Daljit Nagra

Daljit Nagra is from a Sikh background, and grew up in West London then Sheffield. He has published four books of poetry, all with Faber & Faber. His poem ‘Look We Have Coming to Dover!’ won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem in 2004. His first collection of the same name won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2007 and the South Bank Show Decibel Award in 2008. His subsequent two collections, Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man Eating Tiger-Toy Machine!!! and his version of the Ramayana were both nominated for the T.S. Eliot Prize. In 2014 he was selected as a New Generation Poet by the PBS. He won a Royal Society Travelling Scholarship the following year. His latest collection is British Museum which was published in 2017. He was the inaugural poet in residence for Radio 4/4 Extra and teaches at Brunel University London.

daljitnagra.com

Events

Five O’Clock Verses »

Reading: Rachael Boast, Daljit Nagra

Fri 9 March | 17:00 - 18:00 | £6.50/£4.50 | Parliament Hall, South Street

Poem

Vox Populi, Vox Dei

That he should opulently inherit
The goods and titles of the extinct.
– Robert Graves, ‘A Country Mansion’

                Who are we at root?
To know this is to know our range, the cast of characters
                we’ve banked?
Weren’t we once a plucky bunch in battle led by Drake
                and Nelson?
Wherever we died turned Britain forever? An amphibious tribe
                who fished,
however far we ventured, our rivers coursed within us to chant
                our poetic names
roll on sweet Avon, sweet Ouse? The apple fell on Newton
                so we walk tall,
stay tall for Brunel and Darwin? Who’d speak for our garden
                utopias? Not Clive
of India, not Kitchener’s finger, but John Barleycorn, the Green
                Man. Weren’t we ruled
by black emperors? Our first couple of Obama glamour,
                Septimius Severus
and Julia? Who else to deepen us? Surely Julian of Norwich
                in her Albion
of divine love? The Tolpuddle Martyrs? What heritage or
                broch or crop of
skyline stone abounds us with murmurs of ancient wisdom?
                So much at root,
what ramparts of fear have we built? Have we been severed
                from the world?
Could we seek guidance from the Virgin Queen, the Lady
                of the Lamp,
so we’re bold as Boudica, noble as Livingstone and Bevan?

Daljit Nagra

From British Museum (Faber & Faber, 2017)