Wednesday, 13 November 2019

A poem by Rishi Dastidar

When we read any poem, it's informed by the poet's job (even if that job involves teaching poetry!), but sometimes their working environment is especially relevant. I would argue that this is definitely Rishi Dastidar's case.

One of our featured poets at the Rogue Strands reading on 28th November (see Facebook page here), Dastidar works as a copywriter, which means he firstly has an eye for register and sentence structure, along with a keen awareness of their effect on the reader (both of these qualities are present in his verse). However, I would also argue that his obligatorily corseted use of language in his working life leads him to shake off those shackles when writing poetry, playing with register, rules and norms so as to reinvent the everyday and mundane, so as to challenge our received expectations, as in the poem I'm featuring today...

New planet who dis?

of course poems that start ‘oh this was a dream’ are dull but honestly this was a better than average one in that i dreamt it 38 years ago and i still not only remember it but carry it with me like a good luck charm though once i tell you about it you’ll more likely think of it as an amulet of doom         anyway           i must have just watched 2001 and you know how fucked up that – and so our future – is i digress but i’m pretty sure the film triggered the dream though at this distance who knows or cares right?       anyway           there i am floating about not space walking space drifting space mooching space loitering oh hold on i’ve remembered what might be a contributory factor / input strand to this dream reading a book of disasters – hang on what was a book of disasters doing in a school library i mean was it a conscious attempt at priming us that violence mayhem fate and the unpredictable alliance between all 3 and the resulting random outputs are the only constant in life so get used to it kids –    anyway           in this book was an account of how on their return from space some cosmonauts were incinerated because the hatch on their capsule didn’t shut properly and of course i should go to wiki to tell you more but this isn’t that kinda poem and right now i’m kinda out of love with footnotes i mean how much baggage am i actually meant to carry on this whole living trip anyway           i’m space loitering space hanging about when i start falling falling not dramatically with a flourish arms waving that kinda thing no more like the proverbial i say proverbial he did actually drop one didn’t he? stone pebble that Galileo dropped next to the feather like that straight down spirit level down plumb line down lift shaft down oh maybe Towering Inferno is somewhere in this mix too remember all the flames up the lift shaft making Faye Dunaway’s eyebrows shoot up      anyway           the point is down i’m going down and i’m going and going still inside the space suit no rotating or piking or somersaulting just arrow ramrod cannonball whatever sonic boom through all the wispy hair bits of the atmosphere not slowing down even though i know the physics says i am and not burning up either just a white heat Michelin Man with a body hoover and grudge and on and on even though it makes it sound endlessly slow which it wasn’t because then there is a desert no canyon type thing arid not sandy and definitely a cactus and land without leaving a mark on the ground not a trace a thud on impact a sound not a dust mote an atom disturbed and i pop the visor on my suit and find i have become a coyote hyena a wolf                  what you want a moral too? fuck off

(First published in Visual Verse)

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