Tishani Doshi interviews, reviews & books of the year choices for A God at the Door
'A God at the Door is angry yet playful, wide-reaching in its considerations, yet laser focussed in its detailing. The judges enjoyed its riches and its rebellion. moving between traditional verse forms and innovative new presentations, each executed with stunning technical fluidity. This remarkable collection is published by Bloodaxe.' - Forward Prize Judges
Poet, novelist and dancer Tishani Doshi's fourth collection A God at the Door spans time and space, drawing on the extraordinary minutiae of nature and humanity to elevate the marginalised. These poems, taken together, traverse history, from the cosmic to the everyday. A God at the Door was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2021.
A God at the Door follows two previous collections with Bloodaxe. Tishani Doshi's third collection Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Summer 2018. It followed on from Everything Begins Elsewhere, published by Bloodaxe in 2012, and her debut, Countries of the Body, winner of the Forward Prize for best first collection. Tishani is of Welsh/Gujarati descent (her third collection was dedicated to her Welsh mother) and she currently lives on a beach in Tamil Nadu, Southern India.
Tishani Doshi devised a powerful twenty-minute dance sequence to her poem 'Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods' and performed this at venues across the UK and Ireland in 2018. She was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award 2018 for Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods and for her accompanying dance piece. More here. Tishani danced for many years with the renowned choreographer Chandralekha, with whom she performed internationally.
Tishani was in the UK in May 2022 to read at the Hay Festival. Videos of past events with Tishani Doshi are here: https://www.bloodaxebooks.com/events?articleid=789
Tishani Doshi wrote an article for The Guardian of 3 July 2021 about why poetry is considered so dangerous. It appeared as a double-page feature in the Review section, and is online here.
'In India the author of a viral poem about the pandemic has been demonised. Around the world, from Myanmar to China to Iran, poets are flogged, imprisoned, even murdered. Why is poetry considered so dangerous?'
A narrative essay by Tishani Doshi on poetry and dance features in the second print issue of MONK, an international magazine exploring creativity and spirituality. Illustrated with stunning photographs of Tishani Doshi dancing, and of her mentor, the late choreographer Chandralekha. Near the end Tishani writes about the two sisters who danced in the streets during plague time in 1629 – a story which she also recounts in her poem ‘Contagion’ from A God at the Door. The article is entitled ‘Dance Transforms Us’.
The piece was published as a twelve-page feature in Issue 2 of MONK in October 2021, and is now available online here.
ESSAY ON BBC RADIO 3 BY TISHANI DOSHI
The Essay: Double Vision, BBC Radio 3, Monday 26 September 2022, 10.45pm
Tishani Doshi recorded a piece for BBC Radio 3’s The Essay at the BBC Contains Strong Language Festival in Birmingham. It was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 26 September. In this beautiful piece about her Welsh/Indian upbringing, Tishani speaks about how this dual heritage has impacted her writing.
"I often wonder whether it’s because my mother is so reticent about her memories that Wales exerts this power over me. If it’s because she didn’t speak to us in Welsh, her first tongue, that I use language as a way to bridge worlds, make meaning. I have stopped thinking of Wales as a place I need to discover. I know I won’t find it. There will be no back to the roots journey for me. That seems too much of a settler colonial mentality, of wanting to know by conquering. I know that Wales will always be my other, that I will write stories and poems that stand strongly in Indian mud, but around them, there will be space and breath, a particular shift of light that cannot be explained, and all of that will be Wales." - Tishani Doshi, The Essay
'Tishani Doshi is the first of five poets to share the dual perspective afforded to their life and writing by their links to the Commonwealth. The Indian writer and dancer Tishani Doshi considers the impact of her mother’s upbringing thousands of miles away in the UK and how her imagination returns to the exotic idea - of a row of small terraced houses in the seemingly endless summer nights of Wales. Her essay was recorded at the BBC's Contains Strong Language Festival in Birmingham.’
