InRagas of Longing, Sam Solecki offers the first book-length study of Michael Ondaatje's poetry and its place in his body of work. Relating the poetry to various poetic traditions from classical Tamil to postmodern, Solecki presents a chronological critical reading of Ondaatje's six volumes of poems. Among the study's concerns are the relationship between the poet's life and work, his poetic debts and development, his theory of poetry, and his central themes. Also present are close readings of Ondaatje's monographs on Leonard Cohen and Edwin Muir, the Scots' poet and critic.
Solecki suggests that Ondaatje's poetry can be seen as constituting a relatively unified personal canon that has evolved with each book building on its predecessor while simultaneously preparing the groundwork for the following volume. The author argues that Ondaatje's writing has a narrative unity and trajectory - a figure in the carpet - determined by crucial events in his life, especially the early breakup of his family and his subsequent exile from his father and place of birth. The result is a body of major poetry whose vision is post-Christian, postmodern and, despite an often humourous tone, fundamentally tragic.