In Transitions, Bhopal creates tensions and highlights diversity. Much of her work pivots on issues of ethnic and gender identity, the language taking quirky and provocative directions.
At times, I imagine this to work more effectively in performance, where the heavy, full rhyme would provide dramatic emphasis and her fiery persona would bring them to life. Other pieces work wonderfully on the page, especially those that take a more lyrical turn.
My particular favourites are ‘With the Dead Under Me' I and II, where Bhopal's phrasing is stunning and strange: ‘Pushed together, pulled/apart there is now the warm permanent/character of the river bending back.' Bhopal does character and colour very well, from ‘Sushil' with her ‘unarmed smile' to the way ‘Monday' is ‘squeezed' by the throbbing crowd of London's Nottinghill Carnival. Her language is edged with both menace and humour as in ‘Dear Paul - Postcard' where the speaker is ‘driven from Moga in a bus packed with dynamite'.
Politically and personally aware, provocative and brave, though not always as polished and controlled as she could be, Bhopal is to be admired for her gusto, her passion and her flashes of linguistic insight.