Listen via BBC Sounds here.
RADIO INTERVIEW WITH TISHANI DOSHI
The Verb at Hay, BBC Radio 3, Friday 3 June 2022, 10pm
Poet and dancer Tishani Doshi was a guest on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. The episode was recorded in front of an audience at the Hay Festival on 27 May, and was broadcast on 3 June.
Tishani read her poems ‘Cell’ and ‘The Comeback of Speedos’ from A God at the Door. She contributed to the discussion at various points in the programme.
Two Bloodaxe poets read poems for The Verb’s ‘Something Old, Something New’ feature marking the BBC’s centenary. A recording of Gwyneth Lewis reading her poem ‘Ancient Aunties’ at the Hay Festival in 2004 was played, and Pascale Petit read her new poem ‘Swallows’, which was commissioned by The Verb. Gwyneth Lewis has just been awarded an MBE for her services to literature.
‘Ian McMillan is always at home in front of a crowd, and in this programme, recorded at the Hay Festival, he is joined by some of our most exciting writers, performers and poets to explore the idea of homeliness - literal or metaphorical and to ask if writing can be a kind of home. His guests are: the poet Lemn Sissay whose latest book, for children, is a celebration of curiosity and belonging - by Monica Ali who casts her eye across family matters in her new novel 'Love Marriage' - by Daniel Morden (a consummate storyteller and performer, acquainted with all the myths of belonging), and Tishani Doshi whose poetry and prose is alert to the possibilities of a home - in the poem or in the body.
Also in the programme - a brand new poetry commission by Pascale Petit, winner of the inaugural Laurel Prize for nature poetry - written especially for the BBC's centenary, part of our 'Something Old, Something New' series, and you can also hear a poem from the archive by Gwyneth Lewis - former National Poet of Wales.’
Tishani features at 5:23, 14:52 (main interview) & 32:00. Gwyneth’s poem is played at 34:46. Pascale reads her poem from 37:15.
Listen via BBC Sounds: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0017m8r
TISHANI DOSHI PIECE ON BBC RADIO 4's FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT
Tishani Doshi contributed an item to BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent on 27 November 2021. She has also written about refugees in A God at the Door.
‘When the writer, Tishani Doshi accepted a temporary academic post in Abu Dhabi, she did not expect to end up helping refugees there. But Abu Dhabi has taken in more than eight thousand Afghans, who fled when the Taliban took over their country. One day, Tishani got a call, asking if she could lend them a hand.’
Tishani Doshi features from 22:34. Listen here.
POETRY BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Rishi Dastidar chose three Bloodaxe titles for his poetry books of the year feature in The Guardian of 4 December 2021. Tishani Doshi was one of the poets pictured in the print edition, and her fourth collection A God at the Door one of the books pictured in the illustration heading the online version. Collections by Penelope Shuttle and Hannah Lowe were also featured.
‘A generous mix of cosmic myth and earthy wit, Tishani Doshi’s fourth collection, A God at the Door, is wise and profound, with the lightest of touches…’ – Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian (Best poetry books of 2021)
Read the feature in full here.
‘A God at the Door brings mixed tidings: responses to harrowing recent events in Indian poet Tishani Doshi’s home country, but also strange disjunctions, offbeat humour, flashes of hope.’ – Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph (Christmas Books, 2021)
Available in full by subscription here. Register to read for free. Tristram Fane Saunders also chose books by Tishani Doshi and Jenna Clake for his Christmas round-up.
‘Tishani Doshi’s A God at the Door was this year’s standout poetry collection for me. It’s a rich and fearless extravaganza of a book, outward-looking, engaging with global crises and news stories with passion and panache. These poems go far beyond reportage – each vignette is transformed into an expansive but compressed bomb. Dealing with subjects as wide-ranging as the shooting at a maternity clinic in Kabul, or the iconic photo of a tigress hugging a tree in Manchuria, the results are packed with fury, outrage, and humour. Sometimes the poem resembles the shape of its subject, so that the form on the page is like an exquisitely fired urn containing an explosion.’ – Pascale Petit, Ars Notoria (Poetry Books of the Year 2021)
Read the full poetry books of the year feature in full here.
