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Deathwish

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I want to be sweet and clear and free, as half a line
of Auden, or an episode of the Powerpuff Girls;
I want to be dew, and honest with mine,
like Bob Marley, or Boesman the Boer.
I want to swing and get it right
at the speed of Pollock’s light,
I want to be deep like Zulu,
tight like Tamil,
and trust my sense of Sanskrit true
with little shame for its will.
I want to dabble in the fields
ignorant of what I was doing,
rub myself on the ruins
with a self-induced disease
and gleefully lapse
the hope to be heard. I want to fix
my favourite English words
into the forty-fifth century—
haw, for instance, or luminary—
hiding them in a snatch of prose…
passed over in silence
like Wittgenstein, no evidence
for myself or Laura Riding,
like Bharathiyar going mad composing,
I want to dissolve into our language
printing too little for my age;
I want to be obscure but not leaden,
flippant if I feel like it, then
I don’t mind being called poetically shitty
in a note from Manohar Shetty,
writing into the time we’ve borrowed,
singing from our utter boredom;
I want to hold in me the heat of my combustion
and leave this sweat-smear as a resurrection:
I want to be sweet and clear and free,
insouciant, insufferable, just like me.
 

Vivek Narayanan, "Deathwish" from Universal Beach.  Copyright © 2011 by Vivek Narayanan.  Reprinted by permission of the author.
Source: Universal Beach (ingirumimusnocte, 2011)
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Deathwish

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  • Vivek Narayanan was born in India and raised in Zambia. He earned an MA in cultural anthropology from Stanford University, and an MFA in creative writing from Boston University.  He was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University (2013-14) and a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library (2015-16) while working on a book of poems about the ancient Indian epic poem Ramayana.
    Narayanan has taught history, anthropology and creative writing in many places, including the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, and the Center for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi.  His books of poems include Universal Beach (Harbour Line Press, 2006/In Girum Books, 2011) and Life and Times of Mr S (HarperCollins India, 2012). A full-length collection of his poems in Swedish translation was published in 2015 by the Stockholm-based Wahlström & Widstrand. He is co-editor of Almost Island, a nine-year old India-based journal, literary organization, and publisher. His essays,...

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