Winner of the inaugural Beverly Manuscript Prize, Sohini Basak’s intricately woven, exquisite debut collection breaks boundaries with form and gently collapses reality, dream and folklore into each other. There is a sense of endlessness in the interactions of poems with each other and with their sources – which range from Bangla children’s classics to contemporary writers and ecological events. This is a collection that doesn’t stand still, despite its elegance and charm, somehow continually recreating its own time and space beyond the page.
Sohini Basak’s poems are a rich and sombre delight, full of the music of unexpected affinities. She shows us how to look again – at creatures great and small, the mesmerism of childhood, the fixity and elusiveness of language. Her extraordinary felicity and tenderness make this book one of the most exciting in recent Indian poetry.
– Anjum Hasan
Reading these poems feels as it feels to watch birds soar, fish swim. They are intuitive yet muscled as they negotiate the back and forth of violence and grace required in this contemporary moment. It’s a cliché to herald the arrival of a new voice. And yet here is Sohini Basak with this book that is fully mature, expansive, formal and yet surprising, everything one wants from lyric.
– Juliana Spahr
This book teems with the furious and thoughtful tenderness of a generation of promising younger poets for whom self-reflexivity and ecological consciousness, small and large, are part of the same shuttlings of thought. Thought weaves a self and the self passes into language where refrains and spaces, hints and insistence, structure the page as much as whatever is told: ant alphabets, saiga antelopes, time and objects. Literary, formal and folkloric inheritance ranges across languages that have been mutually translatable in life but are only now coming together to smash and perhaps not re-create the canon.
Sohini Basak grew up in Barrackpore, India. She studied literature and creative writing at the universities of Delhi, Warwick, and East Anglia, where she was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury Continuation Grant for Poetry. She won first prize at the Unisun TimeOut poetry competition in 2011, second prize at the inaugural RædLeaf India Poetry in 2013, and was shortlisted for the Melita Hume and the Jane Martin poetry prizes in 2014. In 2017, she received a Toto Funds the Arts prize for her poetry. Currently, she works as an editor in Delhi.