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This Be the Pukka Verse

Daljit Nagra, 3 December 2009

... Ah the Raj! Our mother-incarnateVictoria Imperatrix rules the sceptredsphere as she oversees legions of maiden‘fishing fleets’ breaking the wavesfor the love of a ‘heaven-born’ Etonian!Smoke from cheroots, fêtes on lawns,dances by moonlight at Alice in Wonderland –no the viceroy – the viceroy’s ball!Lock, stock and bobbing along onpalanquins to gothic verandahs where dawnHimalayas through Poobong-mist,the 12-bore or swagger stick topi-and-khakibobbery shikar, Tally ho! for the boarsin a dead-leaf hush and by Amritsarwhat a bang!bang! bagging the flamiest tiger!Jackals, panthers, leopards, blackbucksand swanny bustards, pig-sticking, Kipling,Tatler, Tollygunge, High Jinks and howdahsfor mansion-whacking banks, and the bassoprofundo of evensong, frog song, poppy pods,housey-housey and hammocks under the Milky Way …Tromping home trumps – here come the cummerbundsahibs tipsy with stiff upper lipsfor burra pegs of brandy pawnee,pink gin and the Jaldi punkawallaaahhhh!on six-meal days with tiffin and peacocksand humps and tongue and the croquet and poloand yaboos, oh Ootacamund, and the sabre-curved moustachios twirling for octoroonspanting in gunna-green fields and ayahsakimbo and breathless zenanas behindbazaars where the nautch and the sun never setswhen mango’s the bride-bed of lingam-light,in a jolly good land overflowing with silk andspice and all the gems of the earth! Erdarling, it’s not quiiite the koh-i-noorbut would you … (on a train that’s steamingand hooting on time through a tunnel) Ooo darlinga diamond! You make me feel so alive ...

A Ballad for Bopoluchi

Daljit Nagra, 19 May 2011

... Hauling pails from the village well the girls fell a-talking of weddings to come. Said one: My uncle will bring me chum-chums. Said a second: My uncle will bear me gilded satin saris. The third, Bopoluchi, the fairest and fastest of the lot: My uncle, with caskets of jewels and fruits on a luscious white horse will ride us to his palace to win me a suitor! Poor Bopoluchi, the orphan, knew no uncle to manicure her caste in the matter of marriage; instead at the well from where he sold his wares, a robber’s heart roly-poly’d for her wild cat eyes, and hungered for a virginal feast ...

Rocky Woman Show Up!

Daljit Nagra, 27 September 2012

... On the outskirts of Mithila, a fabled city where they would soon rest having completed their sacrificial mission, the Sage took the boys past a neglected ashram. Rama, by the entrance, walked over a raised slab-stone. No sooner had he touched the stone         than dust was enlivened by his foot and before him the dust outlined itself into the image    of an immaculate curvaceous woman ...

Cardigan Arrest

Robert Potts: Poetry in Punglish, 21 June 2007

Look We Have Coming to Dover! 
by Daljit Nagra.
Faber, 55 pp., £8.99, February 2007, 978 0 571 23122 5
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... the ‘literary’ is itself part of the problem. Some twenty years later, the questions persist. Daljit Nagra’s first full-length collection, Look We Have Coming to Dover!, was greeted by an unusual degree of media attention, including a thrilled appraisal by Newsnight Review, a programme which tends to restrict its poetry discussions to the likes of ...

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