Sounding Through The Trees: Vivek Narayanan

Vivek Narayanan as a child in Zambia, wearing his favorite spaceman suit (courtesy of Vivek Narayanan)

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As a child, Vivek Narayanan sensed the enormity of the world in the tall grass of his backyard. Before he could read, he discovered that words made shapes and patterns with their sounds. Today, the cadences of languages he once knew orchestrate his dreams.

Vivek Narayanan is a poet who constructs new topography for language, unconstrained by space and time. His words play, twist, and dance, honoring our erratic relationship with the many worlds we inhabit, and rejoicing in what will always be unknown. Vivek’s own center is a shifting one. He was born in Jharkhand, India, learned to walk in Tanzania, came of age in Zambia, furthered his education in the United States, taught anthropology in South Africa, wrote books of poetry in Delhi and Chennai, and most recently relocated to Fairfax, Virginia. In his poems, far-flung places live side by side, and the lines that demarcate our identities are pleasurably unreliable.

Vivek’s two books of poetry are Universal Beach and Life and Times of Mr. S. He regularly publishes critical writings in Indian newspapers, and co-edits the press and literary journal, Almost Island. He also works with Sarai-CSDS, a Delhi-based organization that encourages interdisciplinary and creative reflection on the contemporary global city.

We spoke with Vivek at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where our conversation traversed through childhood quirks, the importance of irrationality, and the writer’s unearthly intuition.

This piece was first published in The Fuschia Tree, Issue 21, Folly: A Wise Fool, March 2013. Click here to view the original publication. 

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