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Original Essays | July 22, 2014

Nick Harkaway: IMG The Florist-Assassins

The three men lit up in my mind's eye, with footnotes. They were converging on me — and on the object I was carrying — in a way that had... Continue »
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    Nick Harkaway 9780385352413


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Handwriting Cover




In the dry lands

every few miles, moving north,

another roadside Ganesh

Straw figures

on bamboo scaffolds

to advertise a family

of stilt-walkers

Men twenty feet high

walking over fields

crossing the thin road

with their minimal arms

and "lying legs"

A dance of tall men

with the movement of prehistoric birds

in practice before they alight

So men become gods

in the small village

of Ilukwewa

Ganesh in pink,

                         in yellow,

in elephant darkness

His simplest shrine

a drawing of him

lime chalk

on a grey slate

All this glory

preparing us for Anuradhapura

its night faith

A city with the lap

and spell of a river

Families below trees

around the heart of a fire


from the small villages

of the dry zone

Circling the dagoba

in a clockwise hum and chant,

bowls of lit coal

above their heads

whispering bare feet

Our flutter and drift

in the tow of this river

Product Details

Random House
Toronto :
Ondaatje, Michael
Publication Date:
78 p.

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

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Product details 78 p. pages Random House - English 9780771068775 Reviews:
"Review" by , "His thrilling poems read like exquisite, unwritten Ondaatje novels."
"Review" by , "A breathtaking collection....If you're going to buy one book this year, buy this one. Ten years from now you'll still be reading it with pleasure."
"Review" by , "Michael Ondaatje's poems read with the same whimsical precision and authority one finds in his prose. He is the most sensibly ironic writer I've read in years, and the most generously disposed. Would that all worlds were this deftly attended."
"Synopsis" by , "Tumultuous, vibrant, tragic and over too soon." --Newsday

Handwriting is Michael Ondaatje's first new book of poetry since The Cinnamon Peeler. The exquisite poems collected here draw on history, mythology, landscape, and personal memories to weave a rich tapestry of images that reveal the longing for--and expose the anguish over--lost loves, homes, and language, as the poet contemplates scents and gestures and evokes a time when "handwriting occurred on waves, / on leaves, the scripts of smoke" and remembers a woman's "laughter with its / intake of breath. Uhh huh."

Crafted with lyrical delicacy and seductive power, Handwriting reminds us of Michael Ondaatje's stature as one of the finest poets writing today.

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