USEREVIEW 057 (Capsule): Uncharted
Uncharted (Mansfield Press, 2021)
ISBN 978-1-77126-248-4 | 94 pp | $17 CAD/USD — BUY Here
I confess: it was the eye-catching cover of Uncharted — designed by Mansfield’s publisher, Denis De Klerck — that first drew me to the work. The confrontational stare of a white tiger, whose face engulfs and exceeds the the edges of the book, is difficult to look away from. But the interior content of Uncharted, the third collection of poetry by Sabyasachi Nag, does not disappoint. While the essential lyric tendencies here are familiar, while the text does not run right off the map as the title might suggest, there are nevertheless many moments of quieter surprise within. Those surprises range from the alarming (“Cow skinners, / corpse beaters, / rag pickers, / rat killers”) to the delightful (“A white-throated sparrow /springs onto the edge of my bed — drifts into the dream”). The content, too, roams widely, even within a single poem, catching in its butterfly net specimens of the quotidian, like “fresh-cut tulips in a vase” that “held the lemon sun,” as well as more metaphysical quarry, like “How time moves, / why religion fails.” Uncharted does the admirable work of combing familiar territory and emerging with some bright new stones.
Despite being fairly clear about its subject, ‘The Fact of the Door’ (p. 40) remains quite gnomic about its intentions. There is a door, and our speaker is inevitably stuck on one side of it, but is the door part of a parable, an allegory? Is there a commentary on class and blue-collar labour here? This poem, brief and lovely, bears rereading.