an on-line poetry magazine
for the 21st century

WINTER 2021-22

 

BOOK REVIEWS

THE TIGER POET, New and Selected Poems
Amit Dahiyabadshah

(Poetry Playhouse Press 2021)
Review by G.E. Schwartz

Indian Anglophone poet Amit Dahiyabadshah’s book “The Tiger Poet, New and Selected Poems,” is brimming with poems that simultaneously move in several directions. Dahiyabashah’s works are intellectually rigorous, technically vigilant, texturally sophisticated and committed to exploring identity, landscape, our struggles against terror, the pandemic, and our paths towards  some sense of benediction.

“I have come from farming to poetry.” writes Dahiyabadshah who grew up in the rural north India state of Haryana and who now lives in New Delhi. In “Transition,” he writes of leaving the village of farmer soldiers to become an urban poet: “Farewell fields of diamond dew/ and saffron morning light/ and deep we earth that sucks and holds/ as frozen birds take flight.” And in many of the following poems he establishes himself at home in the world in which the boundaries between the local and the regional and the global increasingly blur, while he still wrestles with the moral, political and spiritual dilemmas produced by such blurrings.

Surely, his poetry is able to be situated without being rooted, able to travel without being lost, as he writes in what is perhaps his signature poem, “The Last Will and Testament of the Tiger,” a poem at once both about the extinction of a species and extinction of the spirit and its potential for transmigration: “Send my bones to China that they can find a cure for the fear/ that builds such great walls/ Send my fat to Singapore so they can make a balm that is mine/ not merely in name/ Send my shit to alchemists for that is the only substance/ they have not yet tried in their efforts to incent gold…”

Cycling through this collection, you’ll continually find writing that reveals a consistent and exceptional brilliance in its treatment of image, as here: “Today your eyebrows are gathering darkly upon your face/ like monsoon clouds in harvest time…”

With finely-wrought metaphors, often as luminous and sensuous as fresh fruit, and combining an artisanal virtuosity with passion– always passion– Dahiyabadshah turns each poem into a many-angled, multifaceted experience, shadowy with contour and resonance.

All of the poems in The Tiger Poet deliver solid hallmarks of Dahiyabasdshah’s aesthetic: a striking visuality, an abiding historical interrogation, and a constant undertow of the need to communicate so much of the universal, the very grace of existence, the ambience of the cosmic. Read this book. Take this pilgrimage. And be grateful to Poetry Playhouse Publications for bringing it to a worldwide audience.