Rajiv Mohabir

Rajiv Mohabir (Poetry) | Opelika, AL

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Rajiv Mohabir is the award-winning author of the poetry collections The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books, 2016) and The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press, 2017). His awards include the Kundiman Poetry Prize  the 2015 AWP Intro Journal award, and a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant. His poetry and translations appear internationally in Best American Poetry 2015, Quarterly West, Guernica, Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, Drunken Boat, Poetry Magazine and many other places. He received his MFA in Poetry and Translation from Queens College, CUNY, a PhD in English from the University of Hawai`i, and works as an Assistant Professor at Auburn University in Alabama.

Books

I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (Kaya Press, 2019). Translation.

The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press, 2017). Kundiman Prize. Poetry.

The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books, 2016). Poetry.

Blurbs, Press, & Reviews

The Cowherd’s Son

“Languid fire or tumultuous storm, mythic cow herder or drunken Queens teenager — these poems by Rajiv Mohabir will not let up and won’t let you go. Be fierce, dear reader, and join him in celebrating the queer, colored diaspora that begins in the gut and continues in the heart. Mohabir is one of the most urgent poets to break into the scene. Hands down.”
—Kimiko Hahn

“In this Kundiman Prize winning follow-up to 2016’s The Taxidermist’s Cut, Mohabir continues to demonstrate an uncanny ability to compose exacting, tactile poems that musically leap off the page. These poems modulate between tales of Hindu deities, recollections of history and folklore: these are complicated family dynamics, queer intimacy (‘My love tasted of sea/ and relics’), acts of resistance, and accounts of shifting geographies and displacement. Mohabir’s candid work is steeped in the realities of being a mixed-caste, queer Indian-American; his speaker sings these lived experiences into verse–moving between pleasure, sensuality, hunger, alienation, and injury: ‘It shocks me to dream my body/ as a cut pomegranate.’ Mohabir even uses the quarter rest symbol from sheet music in the breaks between sections to make explicit the collection’s musical nature and the poetic silences the work necessitates. Each of the book’s seven sections approaches identity from a different angle, including that of the ancestral grief passed down through the Indian indenture system and chronicles of conquest and empire channeled through the mythical El Dorado. Mohabir offers much to appreciate, and even among the strife he records, there is a yearning for and pursuit of joy: ‘In this building of shattered whispers// I say your words at night to taste you.'”
Publishers Weekly Starred Review

The Taxidermist’s Cut

“Rajiv Mohabir’s debut collection is electric with fierce love—animal, erotic, obliterating—the hard and soft always bruising and buffing each other…. This new voice is primal, essential….”
—Brenda Shaughnessy, Judge of Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry

“In his excellent debut, Mohabir exposes desire and inner turmoil through the measured incantations of a queer, Indian- American voice that refuses the burdens of a homophobic and racist world. He eloquently describes how the brown body survives, clinging vigilantly to longing, lust, and love… Mohabir illuminates his own wounds, and as the reader watches him dresses and stitches those wounds, ‘A queer flutter knocks about your ribs.'”
Publishers Weekly

 

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