Daljit Nagra (3 stars)

Look We Have Coming to Dover! (Faber)


Daljit Nagra’s parents moved from the Punjab to Britain in the 1950s and it’s no real surprise that his poetry should be knitted together from bits of his cultural heritage and present environment. So, in the opener ‘Darling & Me!’ (Nagra likes his exclamation marks!) we have references to Hilda Ogden and Torvill and Dean mixing with the smells of roti bread and sounds of Bollywood classic Pakeezah. And in ‘Bibi & the Street Car Wife!’, mentions of KFC and Datsuns rub shoulders with India’s own celebrity chef Madhur Jaffrey and shokri hairstyles.

The title story won a Forward Prize in 2004 for best single poem though perhaps here it is outshone by the likes of ‘Booking Khan Singh Kumar’ whose rapid rhythms lend itself perfectly to performance and the gently plaintive ‘On the Birth of a Daughter’.

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