Vivek Narayanan

Vivek Narayanan

Vivek Narayanan

Associate Professor

Poetry, World Poetry, Translation, Epic, Performance, Critical Writing on Indian and African Poetry in English, Interdisciplinary Practice & Theory

Vivek Narayanan was born in India to Tamil parents and grew up in Zambia.  He earned a master’s degree in cultural anthropology from Stanford University and a master’s in creative writing from Boston University.  He has taught at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and in the mid-2000s worked at Sarai-CSDS, a center for experimental practice and theory in New Delhi.  His books of poems include Universal BeachLife and Times of Mr S and, most recently, After (NYRB Poets, 2022).  A full-length collection of his selected poems in Swedish translation was published by the Stockholm-based Wahlström & Widstrand in 2015. He has been a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University (2013-14) and a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library (2015-16).  His poems, stories, translations and critical essays have appeared in journals like The Paris Review, Chimurenga Chronic, Granta.comPoetry Review (UK), Modern Poetry in TranslationHarvard ReviewAgniThe Caribbean Review of Books and elsewhere, as well as in anthologies like The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem and The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poetry.  Narayanan is also a member of Poetry Daily’s editorial board. He was the Co-editor of Almost Island, an India-based international literary journal from 2007-2019.


The artist credit for the image is Dyuti Mittal.

Current Research

The short poem.

Selected Publications

After. New York: New York Review Books, July 2022.  Indian edition: HarperCollins, September 2022. 624 pages.

Låt varje språk vara främmande —“Let Every Language Be Foreign”.  Translated by Erik Bergqvist. Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 2015. 208 pages. New and  selected poems in Swedish translation.

Life and Times of Mr. S.  New Delhi: HarperCollins, 2012.  Reissued January 2020. 112 pages.

Universal Beach (second edition).  Los Angeles / New York: Ingirum Imus Nocte et    Consumimur Igni, 2011. 77 pages.

Universal Beach (first edition).  Mumbai: Harbour Line Books, 2006. 76 pages.

Expanded Publication List

BOOKS:

 

After. New York: New York Review Books, July 2022.  Indian edition: HarperCollins,     September 2022. 624 pages.

            Reviewed (as of August 2022) in: Harvard Review Online, The Poetry Review      (London) and The Poetry Foundation (Harriet Books – Featured Book Review).

            “Rama,” “Manthara the Hunchback,” and “They Saw No Longer the Battlefield” reprinted in  Future Library: Contemporary Indian Writing, edited by Sampurna Chattarji and Anjum Hasan.  Red Hen Books, 2022, pp.148-150.

            “Shiva,” “Rama,” “Tataka,” “Ahalya,” “Ayodhya,” “Kaikeyi,” “Dasaratha,”          “Chitrakuta,” and “Ravana”  reprinted in The Penguin Book of Indian Poets, edited by Jeet Thayil.  Penguin Random House India, 2022. pp. 284-293.

            “Ayodhya.”  Reprinted in Poetry Daily, March 1, 2021, www.poems.com. 

Låt varje språk vara främmande —“Let Every Language Be Foreign”.  Translated by Erik           Bergqvist.  Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 2015.  208 pages. New and     selected poems in Swedish translation.

            Reviewed in: Dagens Nyheter, Sveriges Radio, SVT (Swedish television).

 Life and Times of Mr. S.  New Delhi: HarperCollins, 2012.  Reissued January

  1. 112 pages.

                Reviewed in: Chimurenga, The Quarterly Conversation, Biblio, Eyewear, Aiinanagar.    

            Partial subject of the essay, “‘A Form of Howling.  A Form of Chanting.  A Form of         Looking Out for Each Other’: Poetics and Politics of the Contemporary Indian- English Prose Poem,” by Divya Nadkarni, in Prose Poetry in Theory and Practice,           edited by Anne Caldwell and Oz Hardick .  Routledge, 2022, pp. 124-139.

            “Short Prayer to Sound,” reprinted in  The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem: From           Baudelaire to Anne Carson.  Penguin Classic, 2018.

 

 

Universal Beach (second edition).  Los Angeles / New York: Ingirum Imus Nocte et Consumimur Igni, 2011. 77 pages.

