The title—Coconuts on Mars as well as the cover photo of the book draws one’s curiosity to the contents of the book. It is not an easy read, as least not when you read it the first time but the book unravels beautifully only if you stay on a page for some time and breathe in the air that it wants you to feel and be a part of, even if momentarily. The idea of writing poetry is not only to capture everyday life or philosophize but to get down to the roots of it all; its etymology. Amirthanayagam’s book does not deconstruct words for us but explains why it becomes necessary to use words to identify oneself.
I will find language to translate myself across centuries, to say to the new
child, you are mine and blessed carrier of six million years of human history.
There is nostalgia present in Coconuts on Mars but the poet does not intend to use it as the only means to send his message across—the search for identification with familiar places, with familiar voices continues but not at the risk of losing oneself in the abyss of the past. The past resonates, yes, but not with the intent of turning one deaf.