Saturday 15 April 2023

Rishi Dastidar, "Neptune's Projects"

Rishi Dastidar is a fellow of The Complete Works, and a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine. A poem from his debut Ticker-tape was included in The Forward Book of Poetry 2018. A second book, Saffron Jack, was published in 2020, and he is editor of The Craft: A Guide to Making Poetry Happen in the 21st Century. He is also co-editor of Too Young, Too Loud, Too Different: Poems from Malika’s Poetry Kitchen (Corsair). His third collection, Neptune’s Projects, is published by Nine Arches Press.

About Neptune's Projects, by Rishi Dastidar

In the blurb for Neptune’s Projects, I’ve said that the poems are a ‘post-apocalyptic jig and reel.’ The apocalypse bit is important, in that I’m thinking of the book as ‘apocalyptic poetics’ rather than eco poetics. Mainly because I’m not sure ‘ecopoetics’ as a phrase quite gets the alarm we should be feeling – it feels passive to me. I concede that ‘apocalyptic poetics’ is not particularly active either, and absolutely is an overclaim and hyperbole – right now – but in that gap, I thought there was some interesting space to explore; how do you raise concerns about the environment in a new way? Can finding a tone that isn’t bystanding and handwringing per se achieve more, anything? Is there space for, dare one say it, jokes? Hence why Neptune, my main protagonist / avatar this time round, is world weary, sarcastic, and very aware of its limitations – a register I’ve found great for accessing bleak, black humour.

You can read more about Neptune's Projects on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read a sample poem from the collection. 

From Neptune's Projects


Are you bored yet, bored of your desk,
your window, the same vista, not even 
a breeze to make the starling fly faster? 

I am bored of performing when I should
be meeting; I don’t know where my eyes 
even go anymore. Only boring people are 

ever bored, a boring person once said, 
and sure my imagination isn’t locked down, 
but then all I could think about was being 

on a dhow right now, a kamal for a heart, 
a lateen the only future, the infinite same 
different from this. I can’t even swim.

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