Tishani Doshi was featured as Poet of Honour in Ars Notoria on 2 March 2021. Read the feature here.
A God at the Door was one of the titles pictured in the Poetry School's Poetry Books of the Year feature of 14 December 2021. See here.
BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Three Bloodaxe collections were chosen by members of The White Review’s editorial team as their books of the year. Books both old and new were chosen for this feature. Tishani Doshi’s fourth collection A God at the Door, Rebecca Perry’s second collection Stone Fruit and the late Danish poet Inger Christensen’s alphabet (translated by Susanna Nied) were all recommended.
‘The poets I love with all my heart have new collections this year: Tishani Doshi (A GOD AT THE DOOR, Bloodaxe), Claudia Rankine (JUST US, Penguin) – I feasted on them.’ - Meena Kandasamy, The White Review (Books of the Year, 2021)
Read the feature in full here.
A God at the Door was longlisted for the Valley of Words Literature & Arts Festival's 2022 Book Awards in the category of English Fiction in June 2022. The shortlist will be anounced in July. Valley of Words is an international arts and literature festival that takes place in Dehradun, India. More information about the Awards can be found on the festival website. The Indian edition of A God at the Door is published by HarperCollins.
Tishani Doshi’s poem ‘Species’ from A God at the Door was read and discussed by Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama on the US podcast Poetry Unbound from On Being on 8 October 2021. The book is published in the US by Copper Canyon.
‘… as well as being a clever and funny poem, it plays with time, and it sees today through the lens of the future, for whom we’ll be history. And so therefore, she’s doing something very, very interesting about the present.’ - Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound podcast
The poem and transcript of Pádraig Ó Tuama’s thoughtful analysis are featured on the Poetry Unbound website. Press ‘play episode’ to listen to this wonderful podcast.
‘Homage to the Square’ from Tishani Doshi’s fourth collection A God at the Door was featured in Carol Rumens’ online Poem of the Week column in The Guardian of 31 May 2021.
'This week’s poem is from Doshi’s newly published collection, A God at the Door, and shows her conscience and imagination continue to be global travellers... Doshi’s poems confront a range of oppressive regimes and political leaders, speaking out with fluent oratory in defence of the powerless.' - Carol Rumens, Poem of the Week, The Guardian
Tishani writes that the poem was commissioned by the Wayne McGregor Dance company and written as a response to the choreography “Borderlands,” which in turn was influenced by the Bauhaus artist, Josef Albers, and his colour-perception theories.
Read the poem feature here.
Bookanista featured two shaped poems from A God at the Door on 16 April ahead of Tishani's joint Bloodaxe launch reading on 20 April 2021.
‘Tishani Doshi’s latest poetry collection A God at the Door spans time and space, drawing on the minutiae of nature and humanity to elevate the marginalised. Taken together, playfully eclectic in form and metre, the poems traverse history, from the cosmic to the quotidian, taking inspiration from the world at large to bestow power on the powerless, deploy beauty to heal trauma, and enable the voices of the oppressed to be heard with piercing clarity.’ – Bookanista
Read the feature here.
A God at the Door was reviewed by Aingeal Clare in The Guardian's best recent poetry round-up. It ran in the print edition on 3 April 2021, and can be read online here.
'The poems of Tishani Doshi’s A God at the Door operate on the grand scale, reaching for visionary responses to their often troubling subjects. They etch articulate outrage deftly on to ecological backdrops... everywhere these poems are caustic and comic in turn, “unbelted, unbuttoned”, shimmering and bright. Though “hope is a booby trap” in the war-ravaged landscapes, it is nevertheless offered up and renewed throughout this stunning and ambitious collection.' - Aingeal Clare, The Guardian
A God at the Door was well reviewed in the TLS’s poetry round-up of 25 June 2021. Almost all of the review is available to view without subscription here.
