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Sumita Chakraborty

Cover of Arrow by Sumita Chakraborty
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Categories: 21st Century, American, BAME, First Collections, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (96 pages)
(Pub. Sep 2020)
£10.99 £9.89
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(Pub. Sep 2020)
£8.79 £7.91
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Winner of the Seamus Heaney First Collection Poetry Prize 2021
    Shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Poetry Prize 2021

    is a debut volume extraordinary in ambition, range and achievement. At its centre is 'Dear, beloved', a more-than-elegy for her younger sister who died suddenly: in the two years she took to write the poem, much else came into play: 'it was my hope to write the mood of elegy rather than an elegy proper,' following the example of the great elegists including Milton, to whose Paradise Lost she listened during the period of composition, also hearing the strains of Brigit Pegeen Kelly's Song, of Alice Oswald and Marie Howe. The poem becomes a kind of kingdom, 'one that is at once evil, or blighted, and beautiful, not to mention everything in between'.

    As well as elegy, Chakraborty composes invocations, verse essays, and the strange extended miracle of the title poem, in which ancient and modern history, memory and the lived moment, are held in a directed balance. It celebrates the natural forces of the world and the rapt experience of balance, form and - love. She declares a marked admiration for poems that 'will write into being a world that already in some way exists'. This is what her poems achieve.
    Sumita Chakraborty is a poet, essayist, and scholar. She is Helen Zell Visiting Professor in Poetry at the University of Michigan, where she teaches literary studies and creative writing. In 2017, she received a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and in 2018, her poem ‘And ... read more
    Awards won by Sumita Chakraborty Winner, 2021 The Seamus Heaney First Collection Poetry Prize
    Short-listed, 2021  The Michael Murphy Memorial Poetry Prize
    'Arrow by Sumita Chakraborty is a marvelous collection for both the maximalist and minimalist. Here are brief lyrics, prose essays, parables, lengthy lineated epics - and all of them given life with language stretched and pummelled into shape. Dealing in myth, astronomy, autobiography, philosophy, physics and metaphysics, Chakraborty possesses a singular outlook and the tone of a prophet.'

    Nick Laird, Chair of the Seamus Heaney Centre First Collections Poetry Prize Judges

    '... a book of consistent quality... whose constituent poems work together to form a totality of such richness and ambition. [Chakraborty has] a voice distinguished by its remarkable ability to combine the intellectual with the emotional, the abstract with the somatic, the essayistic with the lyrical'

    Padraig Regan, Seamus Heaney Centre

    'This powerful and endlessly mysterious collection of poems is a book of fables, of spells, of revised narratives, and of realigned songs, brightly lifted above our bodies by music that is as unpredictable as it is marvelous. The lyricism is everywhere apparent as Sumita Chakraborty addresses us, our bodies and their stories, our planet, and our sense of time itself. How does she do it? Mad Ireland hurt him into poetry, W. H. Auden wrote about Yeats, and as the hurt enters Chakraborty's language, we see that in speech violated, sounds and meanings - and even the oldest of human mysteries, like "the etymology of love" - are redefined. All one can do is repeat: this is an endlessly compelling book. Bravo.'
    Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
    'Arrow is rich: it is a collection to truly lose yourself in - you could spend hours gleefully unpicking and analysing all the clever references and imagery, or simply let the writing wash over you like a cold sea wave, painful but invigorating... It is the perfect collection for lovers of contemporary poetry: strongly rooted in poetic traditions, with themes and language that make it feel fresh and exhilarating. Arrow feels like an extension of Sumita Chakraborty herself - sharp, brave and intuitive.'
    Jordan Lynch, The F Word
    'Form is elastic, and content is elusive... Chakraborty writes poems that are full of life and joy even when she is thinking through violence and grief, but in their sweep they defy easy notions of aboutness... Here, words themselves are weapons'
    Elisa Gabbert, New York Times
    '[Arrow] summons forth breathless visions and sonorous prophecies in a wry and dazzling oracular collection... this is an awe-inspiring, soaring debut; both epic and distilled.'
    Poetry Book Society Autumn Selections Reviews
    'I stand in awe of Sumita Chakraborty's visionary collection, by turns epic and compressed in scope, weighty in its tapestry-like materiality and sleekly dynamic as an arrow. The mythic and literary, here, are invigorated by seeming autobiography, which in turn gains collective energy and heft from the poems' imeless tropes and themes. Seamless and diverse in form, cosmic in subject and image, one feels in the presence of an oracular intelligence and an abiding lyric imagination.'
    Diane Seuss, author of Four-Legged Girl and Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl
    'About a quarter of the way through Sumita Chakraborty's Arrow, the reader encounters an impossible poem called 'Dear, beloved'. It's impossible because who could write it? It's as large, in its way, as any epic, but as compressed as any lyric, and as beautiful as any lyric, but as foundational as any epic, but it seems to come after all things, though it seems, also, diurnal. And it's impossible also because it's a highlight, not the highlight, of Arrow, a debut as assured as any first or last book, as compelling as any, as well-made.'
    Shane McCrae, author of The Gilded Auction Block and In the Language of My Captor
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