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Indran Amirthanayagam – The Artist’s Role

Amirthanayagam LEP&W Octb 2020

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Indran Amirthanayagam writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Haitian Creole. He has 19 poetry books, including The Migrant States (Hanging Loose Press, 2020), Sur l’île nostalgique (L’Harmattan), and Lírica a tiempo (Mesa Redonda, 2020); in music he produced Rankont Dout which is available to download from music stores; edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly; writes a poetry column for Haiti en Marche; won the Paterson Prize; is a 2020 Foundation for the Contemporary Arts fellow.

The Artist’s Role

The manufacturer of bonsai takes pride in miniature houses, gardens
and villages. The perfection of details. Doorknob in exact proportion
to the door as in the real life model. Work of a master craftsman.
Mistress of fine inlays. But while the artist labors politicians
are booming in the battle of light against darkness. The Manichean
satisfaction, dual, competing, warring states of the soul laid out
in opposing camps. What role does the miniaturist play? Will
his knobs and latches correspond to the real life models
no matter who wins political power? Can we continue
to make light and gladden hearts while the virus kills
and one gang  leader tries to steal the democracy, unmasked?

Written on The Wall

We are walking on water, Woman. Kamala, Lakshmi,
Senator. With you and Joe we are going to go as far
as the eye can see, as deep as the ear can hear.
We are going to go beyond Mars, and plumb the depths
of the heart. We are going to find the right step to cut down
on the hot and burning air of our times. We will right
the ship, rev up the silent green motor. And we will
have fun as we kick the presidency of Covid back
into the tower and up the gold-plated, gimcrack staircase.


We are starting to roll. We are coming to you
through the internet. And when the weather is right,
masked, we are coming to your door. We will ring
the bell, then step back six feet and wait for you
to pick up the leaflets we have left in your mailbox.
And we will wait for you to open them up and look
over at us and ask,why did you take so long…as you
tell us that you have had your bag packed but
you will not go anywhere except for the ballot box.
Not now. The current occupant has gone too far,
broken every rule and every dream. And we are
going to post them back, on the walls, on columns,
and in the official residence of our dreams, the house
of the people we will rescue at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

©Indran Amirthanayagam