Basmati Brown

Basmati Brown: paths, passages, cross and open

Published in 2000 by Nightwood Editions

Written mainly during the poet’s travels through India, Basmati Brown represents a spiritual and social journey through Punjabi cultural roots while retaining a clear connection to a home in British Columbia. Phinder Dulai’s poems have the ability to seduce with liquid words, caressing the reader with Punjabi rhythm and speech pattern in harmony with English voice. Basmati Brown is beautifully illustrated with evocative black-and-white photographs from both India and Canada. Dulai is a poet to watch, receiving high praise from talented Canadian writers such as Michael Turner and George Bowering. With just his second book of poetry, Dulai is already carving a name for himself in the Canadian literary scene.

from the Nightwood Editions website

poem from Basmati Brown


if a rock fell on me
i wouldn’t be too surprised

i have found elephant
footprints on my journeys
the quiet kafuffle of a cosmic joke
played at my expense

i have heard
the crunching and chewing
of cashew nuts
i have been your night’s entertainment

you are right
i deserve it
never take pictures
of elephants in india


“Here is a real made book … performance poetry, rich nouns, a montage of material for a world you probably haven’t seen yet. With puns and jabs, Dulai memorializes his heritage — and wrestles it to the ground.”
—George Bowering


“I’ve travelled this book very closelyfrom the “then-and-now” of India and the West, via anger and compassion, through caste and class and kind and stateall the while convinced that I am in the hands of a skilled writer/musician, one whose plausible geometry speaks to the contemporary experience that is being of two (or more) places at once.”
—Michael Turner


basmati brown takes you constantly by surprisesweet surprise, angry surprise, the surprises of concern and compassion replete with the insight of questions asked because they can no onger remain unanswered…the reader will come to understand the pleasure of discovery.”
—George Szanto