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Setting the Page
An Extraordinary Achievement of Excellence as a Poet
Bobby Nayyar was born in 1979. He read French and Italian at Trinity College, Cambridge. He has been published in the Mango Shake and Too Asian, Not Asian Enough anthologies, and journals including Wasafiri and Aesthetica.
He founded Limehouse Books in 2009, publishing his debut novel, West of No East in 2011, and The No Salaryman two years later. Glass Scissors is his debut poetry collection.
He lives in London
Patrons: Lord Parekh & Lord Dholakia
Word Masala Award
I've sat before this page for 36 years,
Watching it pixelate from paper and ink,
My eyes now reinforced by glass,
My mind broken two times,
My heart three,
I stare into its screen
Until all I see are
Blades of ice slicing my past.
My hopes and fears,
Like layers of clothing
Worn on a day turned warm.
I'll sweat knowing that
Will decay into the afterlife of words.
Ad through the pain of my wounds self-
The loves lost and found repeatedly,
The dirt of work
And strength of family,
The words rise.
And now I realise
That this page was never blank.
© Bobby Nayyar
(From Bobby Nayyar's debut collection, Glass Scissors, published by Limehouse Books, 2016.}
Writing is as much an exploration of form as an exploration of my self. In my mid-
Glass Scissors encompasses twenty years of living, ten years of thinking and eighteen months of writing. I find it hard to define my work because I feel like I am always changing from day to week to year. Another writer gave me some perspective, when she wrote that my poems summon ‘the missing and the lost … the invisible lost (invisible culture, invisible illness, wanting).’ I am comfortable with this description.
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‘Bobby Nayyar’s debut collection, Glass Scissors, is a haunting, deeply personal collection. It explores universal themes of love and loss, in which the turbulent and fragile sit side by side. More than just a compilation of poems, it’s a revelation of one man’s hopes and dreams, and of the precarious nature of the world we live in.’
Farhana Shaikh, The Asian Writer
Glass Scissors reviewed by Raj K Lal:
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Guest Editor’s Comment
(For Bobby Nayyar)
We people in glass
houses live in dread of stones.
You have picked your way,
wincing, through the shards of life.
You found your way -
© Debjani Chatterjee
Rarely does a debut poetry collection show such remarkable promise. That is why Glass Scissors is an exciting find. Having selected his short stories a decade ago for the award-
In an 'Author's Note', Nayyar writes: 'The beauty is in the truth', a paraphrase of Keats' observation that truth is beauty and beauty truth. This may be considered by some to be a trite remark, but truth is for me the outstanding feature of Nayyar's poetry. His book is an exploration of his past and he finds that in the process deep memories have surfaced, often painful ones:
... the past is no place.
It is a broken mirror
Splinters of glass in my feet,
Hurting more when I walk,
So I run and bleed.
But they surface also for the reader, and surely that is the test of poetry -
One way in which Glass Scissors resembles a novel is its author's recommendation that the book is read in sequence. This is not normally how a poetry collection works: most poetry readers like to dip into a book, often at random. And, in fact, Nayyar's advice is only relevant if one wishes to trace the route and steps of his life's journey; one can still dip into his book and savour a poem at random because each poem can stand alone, as every poem must.
While Nayyar accepts the label of 'writer', he won't call himself a 'poet. It is a loaded word'. Yet there is music in his words, they paint a picture and set a scene; they are 'loaded' words -
Dr Debjani Chatterjee MBE