Sridala Swami’s Escape Artist offers a diviner’s eloquent testimony to survival in a world of dissolving certitudes, precarious relationships, transcontinental mobility and political cataclysm. Transiting between the vivid latitudes of delight and the austere geometries of mortality, these poems map the dilemmas of the bodied self. Poised, subtle, luminous, Swami’s poetry clothes the ephemera of everyday life in an intimate tangibility and secures them against the insistent attritions of history and nature. The finely gauged frame is Swami’s chosen instrument. Through it, she effects surprising juxtapositions of myth and contemporary experience, investigates whether the finality of extinction is preferable to the self-parody of repetition, revisits Paul Celan’s cryptic notations, Odilon Redon’s enigmatic images, Abbas Kiarostami’s deceptively quotidian cinema, and pays homage to that re-discoverer of lost myths, Giorgos Seferis. At the core of Escape Artist is a visceral awareness of what words can do: they can induce ‘temporary insanity’, voice ‘inaudible stories’, and remind us that ‘the measure of love is not loss but residue’.