‘In A God at the Door, Tishani Doshi etches incisive, luminous portraits of humanity into landscapes where the grim and the comforting are frequently interchangeable…These poems delve into the conflicts between disaster and renewal and between past and present. They are tender enquiries rather than resolutions.’ – Nikita Biswal, Times Literary Supplement
Tishani Doshi’s A God at the Door was very well reviewed by Jennifer Lee Tsai’s ‘What’s new in poetry’ column in the summer 2021 issue of Mslexia magazine.
‘As its title suggests, Doshi’s fourth collection explores human and divine worlds with characteristic grace, style and wit... Doshi’s style is characterised by a tremendous fluidity and vitality. Her eloquent writing demonstrates an astonishing range of free verse suffused with both playfulness and fury… A powerful and timely collection from an accomplished poet who effortlessly traverses history, space and time to reflect on ‘the difficulty of reconciliation’ (‘Hope is the thing’) in these coronapocalyptic times.’ – Jennifer Lee Tsai, Mslexia
Online by subscription only. More here.
An excellent review of A God at the Door was included Issue 4 of The Alchemy Spoon, September 2021.
‘This is a fine and complex collection, a collection for our time, offering challenge, anger and beauty, posing big questions, but offering no simple or comfortable answers.’ – Diana Cant, The Alchemy Spoon
The magazine is available in print, but the issue can be read on Calameo here (page 88).
Tishani Doshi’s fourth collection was given an early review in DURA ahead of her Round Table event at StAnza International Poetry Festival on 12 March 2021.
‘A God at the Door is eloquent on a list of necessary and pressing topics everyone in society has a stake in: feminism, issues of class, poverty, faith, love, science, disease, war, and of course the current coronapocalypse. Each of the six sections embraces monumental themes that can be read as both a wakeup call to life and a firm hug that says not to be afraid, ‘living is a thing we do together’. - Mhari Aitchison, DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts)
Read the full review here. Mhari also interviewed Tishani for DURA. Read the interview here.
BBC WORLD SERVICE INTERVIEW
The Cultural Frontline, BBC World Service, Saturday 27 March 2021, 5.06pm (repeated several times in different time zones)
An interview with poet, novelist and dancer Tishani Doshi aired on a dance-themed edition of The Cultural Frontline on 27 March. She was talking about the interplay between poetry and dance in her creative work, and read her poem 'Contagion' from her fourth collection A God at the Door.
A clip of her reading the title poem of her third collection Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods to an instrumental soundtrack specially composed by musician Luca Nardon was played. This was the track to which Tishani performed the dance piece she devised for her 2018 tour. Tishani spoke about how this dance aimed to reclaim the lost voices and bodies of all the women who have been killed or subjected to violence.
Tishani has also been asked to write an essay for a future edition of the programme. She’ll write and read a piece about turning violence against women into women writing against violence.
'For the award-winning poet and dancer Tishani Doshi, sometimes words aren’t enough to convey the power of the female body, or the anger she feels when it’s violated. It’s then that her poetry ‘demands choreography.’ She tells how she fuses verse and movement and how a year without performance has affected her practice.'
Listen here. Tishani Doshi interview begins 6:20.
ONLINE INTERVIEW WITH TISHANI DOSHI
An in-depth interview with Tishani Doshi is online at DURA. She was speaking to Mhari Aitchison about her poetry, fiction and creativity during lockdown. Read the interview here.
