Dothead: Poems

Amit Majmudar. Knopf, $26.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-101-94707-4
With the ghosts of the motherland, along with the sins of the father, unafraid to cross oceans or centuries, Majmudar (The Abundance: A Novel), a poet, novelist, and radiologist, ponders how much of a person’s identity is influenced by environment and how much is defined by nature. Aided by his unforgiving eye and a seemingly effortless ability to electrify his images, he composes a portrait of humankind that exposes its overreliance on the persuasive strength of fear. For example, the collection’s title poem finds Majmudar exploring early feelings of otherness when thrown against a whitewashed monolith. The white kids tease the young speaker about his Indian background, specifically his mother wearing a bindi. In retaliation, he takes ketchup and applies a makeshift bindi to his forehead: “the red planet entered the house of war/ and on my forehead for the world to see/ my third eye burned those schoolboys in their seats.” He deviates from his usual character sketches to play with forms both common (sonnet, elegy) and unusual (abecedarian), even combining a sonnet and ghazal into a “sonzal.” But throughout Majmudar keeps focused on one task: exposing what he views as the hollow American claims to being a “melting pot,” as only those who appease the fickle identity of an American are guaranteed their own freedom. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/21/2016
Release date: 03/29/2016
Paperback - 128 pages - 978-1-101-94709-8
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