Just back from the Writers’ Chain Translation Workshop in idyllic Kovalam (on which some random musings here) followed by readings at Hay-Kerala, all of which had the effect of making me hugely nostalgic for Adishakti. It’s almost exactly a year since the Losers met. To celebrate that event, here is the poem (with apologies for the double-spacings which I know not how to banish) I wrote as my own desi-riff on Raphael Urweider’s ‘Self-experiments’ – the result of a self-experiment of my own – the poem I read at the Manchester event, and wish I had taken with me to Kerala. Cheers, dear dubious saints!


Jan 5th 2011, night


feni you rockrhythm slyheaven acrid frill of foam

around the sea that laps and licks my throat

you narrow boat you slow barge you silting sand

you cashew nut grown in a green shade smooth

as you slide into the centre of my chest you liquid

rope fickle as you burn you small sickle you large

measure of sun you tongue drum you gathering calm

you hint of rut of rot precursor to a sudden drunkenness

you warm my gut i smell of you weak-kneed lockjawed i float


Jan 6th 2011, morning


feni you racing undercurrent in my mind

clear glass malady rockbottom searching

for roots that rise in the air i swear i don’t like you

but i drink you i think you you stink to high heaven

it’s like drinking jackfruit then don’t but i will i do

i do like you feni even when i sometimes hate

the sour edge you bring to my day feni go away


Jan 6th 2011, afternoon


feni first cousin to cazulo second to urak

child of the three-eyed golem totemic

on the hill i could bend my head and pray

to this little clay god which feels like it may

speak put this geni back in the bottle aunty

and thank my stars for the hardboiled eggs

and the dullred light that hides the tremor

in my hand as i raise you to my lips and sing


Sampurna Chattarji

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2 Responses to Nostalgia

  1. arjun says:

    liking! you must now do a set of ‘bewda’ poems. Raphael will be so proud :-D))))

    • Sampurna Chattarji says:

      Arjun, bewda poems is precisely what this is the beginning of! 🙂 I’ve got one on ‘umeshu’ and another on ‘sake’ and now to other more desi delights!

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