weekend reading in the Big Tent at Hay-on-Wye, alongside Seamus Heaney and Margaret Atwood. We would work our way up from dislike to active hatred if it weren’t for the small and inconvenient fact that we’re rabid fans of her work.
Tishani wrote about the invitation to Hay in The Hindu:
When I told a fellow-graduate from Johns Hopkins that my first propah poetry reading in the U.K. as a published author was going to be with Seamus Heaney, he giggled himself silly and said, ‘Doshi, you know if they make you read before Seamus, you should say something like, `All you folks in the back might want to stick around for this Heaney guy. I hear he’s rather good’.
An audience of roughly 1,200 people turned out for the poetry readings, so I’m guessing it went off pretty well.
Here’s one of Tishani’s poems:
Turning Into Men Again
This morning men are returning to the world,
waiting on the sides of blackened pavements
for a rickshaw to carry them away
on the sharp pins and soles of their dancing feet.
They must go to the houses of their childhoods
to be soothed. They must wait for the wheels
to appear from the thin arm of road.
They must catch the crack in the sky
where the light shifts from light to dark
to light again, like the body in the first stages of love;
angering, heightening, spreading.
Bent knees, bent breath.
Now they are moving, changing colours.
Women are standing at the thresholds of doors,
holding jars of oil, buckets of hot water and salt,
calamine, crushed mint, and drink.
Some crawl into their mother ’s laps,
collapse against the heavy bosoms of old nannies,
search for the girl who climbed with them
to the tin roof for the first time.
Inside, in the shadows of pillars,
fathers and grandfathers are stepping down
from picture frames with secrets on their lips –
calling the lost in from their voyages.
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