'I think that writing is essentially mysterious – which ties into the spiritual nature of it. Where do these ideas come from? How do you begin a poem? I have been doing it for years now and every time that I haven’t written a poem in a really long time, I still think “how did I do that?” I think that is really important – to have the continued mystery about writing. But I want to be looking. I don’t want to just be there. I want to feel a sense of journeying and a sense of seeking – those are important to me and always have been.' - Tishani Doshi, in DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts)
POET OF HONOUR FEATURE IN ARS NOTORIA
Tishani was featured as Poet of Honour in Ars Notoria on 2 March 2021. With three poems from her fourth collection A God at the Door. Illustrated with photos of Tishani dancing the piece she devised to accompany her 2018 Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods tour. Read the Poet of Honour feature here.
MY LIFE IN BOOKS INTERVIEW IN IRELAND'S SUNDAY INDEPENDENT
Ahead of her event at Mountains to Sea festival on 27 March 2021, Tishani shared her Life in Books with Ireland's Sunday Independent. Read the feature here.
INTERVIEW WITH TISHANI DOSHI IN TELEGRAPH TRAVEL
The Telegraph, Travel section, Saturday 2 January 2021, online 7 January 2021
Poet, novelist and dancer Tishani Doshi was interviewed for ‘The Holiday that Changed Me’ feature in The Telegraph’s Travel section. Publication was pegged to her forthcoming collection A God at the Door. Tishani wrote about how a student trip to Italy led to her becoming a poet.
Click here to read. Available in full by subscription. Register to see a few articles for free.
2021 IN BOOKS FEATURE IN THE GUARDIAN
The Guardian, 2021 in Books, Saturday 2 January 2021
Tishani Doshi’s forthcoming fourth collection A God at the Door was one of two poetry choices for April in The Guardian’s books to look forward to in 2021 feature of 2 January.
‘The witty, wise and clear-eyed novelist, dancer and poet deploys both rage and sharp analysis covering issues from the precarious state of the environment to the treatment of women.’ – The Guardian (2021 in Books)
Click here to read the full feature.
BOOKS OF THE YEAR CHOICES FOR GIRLS ARE COMING OUT OF THE WOODS
‘Tishani Doshi’s third collection, Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, chillingly conjures an uprising of dead women who refuse to be silent victims of male violence... Elsewhere, there are frank and moving poems about the experience of ageing and pressures on women to reproduce, as well as a playful imagined meeting with a young Elizabeth Bishop in Madras and an ode to Patrick Swayze.’ – Sandeep Parmar, The Guardian (Poetry Books of the Year 2018)
‘Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods is one of the rare poetry collections that wholly captivates its reader from page to page. It absorbs its reader through tides of rage, defiance and peace; line by line it swells with Doshi as she experiences the every day, the violent, the unjust.’ – Beth Cochrane, The Skinny (Best Books of 2018)
'I’ve already read Tishani Doshi’s poetry collection Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods but I know I’ll return to it many times. One of the poems talks about poets ‘holding the throat of life/ till all the sunsets and lies are choked out/ till only the bones of truth remain’ - that’s precisely what Doshi does in this intelligent, elegant, unflinching collection. It’s very much a collection for this moment in history, but one that will endure long past it. ' - Kamila Shamsie, The Guardian (Best Summer Books 2018)
PRINT INTERVIEWS WITH TISHANI DOSHI
The Guardian, Saturday 27 July 2019
A four-page feature based on an interview with Tishani Doshi ran in The Guardian of 27 July. The piece was pegged to her new novel, but began with a discussion of her third poetry collection Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods. The feature was illustrated with a colour photo of Tishani’s dance performance of the title poem ‘Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods’, for which she was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2018.
“The idea of the body, usually the female body, has always been central to my work. My precise preoccupations might change over time, but I’ve always been interested in how the body connects to the wider world, which is then linked to questions of belonging, and what is meant by concepts such as ‘home’ and ‘elsewhere’. In particular I have long been thinking about what it means to live as a woman in India. My most recent novel and poetry collection were written at the same time and share certain themes – although they are handled differently – in relation to women. Most obviously around safety and danger.” – Tishani Doshi, The Guardian
The Welsh-Indian poet, dancer and writer talks about the realities of life for women in Tamil Nadu and her hit poem Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods:
Mslexia, June-August 2019
An interview with Tishani Doshi featured in the June/July/August issue of Mslexia, the magazine for women who write. Tishani was interviewed by Sandeep Parmar, who reviewed Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods in The Guardian in December 2018. Click here to read the review.
