A selection of reviews for ‘Indiom’, ‘Look we have coming to Dover!‘ &
‘Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!!‘
Philippa Conlon, Prospect Magazine
Sept 6, 2023 – ‘Let’s talk langwidge: the irreverent brilliance of Daljit Nagra’s ‘indiom’’
There comes a moment in all complex, “talkie” poems when the writer must acknowledge that unavoidable predecessor of poetic difficulty, Mr TS Eliot. When the moment arrives in Daljit Nagra’s indiom, it is glancingly brief but nonetheless revealing: someone references an “Englisch Langwidge” poet “from Ind”, and a parenthetical aside informs us this reference “was made / by that great pretender / Mr Pound, of Mr Eliot’s Wasteland.”…click here to read more
Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian
Aug 30, 2023 – ‘The best recent poetry – review roundup’
After the solemnity of 2017’s British Museum, Nagra’s latest work is a mock epic set in a poetry workshop being filmed for a documentary.
It foregrounds a discussion of how writers from migrant backgrounds might – or might not – be read and accepted, and how they position themselves in relation to standard English, the canon and knowing “thy Blighty”.
This sounds forbiddingly academic, but indiom is a playfully giddy highwire act of sharp cultural and political observation, delivered with Nagra’s trademark linguistic exuberance: “Let’s not be scotched / from forking our fringe voice – it’s a migrant prerogative.”…click here to read more
Alison Flood, The Guardian
Nov 30, 2020 – ‘Royal Society of Literature reveals historic changes to improve diversity’
Eminent group adds pens of Andrea Levy and Jean Rhys to its collection as it sets out to champion writers of colour…click here to read more
Claire Armitstead, The Guardian
Jul 14, 2017 – Daljit Nagra: ‘Poetry is an espresso shot of thought’
Radio 4’s poet in residence on his journey from school dropout to poetry prizewinner…click here to read more
Charlie McBride, Galway Advertiser
Apr 26, 2018 – Daljit Nagra talks multi-culturalism and Brexit ahead of Cúirt reading
THE AWARD-winning Anglo-Indian poet, Daljit Nagra, whose ebullient, sharp-witted poems have made him one of Britain’s most popular and acclaimed poets, reads from his work at the Town Hall Theatre this Saturday, as part of Cúirt…click here to read more
Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times
June 4 2017 – Books: British Museum by Daljit Nagra
Daljit Nagra leapt into English poetry with an exclamation mark. Look We Have Coming to Dover! was the title of the Forward-prize-winning poem that made his name in 2004 and later his debut collection from Faber. He followed it in 2011 with Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!!, and then, in 2013, a free retelling of the Asian epic poem, Ramayana, which was also peppered with energetic, comic-book outbursts (“Scrammed from . thirteen wowser arrows, by jiminy!”)
