Space Gulliver

Sampurna’s 14th published book Space Gulliver: Chronicles of an Alien is out from HarperCollins (July 2015).

Space Gulliver cover


‘Boldly playful, ingenious, associative and mercurial, Sampurna Chattarji’s new poems careen through varied terrain, geographic and linguistic, in a dizzy journey of defamiliarization, as the alien protagonist, Space Gulliver, extends and challenges habitual ideas of what constitutes the mundane. In the process, she proceeds to recover for herself the sense of “first-time-ness”, the art of being “vulnerable to every body that rests against mine, vulnerable to the word ‘eagle’, […] the idea of the scar that the knife has left around the heart”. She also recovers the art of living on the edge – “a good place to sit when you wish/ to regard the world you had insanely loved/ and now feel only a puzzled affection for”. Here is a book that blends intellectual enquiry, a taste for whimsy and a love of language into challenging and audacious poetry.’


‘The work is a joy to read. I found myself moved and delighted by its various aspects: reports on the cathedral in its changing moods, the diary-like pieces and the Space Gulliver poems. For me, the cathedral poems were a lovely place to start … I was very affected by the way the building kept glancing into sight, reflecting the season and the way a person comes upon it. The way the poems turned the corner made a remote site real. The diary pieces were more real, uncannily so at times, as events that I sometimes recognised came into a wandering written form. The shifts from poems to prose were quite thrilling, full pages dropping into almost emptied spaces. For me, though, the real pleasure in this set came with the beautiful revolutions of the Space Gulliver poems. What worked was precisely the way the poet kept working the line and the voice, so that with each poem new resources emerged. I began by admiring this as a practice but gradually, as the voice and its commitments developed, I found myself simply taken by the language and what it had become able to do. Something quite remarkable starts to happen at some point in this sequence so that by the end the reader – this reader anyway – is fully enfolded in Space Gulliver’s world.’

DAVID HERD, Poet and professor of Modern Literature, University of Kent





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