OPEN ACCESS: RANJIT HOSKOTE
Posted on June 14 2020
We're delighted to share another extract from our members' PBS Summer Bulletin. Here, PBS Recommendation Ranjit Hoskote describes the influences behind The Atlas of Lost Beliefs:
"I was born and grew up by the sea, in Bombay and Goa on India’s west coast. The Atlas of Lost Beliefs is animated by the sea, its histories of migration, the way it acts as a crucible for new languages, new identities. My starting points for this book come from the pluriverse I inhabit as a writer and reader across languages, cultures, and periods. Among these are Melville’s Moby-Dick and Saint-John Perse’s book-length poem, Anabase, translated by TS Eliot in 1930 as Anabasis, as well as the Martiniquais philosopher Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of Relation, and René Char’s La parole en archipel. I’ve also been nourished by sources outside poetry, by pre- and non-Columbian maps such as those of al-Idrisi, Piri Reis, and Zheng He, cartographers and navigators in whose work I have long been immersed. Another point of departure for me is the muraqqa, the album prized by the Safavid, Mughal and Ottoman visual cultures. It was part portfolio, part scrapbook, part journal, binding together original paintings, prints, calligraphic annotation, and text. In ‘Cargo and Ballast’, different voices, extracts from judicial documents, maritime records, the phantom of a Turner painting, and popcultural references, all come together into a muraqqa that mourns the victims of the slave trade: “If you’re healthy, the plantation. / If you’re sick, the cutlass or the sharks. / You’re cargo. / You could so easily / be ballast.” The Atlas of Lost Beliefs opens up to accommodate silences and erasures, the word visible yet cancelled, voiced yet unvoiced, perhaps to be rendered sotto voce.
PBS Members can read the full interview in the Summer Bulletin or order a copy of The Atlas of Lost Beliefs with their 25% PBS Member discount here.