Posted by Expert Gadget Reviewer on Friday, 23 November 2007

The critical perspective of Daljit Nagra for The British Council’s Contemporary Writers site is coming along nicely – not least because as well as rereading Look We Have Coming to Dover! (why wasn’t this collection shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize?) and Oh My Rub!, plus all the articles and reviews of that collection and pamphlet I could find, I’ve also been sent a wonderful publication from Five Leaves Press: By Heart – Uit Het Hoofd. This little book, as the blurb states, ‘is a bilingual collection of poetry by significant poets from Britain and the Netherlands’, and also notes, quite rightly, that ‘sometimes it is not just language but also culture which must be translated’ – something Nagra attempts to do in his colourful illustrations of the lives of British-born Asians.

A few of Nagra’s poems appear in By Heart, then, alongside work by Sarah Corbett and Antony Dunn (all in original English and translated into Dutch) but what’s most interesting is Nagra’s beautiful translations of Dutch poet Jan-Willem Anker’s work. Anker’s poems flicker on the borderline between poetry and prose, and to demostrate some of their potency and intricate detail, here’s the first verse from Nagra’s translation of Anker’s ‘The Flight’:

Rather than splashing in the rain, they harbour their stench
and clone circles on their balconies to clock the
colours of the sky or stroke the flowers into blossom,
with a new watering can…

You can order By Heart – Uit Het Hoofd, published by Five Leaves Press, from Inpress Books secure website, here, for £5.