The bard of Dollis Hill

From The Guardian:

Daljit1 Nagra is that rare thing: an unknown poet whose debut collection is being published by Faber, Britain’s leading poetry house. The bright cover of his debut collection, Look We Have Coming to Dover!, matches the ebullience of his word play, which stirs English, Punjabi and Punjabi-accented English into a series of funny and poignant poems that defy easy categorisation. Racism, belonging, alienation and assimilation are ever present themes but Nagra is too witty to file under worthy. And while he cites the influence of Milton, Browning and Blake, there is also a slice of Ray Davies or Jam-era Paul Weller in some of his clever character sketches.

“You either do it quietly and describe the Indian community in half a dozen poems or you think sod it, and go all out. The most Indian way I could think of was to do monologues and voices,” says Nagra in his flat overlooking the park at Dollis Hill. So there is the new husband of Darling & Me! whose “Darling is so pirouettey with us”; the mum of In a White Town, who “No one ever looked without looking again/ at the pink kameez and balloon’d bottoms”; and the effervescence of the careless shopkeeper in Singh Song! above whom “high heel tap di ground/ as my vife on di web is playing wid di mouse”.

Much of it begs to be read aloud and, while slight and sotto voce in person, Nagra is already making a name for himself with accented performances of his work.

More here.

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