Daljit Nagra

Daljit Nagra was a winner in the 2002 Book & Pamphlet Competition with Oh My Rub! (Smith/Doorstop, 2003), which was subsequently selected as one of The Guardian Poetry Books of the Year and awarded the first ever PBS Pamphlet Choice Award.

He has since won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and been shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize, the Costa Prize, the Guardian First Book Award, and the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.

His work has been published The Rialto, Poetry London and Poetry Review.

Daljit was born and brought up in West London and Sheffield.

Daljit reading on National Poetry Day



I shave hairs to the shape of a passport photo.
Into the good skin, steeling along
the top end of the picture, a straight incision
until blob by seamless blob, over
the Stanley knife, a rivering of blood. 

Once under the fold, down to the roots,
nerve-hand holds for slicing
level the parallel lines of a photo.
Leaning deeper so the unconscious
deep so the gore geometric be heaped up,
I drop the silvery haft, the leg,
lug back the flap.            

I hear a cry from some of myself.
So this is me. This
jameen. This meat
to which I war myself.




Why now not be naked, you naughty western woman?
Not four month since I aeroplane you over
already you are ordering newest Bombay fashions
as ready-to-wear clothes. What confusion!
My mother, who kept the one trunk for life
packed with folded silks, would every few years
stitch a shiny salwaar to the old cuts in minutes.
But your tightening of the costume bottoms
of the dowry of the sacred day is a punky
drain-piping! We should be baggy with a widening
pride of the pyjama end, beaming a Punjabi smile,
puckered by you into a bony lady’s bellybutton!

Our peoples at the Sugar Puff factory, I overhear
poison their wives at night monster their heads
crazy with: She was in film star red, one says.
No, no, another replies, she’s in chocolate sauce,
but the black-necked boiler suit boy standing up,
slaps his hands to say: No, no, no, I saw her at market
with milky teeth, in the company of her Doctor –
the Avon Lady. I swear by all the gods in my locker
she was covered in British poodle pink!
Laughing over lunch, they toss up their chapatti rolls,
their Black Jack cards at the talk of your toe nails.
Putting on constipation I stay in the Gentlemans’.

Turn off those sunglasses. Is it summer in this evening
of winter? Look at me, what is that cherry jelly
lumping the lash of your eyes? Are you bleeding upwards?
Those mascara scars? This half cut hair-mop?
How can this be a forehead for the special red dot
when it’s on a skin-headed sex-change woman?
What mistake I make with English reading city wife
trying my body with jockstraps from my B-team
hockey days. All night long – the pouncing, the tickling,
the lipstick and ‘odour toilet’. I can no longer meditate,
pray or lock into my lotus position. Or close my legs!
Oh my rub! What is England happening for us?


Titles by this author

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