Naishapur and Babylon

January 1, 2018

‘Over the course of Keki Daruwalla’s long career, some things have stayed the same: a vertical view of history that plunges across centuries and mythologies, an epic canvas rendered in minute detail, and a narrative engine that never stops ticking. What has changed is a tonal quality. Early poems that drip with scorn segue into the lovely late lyrics, with their grudging acceptance of mortality and frailty. This is an essential collection, a summing-up, as well as a fount of instruction and pleasure.’ —Jeet Thayil

‘Daruwalla’s verbs have lost none of their feral quality. His poetic line remains, for the most part, sinewy and energetic. The capacity to combine atmospheric sweep with succinctness, and to turn out the startling turn of phrase with an almost throwaway air are unchanged. Several moments in these poems linger long after one has closed the book: the wind “whetting its razor on eroded slopes”, “leaves like old scrolls wrapped in their crackling selves”, “a firefly pulsing/low on battery”, “the full-throated tremolo [of wolves] ricocheting in the wilds”, “the tangled reed-and-sedge locks of Shiva”, and “elegy moving like a slow Wagnerian movement”, to name just a few […] Vigorous and powerful, the poems of Keki Daruwalla continue to take wing.’—Arundhathi Subramaniam

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