‘A sense of longing, and belonging, inhabit all three of Doshi’s poetry collections, as do multiple geographical sites – South India, Wales, England, Italy, places both imaginary and real.’ – Sandeep Parmar, Mslexia
Sample pages available here.
RADIO 4 INTERVIEW WITH TISHANI DOSHI
Front Row, BBC Radio 4, Monday 21 May 2018, 7.15pm
Poet and dancer Tishani Doshi kicked off her UK & Irish tour with an interview on Radio 4’s Front Row. She was talking about and reading from her new collection Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods. Shei read her poem ‘When I Was Still a Poet’ in the introduction, and then read an extract from the opening poem ‘Contract’ in the main interview (with a bonus poem 'Ode to Patrick Swayze' on the podcast.
‘Poet, writer, and dancer Tishani Doshi talks about her new poetry collection, The Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, which was inspired in part by the murder of a close friend. The poems consider how women's bodies are treated, and explore themes of anger, love and loss as well as ways to find hope and strength in the modern world.’
Listen here. Available to download as a podcast (Tishani reads an additional poem on the podcast).
PODCAST INTERVIEWS WITH TISHANI DOSHI
Scottish Poetry Library, podcast interview online 17 October 2018
A half-hour podcast interview with Tishani Doshi is on the Scottish Poetry Library’s website. She was interviewed when she was in Edinburgh for the final reading in her three-month UK and Irish tour. She was talking to Colin Waters about her third collection Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, and read and spoke about her poems ‘Contract’, ‘Ode to Patrick Swayze’, the title poem and finally ‘A Fable for the 21st Century’ from it.
She talked about writing poems that address violence against women during the MeToo era, how comfortable she is to describe herself as a poet, and why Patrick Swayze is worthy of an ode. She also spoke about her career as a dancer.
‘Tishani Doshi's third collection Girls are Coming Out of the Woods (published in the UK by Bloodaxe) is one of the great collections of 2018.’ – Colin Waters, Scottish Poetry Library
Click here to listen.
Guardian Podcast, online Friday 1 June 2018
Tishani Doshi was interviewed on the Guardian podcast with Claire Armitstead and Sian Cain, recorded at the Hay Festival. She read the title poem from her new collection Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods and then spoke about the background to the poem.
‘The Indian poet Tishani Doshi spoke in a series of sessions at the Hay Festival this year. Claire was so impressed with her, after an event with Salman Rushdie, that she nabbed her to give us her take on the #MeToo movement by a reading of the title poem of her new collection.’ – Sian Cain
‘Poet Tishani Doshi gives an impassioned response to the problem of violence against women in India.’
Click here to listen. Tishani Doshi features from 31.12.
'It's impossible not to cheer the boldness and liberation enacted by much of this book, and to be stirred by its bravery. To paraphrase one interviewer, Doshi is writing the anthems of her generation.' - Sandeep Parmar, The Guardian
Read Sandeep Parmar's review in The Guardian in full here.
'Tishani Doshi’s Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods is an unflinching, tender, witty and wise collection of poems about danger, memory, beauty, time and tide, and transient but treasured joy. I catch up with her at the start of a marathon book tour that takes her from London and Newcastle to Ireland and Cornwall and many points in between.' - Mark Reynolds, Bookanista
Read the interview with Tishani Doshi on Bookanista here.
Vanity Fair, Ten Questions with Tishani Doshi: read the interview here.
You can watch Tishani's reading at the Hay Festival here. Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods was the Hay Festival's Book of the Month for October 2018.
[08 January 2021]