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Review: Sonata for Four Hands, by Amarjit Chandan

Tim Liardet, Poetry Review Vol.100:2, Summer 2010

One of the more intriguing elements of Amarjit Chandan's Sonata for Four Hands is that some of the poems here provided in their original Punjabi form have been translated into English by the poet himself, stepping through two linguistic mirrors to re-contact the original vision with startling immediacy:

Roots make me think of my forefather Dhareja -
The root of my family tree.
His roots are flowing in my veins.
I am the seed of that root [...]


There are six other translators at work in this book and most of them manage to negotiate the Punjabi into an English diction so stripped of surplus that purpose is laid bare: The wall disappears / when you hang a picture on it. A precariously-tilted universe, viewed from ground level and unlike any other, is achieved in the barest minimum of words: He smiled at me / The man with ten shadows.