Boki…. A word that means nothing in English, but when you come to the poem that it’s in – well, there it stands for a shouted syllable, a deconstruction of someone’s name – someone who “went around / with scowling hair, // her long betel-spittled / lips exploding sex-words” while “She sat in street-corners / and exposed glistening secrets / like roots with / shifty-eyed knowledge.” A “nonsense” word that brings so much from its two syllables, is surely what poetry is about. The creation of image from sound. “To bok” in Assamese means to mutter/speak meaninglessly and repetitively. The Sanskrit word, Vak, from which this irreverent Assamese derivative takes its origins, means Speech. And Nitoo Das’s Boki speaks in an explosion of images in which she demonstrates an uncanny ability to create poems that surprise us, hold us, move us to see things in new ways. “A poem / laughs / when you tell it to sit.” These poems not only laugh but insist on dancing. They taste “lush and orange” on the tongue like Disco-Papita, and they will leave you turning the pages for more.
cover art by Nitoo Das