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Bashabi Fraser is a poet, children’s writer, translator, critic and editor. She is a transnational writer who traverses continents as she brings the East and West together in a blend that is distinctively her own. She has been widely published and anthologised. Her recent publications include Letters to my Mother and Other Mothers (2015), Rabindranath Tagore's Global Vision, Guest Ed issue of Literature Compass (2015), Ragas & Reels (poems on migration and diaspora , 2012), Scots Beneath the Banyan Tree: Stories from Bengal (2012); From the Ganga to the Tay (an epic poem, 2009); Bengal Partition Stories: An Unclosed Chapter (2006; 2008, for which she was awarded a British Academy research grant)), A Meeting of Two Minds: the Geddes Tagore Letters (2005, which received a Moray Foundation grant) and Tartan & Turban (poetry collection, 2004). She is the Editor-in-Chief of the international peer reviewed academic and creative e-journal, Gitanjali and Beyond, and has published the first issue entitled, Tagore and Spirituality, November, 2016.
Her awards include the 2015 Outstanding Woman of Scotland awarded by Saltire Society, Women Empowered: Arts and Culture Award in 2010 and the AIO Prize for Literary Services in Scotland in 2009. She has had several writing residencies.
Bashabi is a Professor of English and Creative Writing and co-founder and Director of the Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies (ScoTs) at Edinburgh Napier University and an Honorary Fellow at the Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh. She has been, till recently, a Royal Literary Fund Fellow based at Dundee University and then at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. She has been awarded the ICCR International Research Fellowship to write on Rabindranath Tagore.
She is a Council member of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies (ASLS), Patron of the Federation of Writers in Scotland, executive committee member of Scottish PEN, Writers in Prison (Scotland) and the Poetry Association of Scotland. She is a Trustee of the Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust, a Director on the Board of the Patrick Geddes Memorial Trust and on the Management Committee of the Scottish Association of Writers and Ambassador for the Workers Educational Association.
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
PUB: APRIL 2017
The Homing Bird explores the diasporic experience of living between two worlds. It enters that interstitial space that all migrants must inhabit as they bring the ‘elsewhere’ with them to a shore whose shingle will always bear the imprint of their footsteps which mingle with those who are already there and with others who will come after them.
Like the migratory bird, the poems scour continents as the poet herself does, never forgetting the warmth of the tropical sun where her journey began, and always aware of the cool refreshing breeze that beckons from her home now in a temperate zone.
Borders are challenged as nations reach across shadow lines in a dialogue that has continued between Britain and India through time.
The Homing Bird
There was a time when you and I
Chased the same butterfly
Climbed the same stolid trees
With the fearless expertise
That children take for granted
Before their faith is stunted
Do you remember how we balanced a wheel
Down dusty paths with childish zeal
Do you remember the ripples that shivered
As we ducked and dived in our river
Do you remember what we shared
Of love and meals, and all we dared
Together – without fears
Because we were one
In those past years
Before we knew that butterflies
Were free to share our separate skies
That they could cross with graceful ease
To alight on stationary trees
On either side of this strange line
That separates yours from mine
For whose existence we rely
Entirely on our inward eye
This border by whose callous side
Our inert wheel lies stultified
This border that cuts like a knife
Through the waters of our life
Slicing fluid rivers with
The absurdity of a new myth
That denies centuries
Of friendships and families
This border that now decrees
One shared past with two histories
This border that now decides
The sky between us as two skies
This border born of blood spilt free
Makes you my friend, my enemy.
Fog on Hill Cart Road
(between Darjeeling and Siliguri)
It was the same fog
That heavy treaded
Down the mountains
The shadowy bends
Its black humour
Threats to throw
Us over its
With the skill
Of the blind,
Than the pall
Christmas: Burra Deen
We had turned from the white streets of London
From carol singing on a wintry afternoon
The snowman looking up to admire
The glinting Christmas tree at the window –
To reflective blue skies
A warm wrap-around sun of fun
And of trees with paper leaves
Cut into frills of fir foliage, defying
The ambient green branches and colourful
Butterfly hues on bushes redolent
Of colonial migrations of dahlias,
Cosmos, petunias, poppies and
Chrysanthemums in white plenitude
Snow-like on a soft Christmas night.
We had picked a sparkling star
Of Bethlehem to hang at our window
A nativity scene in clay, tinsel streamers
And holly that didn’t quite look like holly
In its plasticky obviousness
From New Market’s grand arcades
Which Hogg Saheb had built in Calcutta.
We had come home with Dundee cake in
A round tin, with sweet aromatic
Darjeeling oranges, to supplement
Ma’s homemade fruit cake, her
Bengali Bhetki fries
Her roast chicken, subtly spiced cauliflower
And peppered potatoes tumbled in ghee
That we ate before the Christian millions
Set out to sing carols in India’s churches
At Midnight Mass, and the nation slept
To wake up on a national holiday
On Burra Deen – the Big Day of Christmas.