In a new, compelling poetry collection, What the Bird Tattoo Hides, Bohm arrives in rural India in 1968, "seeking truth's taste." His stories about many of its personalities, including outsiders and their hidden histories, reveal the daily lives of haughty Sundara, labor leader Dev Raj, Meeda Mama, and Dada who likes "a few rums / before supper," as they work, argue, celebrate, and raise their children, struggling to better their lives and sometimes taking up arms to fight for caste and class justice.
Bohm's work challenges the West's falsely exotic and colonial view of India. As he chronicles three generations in a single village, the author evokes a world that is both more haphazard and violent, and also more human and present, than one would otherwise have been able to imagine. Using sensuous, gritty, and stunning language, he confronts the nature of death and change, realizing that "Wherever the body is, and no matter / how unknown the locale, / it is home."
Robert Bohm is an army vet from the Vietnam period; he is married to Suman Kirloskar from India. His book In the Americas received the GLCA award for best poetry book by a new writer. His works also include his long anti-Iraq-war poem Uz Um War Moan Ode and collection Notes on India. He is a freelance writer.