 

Universal Beach (first edition).  Mumbai: Harbour Line Books, 2006. 76 pages.

 

 

                        Reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly, Harriet (the blog of the Poetry Foundation),                   Harvard Review and The Hindu.

 

                        Discussed (pg. 253) in “The Contemporary Sonnet,” by Stephanie Burt, in The                  Cambridge Companion to the Sonnet, edited by A.D. Cousins and Peter                               Howarth.  Cambridge University Press, 2011.

 

                        “Ode to Cement,” reprinted in Poetry Daily, August 31, 2020,                                            www.poems.com.

 

                        “Deathwish,” “Fernando Pessoa in Durban,” “My Father’s Wound,” “The                          Sadness of a Dog.”  Reprinted in the online archive of the Poetry Foundation,                   2017, www.poetryfoundation.com.

 

 

POETRY – Selected First Publications in Anthologies and Journals, 2013 –Present:

 

“From ‘Poem Without Beginning or End.’”  Poetry, Volume 220, Number 2, May 2022, pp. 146-7.

 

“Through the Mahabharata's Last Journey.”  In Divining Dante, edited by Paul Munden and Nessa O’Mahony.  Recent Work Press, 2021, Woden, Australia, pg.145.

 

from The Rig Veda.  June 2021.  Specially commissioned translation for the front page of the journal Agni, Boston.  Will appear on the front page of all subsequent issues of      the journal.

 

“Elements of the Mask.”  Collaborative poem written with Vahni Anthony Capildeo.  In  

Poetry and Covid-19, edited by Anthony Caleshu and Rory Waterman.  Shearsman, 2021, pp. 56-65.

 

“Mother’s House.”  By Salma, translated from the Tamil by Vivek Narayanan, Marg,       December 2020, pp. 28-29.


 “Shiva,” “Ahalya” and “Ahalya.”  Granta.com.  July 16, 2020.

 

“Bosch's Garden 3.” The MUD Proposal / Kaurab, Themudproposal.kaurab.com. December 2019. 

 

from “Freestyles.”  Counter Poetry 2, edited by Ian Dreiblatt. October 2019. 

 

“Ravana.”  The Paris Review.  No. 229, Summer 2019, pp.40-41.

 

“The Three Birds.”  By Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo.  Translated from the French by Vivek   Narayanan.  Poetry Daily.  June  2019, poems.com .

 

“Ayodhya,” “Dhvanyaloka 1.14.”  Wretched Strangers: Borders, Movement, Homes.        Boiler House Press, 2018, Norwich, United Kingdom, pg. 190.

 

 “Nakedness,” “She, a Lotus Pond,” “Explosives,” “Chimera.”  Translation of four poems            by the Tamil poet Kutti Revathi, in collaboration with Padma Narayanan, with a           translator’s introduction to Revathi by Vivek Narayanan.  Modern Poetry in          Translation, Issue 1, 2017, pp.57-62.

 

“A Spectral Horse,” “Fish Tank,” ‘The Fiends That Fetter Us,” “Tigers.”  Translation of   four poems by the Tamil poet Kutti Revathi, in collaboration with Padma Narayanan.           Asymptote, Asymptotejournal.com, January 2017. 

 

“Dasaratha.”  Granta.com.  February 19, 2015. Part of Granta 130.

 

“Rama,” Tataka,” “Rama’s Servants,” “What the People Said,” “Chitrakuta,” “The           Jeweled Deer.”  The Oxford Poets Anthology 2013.  United Kingdom: Carcanet     Publications, 2013, pp. 131-141.

    

 

SCHOLARSHIP – Invited Forewords, Introductions and Articles in Edited Volumes,   2013 – Present

 

Foreword.  Random Harvest: Selected Poems and Prose, by Srinivas Rayaprol, edited by Graziano Krätli, Copper Coin, New Delhi, forthcoming, pp. i - viii.

 

"In Search of 1949," in Nights of the Dispossessed: Riots Unbound, edited by Natasha      Ginwalla, Gal Kim and Niloufar Tajeri. Columbia University Press, 2021, pp. 307-        329.  In the series, Columbia Books on Architecture and the City. 

