Icelight by Ranjit Hoskote
Weselyn University Press, March 2023
Icelight, Ranjit Hoskote’s eighth collection of poems, enacts the experience of standing at the edge—of a life, a landscape, a world assuming new contours or going up in flames. Yet, the protagonists of these poems also stand at the edge of epiphany. In the title poem, we meet the Neolithic cave-dweller who, dazzled by a shapeshifting nature, crafts the first icon. The ‘I’ of these poems is not a sovereign ‘I’. A questing, questioning voice, it locates itself in the web of life, in relation to the cosmos. In “Tacet,” the speaker asks: “What if I had / no skin / Of what / am I the barometer?” Long committed to the Japanese mono no aware aesthetic, Hoskote embraces talismans, premonitions, fossils: active residues from the previous lives of people and places. Icelight is a book about transitions and departures, eloquent in its acceptance of transience in the face of mortality.
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