An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
Smith/Doorstop Books
The Poetry Business
Bank Street Arts
32-40 Bank Street
S1 2DS
ISBN 1 902382 54 4

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This page last updated: 28th June 2008.

Jameen translates into English as soil or earth, DIGGING:

	...I shave hairs to the shape of a passport photo.
	Into the good skin, steeling along
	the top end of the picture, a straight incision
	until blob by seamless blob, over
	the Stanley knife, a rivering of blood.
	Once under the fold, down to the roots,
	nerve-hand holds for slicing 
	level the parallel lines of a photo.
	Leaning deeper so the unconscious
	deep so the gore geometric be heaped up,
	I drop the silvery haft, the leg, 
	lug back the flap.
	I hear a cry from some of myself.
	So this is me. This
	jameen. This meat
	to which I war myself.
chilled me when I first read it in a magazine so it's good to see it again here. Most poems in OH MY RUB! (there's a Punjabi to English guide and Rub means God) were originally published under the pseudonym Khan Singh Kumar: a deliberate fusion to explore generally the British-born, Asian origin experience. Most poems capture that well: LOVE NIGHT FOR BAZ AND BASWANTI has her
	Peeling from her sari. She bleaches under
	the 100w light. She stills the jangle of jewellery.
	She holds. As she was well told. No flicker
	to his fire. Just this time, she'll tilt her head
	across the bolstered vein of the mattress
	along her side. Closes her eyes as a fly
	nibbles on a palm. She has played her part...
while he
	lightens the hold on the Holsten Pils,
	holding on to the last of the warm flat drink
after the wedding celebrations. However, its companion piece, BASWANTI SETTLES WITH BAZ
	... I could make us gora food
	after your den at the English job
	if that's what it takes, as you settee,
	ungreji pouring from the tele...
feels like a filler. It doesn't have the keener observance of PARADE'S END where a gold-coloured car is splashed with acid and father and sons
	...three of us, each carrying a pan of cold water.
	Then we swept away the bonnet-leaves 
	of gold to the brown of our former colour.
Neither does it have the bitter-sweet humour present in, for example, THE FURTHERANCE OF MR BULRAM'S EDUCATION
	... when those Indians are spitting up cul-de-sacs,
	gaudying the ordered High Street with their pink
	trousers, yellow turbans and soot-tapered whiskers,
	unmodulating the idiom of their pandemonium dins...
I suspect the pseudonym seemed like a good idea when starting out but now feels like a straight-jacket and I hope this collection marks the point where Daljit Nagra now moves on and broadens his talent for poetry. The experiences and subjects in OH MY RUB! may well be returned to, but, like the best here, will be poems that demanded to be written. Unstraight-jacketed, Daljit Nagra's poems are well worth watching for and OH MY RUB! is more coherent and rounded than most first pamphlets.

reviewer: Emma Lee.