November 5, 2021

Sophia Naz

ONE THING HAPPENS

One thing happens, then another 
dust accumulates in a corner 
addendum, footnote, detritus, junk
mail from fluffy pillow makers

All the virus in the world 
weighs about a gram
This and that is overdue
An extinct season Akhtari sings of

A leaf falls in the sky’s milky tea            a scarred
porcelain saucer moon
laps it, cracks up, and disappears

from Rattle #73, Fall 2021
Tribute to Indian Poets

__________

Sophia Naz: “Poetry, particularly the ghazal, is ubiquitous in daily life, particularly in North India. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in our family courtyard in Bhopal and playing baitbazi, a game which required a vast amount of poetry to be committed to memory. There is a great deal of elision involved in the lexicon of the ghazal which is missing from English poetry. Most of the poetry introduced in school tilted heavily towards British poets, expressing a culture and landscape completely alien to the subcontinent. I am keenly aware that I am writing in a language that is the legacy of Empire and have tried to ‘recolonize’ English by excavating its proto-Indo-European roots to add ‘radical neologisms’ (here the word radical is also a nod to its original etymology, meaning root); my poems often employ bilingual homonyms to create a hidden text intelligible only to speakers of Hindustani. As India slides towards fascism with the continual erosion of democratic freedoms, I feel an urgent need to write about the cataclysmic Partition of 1947, an event whose reverberations continue to profoundly affect the daily lives of two billion people. History is being furiously rewritten and contested on both sides of the India–Pakistan divide. My generation, though born after Partition, received memories of an undivided India and a shared Hindu–Muslim culture from our parents. My poetry is an evocation of this inheritance of loss. I tread the tightrope of the hyphenated first-generation immigrant experience holding onto the long pole of remembrance and consecration.” (web)

Rattle Logo