Transformation is the underlying theme of Sujata Bhatt's new collection, the title deriving from a mystical being with skin that is 'pure lizard'. The natural world is ever present in these poems; monkeys, crickets and bats reappear in new incarnations, and a field of organic sunflowers in Pennsylvania is juxtaposed with sunflowers grown out of the toxic soil of Chernobyl. "Pure Lizard" also documents artistic exchange in its many forms: Schiller's desk is taken to Buchenwald during the Second World War, and Jane Eyre haunts a laboratory in Baltimore. There are poems in response to music by composers as varied as Telemann, Bob Zieff, and Philip Glass, as well as a poetic correspondence with the Welsh writer Gillian Clarke about a writer's sense of home and place, to be broadcast by BBC Radio Drama. Sujata Bhatt is one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary poetry. She is, the New Statesman declared, 'one of the finest poets alive', and alive in a unique way to issues of politics and gender, to place and history, to different cultural and linguistic traditions.
Sujata Bhatt was born May 6 1956 in Ahmedabad, India and raised in Pune, India. She has lived, studied and worked in the United States, and is a graduate of the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. She has published three collections of poetry with Carcanet, England and Penguin Books, India: Brunizem (1988) won the Alice Hunt Barlett prize and the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, (Asia). Monkey Shadows (1991) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. She received a Cholmondeley Award in 1991. In Spring 1992 she was the Lansdowne Visiting Writer/Professor at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She now lives in Bremen with her husband, the German writer Michael Augustin, and their daughter, where she works as a freelance writer.