by Vanesha Pravin
University of Chicago Press, 2015
Paper: 978-0-226-23536-3 | eISBN: 978-0-226-23553-0
Library of Congress Classification PS3616.R388D57 2015
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6


Cambridge, MA, 2008
Midsummer. Finally, you are used to disappointment.
A baby touches phlox. Many failures, many botched attempts,
A little success in unexpected forms. This is how the rest will go:
The gravel raked, bricks ashen, bees fattened–honey not for babes.
All at once, a rustling, whole trees in shudder, clouds pulled
Westward. You are neither here nor there, neither right nor
Wrong. The world is indifferent, tired of your insistence.
Garter snakes swallow frogs. The earthworms coil.
On your fingers, the residue of red pistils. What have you made?
What have you kept alive? Green, a secret, occult,
Grass veining the hands. Someone’s baby toddling.
And the phlox white. For now. Midsummer.

A remarkable first book, Disorder tells the story, by turns poignant and outrageous, of a family’s dislocation over four continents during the course of a hundred years. In short lyrics and longer narrative poems, Vanesha Pravin takes readers on a kaleidoscopic trek, from Bombay to Uganda, from England to Massachusetts and North Carolina, tracing the path of familial love, obsession, and the passage of time as filtered through the perceptions of family members and a host of supporting characters, including ubiquitous paparazzi, amorous vicars, and a dubious polygamist. We experience throughout a speaker forged by a deep awareness of intergenerational, multicontinental consciousness. At once global and personal, crossing ethnic, linguistic, and national boundaries in ways that few books of poetry do, Disorder bristles with quiet authority backed by a skeptical intelligence.

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