…click here to read more
Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian
19 May 2017 – British Museum by Daljit Nagra review – a questing, questioning third volume
…at times British Museum can seem too consciously topical a book of poems. But at its best, it shows Nagra pushing the puckishness of his style to address social themes of increasing significance, suggesting, as “He Do the Foreign Voices” does, “our hoard of words must cleanse the world”…click here
Nov 9th, 2011 – With Eliot nod, Daljit Nagra reclaims Indian accent from mockers
So to find, alongside the likes of Carol Ann Duffy and Alice Oswald (a previous winner), a collection that opens with a hilarious Punjabi English take on Romeo and Juliet – “Vut a summer it was when yoo teach me to kiss/or to walk wid yor hand and not blush in public” – is not just encouraging. It’s invigorating for the state of poetry, full stop. says Ben East…click here
Camden New Journal
Oct 27th, 2011 – Book Review
One of the triumphs of this book is that it sustains such doubleness and complexity while raising a smile or packing a wallop. As the punchbag imagery suggests, the debate Nagra is rehearsing about his part in “Empire’s quid pro quo” isn’t academic. Like Yossarian in Catch 22 he refuses to regard himself as a cog in the machine and takes history personally, so the struggle is keenly felt: “To some degree it always feels out of control in my head”, says Kate Webb…click here
Jul 31st, 2011 – Daljit Nagra’s second collection explores linguistic identity to exhilarating effect
Even the title is a pick-me-up: animated, garrulous, entertaining and breaking an unwritten rule (since when were three exclamation marks welcomed in poetry?), says Kate Kellaway…click here
Sunday February 4, 2007 – Hilda Ogden is my muse
Daljit Nagra’s vivid tales of immigrant life and love are electrifying the world of poetry, says Rachel Cooke…click here
Jan 18, 2007 – The bard of Dollis Hill
Having the country’s biggest poetry publisher take on your debut collection is a dream come true for an unknown poet. But Daljit Nagra’s greatest feat is capturing the experience of British-born Indians, says Patrick Barkham…click here
The New Statesman
12 Mar 2007, Sameer Rahim – Own-made styles
The narrator of “In a White Town”, a poem in Daljit Nagra’s debut collection, used to feel embarrassed when his mother went to market wearing a “pink kameez and baloon’d bottoms”. He admits that “I would have felt more at home had she hidden/that illiterate body”. The phrase “illiterate body” tells us she cannot read and write, but also implies that she is unreadable to English people (perhaps including her son). Nagra’s poems try to embody the sentiments of such Punjabi Sikhs living in England, often through his gloriously unembarrassed use of their idioms and linguistic turns…click here
Star Poet Shares His Knowledge in Twickenham, By Jean Lebleu
edited October 9, 2007
Aspiring local poets were treated to a rare opportunity on October 6th when two-time Forward Prize winner Daljit Nagra conducted a poetry workshop at the Twickenham Library. Participants had the full attention of the critically-acclaimed poet who has been featured in national newspapers and appeared on BBC Two’s Newsnight Review just the evening prior to the workshop. The unique three-hour event was organised with Mr. Nagra by Praveen Mangani, Operations Manager, Library, London Borough of Richmond, and Fiona Pearson and Liliana Ferreira, both Reading Development Librarians.
The workshop was open to the public for the first 15 people to reserve a place. Participants wrote a few short poems using various techniques, read their work to the group and presented their own previously-written poems for feedback.
Mr. Nagra encouraged the group to read their work regularly. “Practice makes it easier to overcome any fears of publicly reading,” he said. He also advised the poets to share information with each other about sources and opportunities. “It’s important to learn from each other,” he said.
“There was an enormous amount of information,” said participant Elizabeth Bell of East Sheen. “He shared his knowledge like a rushing river.”
Mr. Nagra has been praised for the wit and intelligence with which he relates the experiences of those who must integrate themselves into a new culture. He first won the prestigious Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem in 2004 for Look We Have Coming to Dover!, and again in early October this year for Best First Collection for his book of poems of the same title, which was published in February 2007 by Faber and Faber. His collection will soon be available in audio form.
London Review of Books
Archive, 2007, Robert Potts
Nagra’s work has excited attention because he deals with the experiences of, for the most part, the British Asian working class, specifically Punjabis, and employs both standard and non-standard English to do so…click here
Mar 2007 – Alison Brackenbury reviews Look We Have Coming to Dover
I took this book to Lapland. Its red cover smouldered by heated gloves, under roofs with a metre of snow. I greeted the blurb’s boast, “much awaited”, not with the reviewer’s frozen snarl but the reader’s thawed smile. I have indeed waited for this collection, tracking stray poems through the snowy pages of magazines. It is a book to fill a gap…click here
BBC Newsnight Review
19 January, 2007 – Programme presented by Hardeep Kohli
Paul Morley, Denise Mina, Sarah Churchwell, Ian McMillan…click here
BBC Collective: the interactive culture magazine #275
An audio interview with a written article to go with it on the back of my reading at the Edinburgh Festival 2007…click here
Review of a Reading at Canford School in Wimborne.