NIA DAVIES and SAMPURNA CHATTARJI: Ritual Correspondence

Ritual: I

thinking about ritual : : the ritual of thinking
confusing ritual with ritualistic
inside noise is a space where I am the bodiment
of resistance to ritual (understood as mindless
devotion to a set of gestures embedded in stone)
embodiment : : impediment
the embediment of noise
when extracted from the habitat also known as
the dénouement is also natural : a denouncement
of gesture congealed by mindlessness into
an unthinking thing
devoid of beauty
embedded in noise

but when the gesture vanishes from lack of use
(or overuse)
what remains?
a lack :
the something missing thing that hovers
at the edges of expectation
just a few inches above the waiting toes
expecting to be touched by brushing fingers
the curve of back the swift dip of practised
youth bending to take the dust off their elders’ feet
the sage-old certainty of the thing to be done the moment
you enter the grandparental room
where obeisance wasn’t even a word that crossed your mind
much less the cusp of your connection with the old
which comprised simply of the certainty of being
there were but four sets of feet worthy of being touched
in that manner prayerful and otherwise so entirely reprehensible
if to be executed in the line of duty
perfunctory function in which mechanical alignment was all
and so entirely empty :
conformity to form.




Sampurna Chattarji is a poet, novelist, translator and children’s author. Her fourteen books include five poetry books—Space Gulliver: Chronicles of an Alien (HarperCollins, 2015), The Scorpion (e-book, Harper21, 2013), Absent Muses (Poetrywala, 2010), The Fried Frog and other Funny Freaky Foodie Feisty Poems (Scholastic, 2009) and Sight May Strike You Blind (Sahitya Akademi, 2007, reprint 2008). Her two novels, Rupture (2009) and Land of the Well (2012), are both from HarperCollins. Numerous anthology appearances include 60 Indian Poets (Penguin); The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian PoetsThe HarperCollins Book of English PoetryBoth Sides of the Sky (National Book Trust), We Speak in Changing Languages (Sahitya Akademi); Interior Decoration: poems by 54 women from 10 languages (Women Unlimited); and The Literary Review Indian Poetry Issue (New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University). She edited the anthology Sweeping the Front Yard (SPARROW 2010), a collection of poetry and prose by women writing in English, Malayalam, Telugu and Urdu. Her poetry has been translated into German, Swiss-German, Welsh, Scots, French, Gaelic, Estonian, Arabic, Portuguese, Frisian, Maltese, Slovenian, Galician, Tamil, Manipuri, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Bangla and Bambaiyya; and her children’s fiction into Welsh and Icelandic. Sampurna was the 2012 Charles Wallace Writer-in-Residence from India at the University of Kent, CanterburyDirty Love (Penguin, 2013), is her collection of short stories about Bombay/Mumbai; and Selected Poems (Harper Perennial, 2014) is her translation of the Bengali poet Joy Goswami, which was shortlisted for the inaugural Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry. She is a Creative Fellow at Aberystwyth University and the Poetry Editor for the print magazine The Indian Quarterly.

Nia Davies was born in Sheffield and lives in Wales. She has been editor of Poetry Wales since 2014 and has worked on several international and collaborative projects. Her first book-length collection All Fours (Bloodaxe Books, 2017) follows the pamphlets England (Crater, 2017),  Çekoslovakyalilaştiramadiklarimizdanmisiniz or Long Words (Boiled String, 2016) and Then Spree (Salt, 2012). Her poems and essays have been published and translated widely and she has appeared in several international festivals. A frequent collaborator with other poets and artists, she co-curated Gelynion, a Welsh Enemies project on collaboration in contemporary poetry in Wales in 2015. She is currently undertaking practice-based research at the University of Salford.




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