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.
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)