In RENDANG, Will Harris complicates and experiments with the lyric in a way that urges it forward. With an unflinching yet generous eye, RENDANG is a collection that engages equally with the pain and promise of self-perception. Drawing on his Anglo-Indonesian heritage, Harris shows us new ways to think about the contradictions of identity and cultural memory. He creates companions that speak to us in multiple languages; they sit next to us on the bus, walk with us through the crowd and talk to us while we’re chopping shallots. They deftly ask us to consider how and what we look at, as well as what we don’t look at and why. Playing eruditely with and querying structures of narrative, with his use of the long poem, images, ekphrasis, and ruptured forms, RENDANG is a startling new take on the self, and how an identity is constructed. It is intellectual and accessible, moving and experimental, and combines a linguistic innovation with a deep emotional rooting.
Will Harris is a poet and critic from London. He was shortlisted for the 2018 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and won a Poetry Fellowship from the Arts Foundation in 2019. He is the author of the chapbook, All This Is Implied, and the essay Mixed-Race Superman, published by Peninsula Press in the UK and Melville House in the US. His poems have appeared in the Guardian, Granta, The London Review of Books, and the anthology Ten: Poets of the New Generation.