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Chrys Salt is a widely published and much travelled poet and a happy performer of her work. A recipient of bursaries and awards ( various) and recently promoted  MBE for services to the Arts. Her work has appeared in anthologies all over the world, been performed on BBC Radio 3 and 4, UK wide, in the USA, Canada, France, Germany and Finland. It has been translated into French and Arabic and is currently being translated into Hebrew. Her poem ‘The Burning’ from Weaver of Grass (GRASS  IDP 2012) was selected as one of the 20 Best Scottish Poems 2012.

 

In 2014 her limited edition pamphlet Weaver of Grass (Hattericks House 2013, artwork Deirdre Carlisle) was shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry

 

138 x 216mm

 

36 pages

 

£6.00 + P&P UK

 

ISBN 978-1-910834-59-6

 

PUB: 22 SEPTEMBER 2017

 

 

ORDER HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Punkawallah's Rope marks the 70th Anniversary of the Partition of India and The India-UK Year of Culture. Chrys performed at The Kolkata Book Fair in 2016 and spent a month in Kolkata and North East India.

The Punkawallah's Rope offers poems in a range of voices that reflect the colour,

sound-track and recent history of India.

How can a middle-class white woman begin to understand and engage with this most complex and challenging of continents?

 

******

'It is a brave, beautiful and deeply unsettling way of making the reader look again at long-familiar events, as though the mother of Wilfred Owen or Edward Thomas had kept a verse diary during the first world war.'

(Home Front/Front Line)

Andy Croft

(review in the Morning Star)

 

'A treat for anyone who enjoys unpretentious but profound poetry.'

(Grass) 

Writers International

 

'Dancing on a Rock is a glittering addition to Chrys Salt’s ‘Roll of Honour’. An utterly riveting read.'

(PEN EXPRESS Newsletter)

 

 

The Punkawallah's Rope

 

Chrys Salt

 

 

Grand Hotel, Kolkata

 

Our tea is brought,

in china thin as fingernails.

Fragrant Darjeeling,

with fruitcake jewelled with cherries,

cucumber sandwiches, thin-sliced,

triangular.

 

Orbs of lamplight fruit

from ornamental poles,

illuminate the baize of courtyard lawns,

the pristine tablecloths,

glint on the silver plated cutlery,

the turquoise pool

where night time bathers bask and loll

like river fish.

 

And here we are sipping delicious tea,

moneyed, elegant and insular,

talking of NGOs, the rural poor,

how to cure the ills of India.

 

Beyond a cool and pillared entrance hall,

Sikh doormen in their skirted robes, tall

ceilings with colonial cornices,

the wheezing of a punkawallah's rope

is scarcely audible.

 

 

 

Partition 1947

(an old man remembers)

 

'Where are we going?’

'I don't know,' papa said,

'but this is not my country now.

I want to die in India.'

 

Old eyes cloud

with seventy years of history

and loss.

 

'I still have dreams

of growing up with friends,

Hindu and Muslim,

Remember their addresses,

every one,

our village fish tank

with three kinds of carp,

of playing Daria Bandha in the sun,

a football we begged money for

from door to door,

the house dad built

for his retirement, back then.

 

The day they said

my friends were enemies,

spoke of marauding mobs,

in nearby villages.

 

The day

we packed up all that we could carry,

took a train.'

Mother India

 

From up here, inlets glitter

bright as knives,

slice slits into the skirts of India.

 

Inland, a blouse of hills

glows with embroidery

of shadow, amber sun

 

moulding the breasts

and shoulders of this

gracious continent.

 

Sand, gold and silken,

frilled with lace, edges the kirtle

of a cornflower sea.

 

From up here India

is courtly, innocent,

and quite 'The Lady',

 

not waving amputated stumps

or banging in car windows

with a borrowed baby.

 

 

Departure

 

Who is that woman, clothes washed for her,

clothes that were never ironed flatter,

purse tight to every needy beggar,

eyes front, keeps walking? Have I met her?

 

She looks like someone I knew before

I came – same height, that same demeanour,

someone who thought she had the measure

of herself, a kindlier other.

 

But surely that wasn't her I saw,

poking round temple, prayer and puja,

paying  a pittance for a  rickshaw,

bartering for discounts with the poor,

 

or snapping scenes of 'local colour',

kids shelling peas in roads and gutters,

a legless man dragging his kurta –

their still lifes caught behind a shutter?

 

Who boards that air-cooled 'plane, I wonder?

Had she been her kind familiar,

could she ever have been something more

than memsahib with her punkawallah?    

 

 

Dancing girl

 

Dogs, cows, palms, hills, grass,

bronzed with dust to statuary,

then splashed with yellow,

orange, purple, sapphire, green.

A brown girl dressed in coloured silk

for dancing in.    

9781910834596   (1) co_Chrys_Salt amend

Author cartoon illustration by Alban Low