A description of boys flying homemade kites against the Jakarta dusk juxtaposes the past and future of globalised AsiaThis week’s poem, Kite-Flyers of Cengkareng by Iain Bamforth, uses an almost imagist technique, not only to present the eye with sharp, memorable scenes but to produce visual contrasts that suggest a larger moral statement.The poems in Bamforth’s globe-spanning new collection, The Crossing Fee, often begin with an act of naming or placing, as here. If, like me, you had never previously heard of Cengkareng, you need only read a short way into the first stanza to feel you’ve breathed its air. It’s an inconsequential place, as the parenthetical fourth line suggests – simply a collection of “shanties” beside Jakarta’s international airport, forming a drab intersection between poverty and wealth, demeaned tradition and unlovable modernity.The kites bring colour and vitality into this landscape. The first we see are designed to look like “dragons, dugongs and birds-of-paradise”. They are works of art, finely handmade, perhaps, and vulnerable compared with the “massive tonnage of the wide-bodied jets”. The phrase “masters of lift and drag” tacitly seems to equate the kite-flyers’ aerodynamic skills with those of the airline pilots nearby. But, because of the proximity …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books