These are poems of wonder and precarious elation, about learning to embrace the seemingly disparate landscapes of hermitage and court, the seemingly diverse addresses of mystery and clarity, disruption and stillness – all the roadblocks and rewards on the long dangerous route to recovering what it is to be alive and human. Wandering, digging, falling, coming to terms with unsettlement and uncertainty, finiteness and fallibility, exploring intersections between the sacred and the sensual, searching for ways to step in and out of stories, cycles and frames – these are some of the recurrent themes. These poems explore various ambivalences – around human intimacy with its bottlenecks and surprises, life in a Third World megapolis, myth, the politics of culture and gender, and the persistent trope of the existential journey (which intensifies in the new poems).
Arundhathi Subramaniam’s previous book from Bloodaxe, Where I Live: Selected Poems (2009), drew on her first two books published in India plus a whole new collection. Shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, When God is a Traveller was her fourth collection of poetry, and was the Poetry Book Society Choice for Winter 2014.
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