I am delighted that a poem from this collection, ‘Mrs Basu leaves town’ has been chosen to be part of the British Secondary (GCSE and A Level) English literature syllabus. The poem will be included in the ‘Unseen’ Anthology of the EDEXCEL syllabus showcasing Indian diasporic poets.
Some photos from the book launch of A Dinner Party in the Home Counties held at Rhode Island Coffee in Altrincham and the Poetry Cafe in London.
Wonderful to have such warm support and turnout and honoured to read alongside such acclaimed poets as Mimi Khalvati, Todd Swift, Rishi Dastidar and Yogesh Patel.
Reviews of A Dinner Party in the Home Counties & Interviews
“Ruia’s ability to tell an entire story with a tiny number of words is astounding. Where in other poetry collections I’ve stumbled along in a fog of confusion, here I was devouring each line with countless forking emotions.”
Book Odyssey. Read the full review here.
“Witty, energetic and uncompromising, Reshma Ruia’s latest collection challenges contemporary social, racial and cultural divides. In this collection, the poet takes the reader on a vivid, multicultural journey filled with intriguing encounters and enigmatic characters.”
Jennifer Wong, Asian Review of Books. Read the full review here.
An interesting discussion with the novelist Elaine Chiew about how gender, age and ethnicity can define and oversimplify the narrative.
“Sharply observed mini stories that don’t always lead you where you expect.”
Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone. Read the full review here.
“Ruia’s poems cover all these different themes of diaspora life but not with half the brazenness of prose. Instead, her delicate, precise, subdued and muted observations of the everyday unravels exactly how alienation, even assimilation takes place through a series of poetic, resonating and striking images.”
Jaggery: A DesiLit Arts and Literature Journal. Issue 15: Spring 2020. Read the full review here.
“A rich feast that conveys a wonderful variety of voices and ideas.”
Featured book in Desi Reads. Read the full review here.
“Ruia’s collection is richly textured, political and timely. There is an edginess to many of her poems, with the odd sprinkle of tenderness, all filtered through a candid lens and well-crafted verse…
In the wake of a divisive Brexit referendum, ushering us out of the EU and saddling us with a government that barely disguises its disregard for people of colour, this collection is a poetic ode to the undervalued people who keep this country running.”
Joy Francis, Executive Director, Words of Colour Productions. Read the full review here.
“The themes throughout maintain a timeless relevance and Reshma’s fresh new perspective delivers important messages with simplicity, yet with purpose.”
Mita Mistry, Eastern Eye Newspaper, 13 March. Read the full review here.
“Using poetic verse to paint vivid pictures of modern life: Reshma Ruia on inspirations, experiences and emotions that helped colour her new book”. EasternEye, 2 April. Read the full interview with Mita Mistry here.
‘’Being a writer of fiction, Ruia brings in the efficient precision of observation of prose, while not losing the rhythm of poetry. Without undue sentimentality, the poetic voice remains true.”
Mona Dash, Confluence February 2020 issue. Read the full review here.
“This collection was a joy from start to finish.”
Tracy Fell, The Literary Pig. Read Tracy’s wonderful blog post about my poetry collection.
The Manchester University’s Centre for New Writing review of A Dinner Party in the Home Counties.
“You will be pleased at discovering award winning poet Reshma Ruia. Her voice is intimate and confident. Her poetry shines bright. Reshma lures the reader into her world through a vivid imagination. From the empty bed of an accountant to the code of 1947 Reshma’s skill is in how she paints pictures with words which become whole landscapes and scenes in one’s imagination. She ignites the reader. I feel I am reading someone whom everyone will be reading in future. Read her now! “
– Lemn Sissay, MBE, Winner of the Pinter Prize for poetry, 2019 and author of ‘My Name Is Why.’
“It is highly unusual, and therefore incredibly exciting, to read post-colonial poetry that can best be described as quirky, even playful. In this strange, provocative and often powerful collection, form, content and style create difference and otherness, they don’t just explore it thematically. Every time you think you’re reading yet another poem about identity or the shape of current Britain, you realise you’re simultaneously in the presence of a witty, clever and original writing-mind. I found myself wanting to simply say, despite the humour, important messages, and striking imagery, I really like this – because it’s the exact opposite of whatever stale, obvious, is.”
– Todd Swift
“Reshma Ruia has an enviable knack of finding the telling detail in the scenes she so vividly portrays: the overheard fragment of conversation, the image creeping into the eye line, the interaction that lasts a moment and yet a lifetime too. In deceptively simple language, Ruia’s poems remind us how often we are strangers to others – and ourselves as well.”
– Rishi Dastidar
“There’s a fierce energy in Reshma Ruia’s poetry. Her incantatory and conversational tone belies her social and human concerns. Her rhythmic control is amazing, sustained in her assertive voice and language. This debut collection everyone should read—the sooner the better. Captivating!”
– Cyril Dabydeen
“I have been fond of Reshma Ruia’s short stories for a while now and so was delighted to learn that she has recently published her debut book of poetry, ‘A Dinner Party In The Home Counties’. The poems in this book are based on the theme of belonging and/or displacement. Most poems, I could relate to and others I could empathise with.
The poems are categorised into ‘Beginnings’ , ‘The Space Between’ and ‘Endings’. However, this doesn’t stop the reader in mentally changing these categories or doing away with them altogether. This perceived freedom is a result of Reshma’s writing where the words lucidly flow through the pages and quietly capture one’s imagination. A few lines across poems are so poignantly expressed that I had to re read them in order for them to sink into my consciousness e.g. From the poem ‘An Empty Milk Bottle’ – ‘The children grown up and gone, feathering their own nests’, and ‘…..can’t quite understand how and why a life crammed so full of living and loving became so stripped. So bereft of meaning. An empty milk bottle, idling on the doorstep’.
Some poems moved me to such an extent that I found it difficult to articulate this impact. I believe it was the clarity of language that did this – ‘put it out there’, so to speak. Take for e.g. this verse from the poem Pomology “…..You still have your fruit. But it’s no longer the season.”. The poem Brexit Blues in its entirety is so well written, the last verse especially so. It made me reflect even further on Britain’s current political situation which maybe best described as grim.
A few other poems made me question the status quo that we sometimes learn to accept as beings in our adopted land e.g. accepting certain behaviour from people only because we need a particular job or want to be accepted into the cultural mainstream as much as possible e.g. the poem, ‘Inside Edward Hopper’s Diner’. I believe that the poem ‘A Dinner Party In The Home Counties’ rightly deserves its place as the title of this collection as it dares to challenge the many stereotypes associated with diversity.
Overall, this is a cleverly crafted collection of poems. I am certain that every time I re read these poems, their meaning will change shape in accordance with my life circumstances at that given moment and this, is the beauty of expression that Reshma Ruia has masterfully achieved in her debut collection.
A Dinner Party in the Home Counties has been chosen as a notable poetry collection by the Huffington Post.