Date: 26th March 2020
Extent: 120 pp
BIC Code: DCF
Included in The Guardian Review 'Best recent poetry collections' May 2020
An outcast, an outsider, an oddball. With too much ambition and not enough talent, Saffron Jack has never fitted in wherever he’s been. Now, with the feeling that his time is running out, he needs to do something drastic to change his life. So what better idea than to run away to the nearest war zone, and within the bullets, destruction and fighting do the thing he’s always wanted to do: start his own country and declare himself king...
At once an exploration of a man left hollow by fate, a dispatch from the frontline of identity politics, and a rumination on the legacy of migration and empires, Saffron Jack is the story of a man trying to find somewhere he might be himself. Using an innovative form, Rishi Dastidar’s long narrative poem boldly updates Kipling’s ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ to confront one of the most pressing issues our fractured world faces today – how can we live together in peace if we exile the most vulnerable in our societies and deny them a place to belong?
“A bravura meditation on crown and country, borders, and what it means to belong.” - Niven Govinden
“It’s exciting to see what a poet already celebrated for their high-concept execution within individual poems can achieve when they have the courage to. The wide canvas of Saffron Jack allows Dastidar to untether his imagination and uses its permutational form to gather momentum and force as it zooms in and out on the titular antihero and his doomed and self-justified quest. Urgent, caustically funny and provocative – compulsory and deeply enjoyable reading.” – Luke Kennard
Rishi Dastidar’s poetry has been published by Financial Times, New Scientist and the BBC amongst many others. His debut collection Ticker-tape is published by Nine Arches Press, and a poem from it was included in The Forward Book of Poetry 2018. A member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, and a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine, he also chairs the London writer development organization Spread The Word, and is editor of the final part of the Nine Arches Press writers’ trilogy, The Craft: A Guide to Making Poetry Happen in the 21st Century.