Connecting Conversations_Daljit Nagra

Everywhere I go, I find that a poet has been there before me- Freud
Daljit Nagra, British Indian poet
In 2014, I (Smita) had the opportunity via Connecting Conversations, a Rowan Arts project by psychoanalyst Ruth Robinson, to talk to Daljit Nagra, an award winning British Indian poet. The project was for psychoanalysts to talk to artistes, poets, authors. I was newly qualified but not your 5x week psychoanalyst but the 3x week one. A lot of money and commitment goes into these distinctions. A few years later, the psychoanalysts began to call themselves psychotherapists, for the jobs. Going back to the day of recording, Ruth’s energy led the day. For such short notice and almost no promotion, we were a decent sized group. Here is a snippet of the prep taken from Poetryarchive and a little about Daljit himself, who was charming, : Daljit Nagra (b. 1966) was the first poet to win the Forward Prize for both his first collection of poetry, in 2007, and for its title poem, ‘Look, We Have Coming to Dover!’, three years earlier. An earlier pamphlet, Oh My Rub! was a winner in the Poetry Business pamphlet competition, and was selected by the Poetry Book Society as a Pamphlet Choice. Nagra has also contributed to a collection of translations from Dutch, Uit het Hoofd, and won the Arts Council Decibel Award in 2008. Born in Middlesex, he now lives in London, where he works as an English teacher. Nagra has described Look We Have Coming to Dover! as “obsessed with Asian-ness”, and this can be seen in poems that use Punjabi-inflected English, narratives involving casual racism, and characters who seek the cultural signals of ladoos or saris. However, the work is also interested in Britishness, dealing with the points where these two conditions collide or coincide. Both ‘Digging’ and ‘Look We Have Coming to Dover!’ take models from acknowledged classics of English-language poetry, using Seamus Heaney and Matthew Arnold as predecessors with varying relations to Britain. ‘Yobbos!’ takes a moment of racial harassment in which the narrator is almost driven to describing himself as “more British” than the Irish poet he is reading, nearly falling into the same idea of there being some kind of scale – but resisting. This is done with humour and charm, and with an insistence that poets should not be reduced to their backgrounds. ‘Booking Khan Singh Kumar’, a title that refers to the poet’s previous cross-religious pseudonym, asks “Did you make me for the gap in the market/ Did I make me for the gap in the market”, worrying that fitting into that gap may be restrictive. ‘8’ is an elegy that speaks to anyone who has experienced a bereavement. The shaping of his poems, from the flamboyant Muldoon-like near-rhymes of ‘Yobbos!’ to the disorienting fractured form of ‘X’, demonstrates with grace that craft is an important element to Nagra’s poetry. He reads here as a seasoned performer, able to slip into varied voices as the poem demands, and knowing just how much information to give in occasional introductions so that the poems are illuminated, but not over-explained. The Observer has said “The poet’s reading, like his words, is energetic and as alive as quicksilver”, and this recording shows how apt that judgment is. – See more at: Daljit’s Awards 2014 Shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize 212 Shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize 2008 Arts Council Grant for the Arts 2008 Won The South Bank Show Decibel Prize…more 2007 Costa Poetry prize nomination…more 2007 Won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2007 Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2007 Shortlisted for the Glen Dimplex New Writers Award for Poetry 2007 Shortlisted for the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2004 Won the Forward Poetry Prize for Best Individual Poem 2003 First ever Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice 2003 Oh My Rub! (Smith/Doorstop) Won the Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2003 Pamphlet selected as one of the Guardian Poetry Books of the year  

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I am a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice.

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