English, Apocalypso – Jeet Thayil


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Many of the poems in English are set in New York City around the events of September 11, 2001. In the faux prologue poem ‘About the Author’, the narrator finds himself ‘on Sixth, watching ruin, with / a handful of rain and a prophecy’: a citizen of no country except the republic that gives the book its title, the Republic of English. Here, English is more than a language. It is a river of the world.


Jeet Thayil’s first full-length collection, Apocalypso, is a gritty, intense exploration of love and its secular limits. Song-like rhythms offer Biblical imagery and a lyric view of the wild side. Detached, tough, and vulnerable at the same time, the raw, intimate poems in this collection point towards the work that would follow. They examine and lay bare the mystery of love–its heartbreak and exaltation, and its redemptive, enduring power.
Everybody betrays everybody, you said
somebody said.


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