Nalini Paul

Nalini Paul is a poet currently based in Glasgow, although she has also lived in Edinburgh, South Lanarkshire and Orkney via India and Canada. She is a widely published poet and has collaborated across various art forms, including stage and film. She was George Mackay Brown Writing Fellow in Orkney from 2009 until 2010, where she worked with dancers, musicians, visual artists, archaeologists and the RSPB. Her first poetry pamphlet, Skirlags (Red Squirrel Press), was shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Award in 2010. Nalini’s current project with Stellar Quines Theatre Company, Beyond the Mud Walls, is set partly in early 1940s India and was showcased as a work in progress for ‘Rehearsal Rooms’ at the Traverse in September 2016. This is now being developed towards full production.

www.nalinipaul.com

Photo: James J. Coleman

Events

House of Three Showcase »

Reading: Marjorie Lotfi Gill, Nalini Paul, Iona Lee

Fri 3 March | 13:00 - 14:00 | £4.00/£3.00 | The Town Hall, Queens Gardens, Council Chamber

Poem

G&T

Quinine was used against malaria in India;
so the British drank tonic with their gin.

You’ve faded into patio
chit-chat, under yacht-friendly skies,
            ospreys looming into view
and everyone so much whiter than you.

Words fall like Empires;
discarded relics glint and wink:
            sapphires
            the Koh-i-Noor
            inlaid mother-of-pearl.

Behind it all is darkness,
a vaulted corridor
shut tight.

When chancing on these fragments
of your past, jewels come
into their own
            like stone, hewn
from many makers.

And in the musty dim of forgotten
piles of books, where dancing statues
mourn the silence,
a mirror held you in its truth
of ‘East’ and ‘West’:

you could not see yourself
without the other.

            II

As the juniper juice
loosens her gob,
language sinks its anchor,
speaks you into being
with a three-thousand-year-old
tongue.

The womb of words from Latin
to the Celts
lives in your bibi’s secret place,
home from home.

It must have been painful
when she left.

Her taste sticks
to your mouth still,
its long, cool caress fogs up
the glass with every swill.

 

Nalini Paul

bibi – the British man’s Indian female companion during the Raj