Daljit Nagra - Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!! (4 stars)

Second collection is something very exciting indeed

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Daljit Nagra - Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!!

(Faber)

Daljit Nagra’s second collection, with its lavish title, shouty cover art, abundant exclamation marks, italics and CAPS, marks another fine display of showmanship. Nagra swaggers through the ‘gyres and galaxies’ of the English tradition doing things his way: Shakespearian sonnets jostle with monsoon songs; Kipling’s legendary Lispeth has her say, and ‘Raju t’Wonder Dog’ (‘ … secretly/ t’incarnation of some ‘indu God’) comes from ‘uddersfield’ with a strong northern dialect.

Nagra wields the linguistic dexterity that bagged his Look We Have Coming to Dover! much praise as well as the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2007: there’s his Punjabi-meets-English ‘Punglish’ (‘vy all ju eat so much Oxo-/ Paxo, tanning for Bingo, Disco?’); wordplay that crackles with static: ‘he cheeky/ chit-me-chat’; while contemplative poems such as ‘Ken’ (‘’My kin believe the old/ must spin out bygone yarns/ to keep in the light’) make the louder poems the more joyfully frenetic. With balls, bollyverse and bhajis, energetic irreverence and satire, Nagra’s second outing is something very exciting indeed.

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