 

“From the Language Question to the Question of Language: Three Recent Books of Indian          English poetry.”  Book chapter in A History of Indian Poetry in English, edited by    Rosinka Chaudhuri.  Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp. 407-422.

 

Introduction.  I Dreamt a Horse Fell from the Sky: An Adil Jussawalla Reader.  New        Delhi: Hachette Publishers, 2015.

 

The Oxford Companion to Modern Poets (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).           Contributed entries on six Indian English poets: Gopal Honnalgere, Ranjit Hoskote,   Shiv K. Kumar, Mani Rao, Srinivas Rayaprol, and Jeet Thayil.

 

 

SCHOLARSHIP / NON-FICTION – Essays in Journals, Websites and Newspapers, 2013- Present

 

“What Sparks Translation: Provisional Sentences Towards a New Manifesto of Translation Practice.”  Poetry Daily.  March 2021.

 

“What Sparks Poetry: On ‘Ode to Cement.’”  Poetry Daily. August 2020.

 

“What Sparks Poetry: On a Poem’s Re-entering History.”  Short essay on Bei Dao’s poem, “The Reply.”  Poetry Daily.  September 23, 2019.

 

“What Sparks Poetry: On Discovering Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo.”  Short essay for Poetry Daily.  June 3 2019.

 

“Reading Vijay Nambisan.”  The Wire, August 17, 2017.

  

“Turtles All the Way Down: Vahni Capildeo’s Utter”.  Caribbean Review of Books,         November 2015. 

 

“Ken Saro-Wiwa Wrote More Than One Book.”  Chimurenga (Cape Town, South Africa),          August 2013. 

 

SCHOLARLY OR CREATIVE WORK IN OTHER MEDIA OR MODES

 

  1. Encounters. Collaboration with the dancer and game designer Boris Willis; part of the exhibition Conjuring Presence at the Fenwick Gallery, George Mason University.   October 20 – December 11, 2021.

 

  1. “How Social Annotation Brings Back Close Reading and Transforms Your Class Discussion.”  On-demand video tutorial and overview of social annotation software      for classroom use.  Innovations in Teaching and Learning Conference Proceedings,          vol. 13 (2021).  DOI: https://doi.org/10.13021/itlcp.2021.3010 .  See video at:

 

  1. “Elements of the Mask.” Collaborative poem and poetry video with Vahni Anthony

Capildeo.

 

2018-20.  Desnos Machine.  Final version and publication on github, 2020.  Interactive   

web-based software, developed in collaboration with Michael Scharf, specifically as a pedagogical tool in my poetry classes.  Participants   use their devices to submit lines of poetry that are then combined in a randomized but also specifically structured way, to recreate collaborative writing experiments originally devised by Robert Desnos.

 

  1. Varnam by Padmini Chettur. Collaborative work with a contemporary dancer and choreographer.

 

2013- Present.  Insurrections.  India /South Africa.  A collaborative project between Indian          and South African musicians and poets.

 

  1. Videopoem: In the Early Days of the Delhi Metro. Poetry video made in    collaboration with the filmmaker Priya Sen. 

 

  1. Don’t Look Now. Sarai-CSDS, New Delhi.  A dark room revue incorporating        fragments of image, video, sound and live on- and off-site performance (including    poetry).

 

  1. The Indisciplinary Essay. Sarai-CSDS, New Delhi.  Taking Adorno’s “The Essay as Form” as a central provocation, this curated panel invited four eminent social     scientists and historians to reflect on questions of form, style and craft in their       writing. 

 

  1. If I vanish to Appear in Reykjavik. Nyhil Literary Festival, Reykjavik, Iceland.  Procedural poem and performance incorporating sound recording.

 

  1. Seven Crowds. Bronx Museum of Arts, New York.  Collaborative procedural work           with New York-based visual artist Laura Napier. 

 

2008.  I Heard It Is.  Khoj Studios, Delhi.  Collaborative performance with Bangalore-     based sound artist Sophea Lerner.

Grants and Fellowships

Mason Core Teaching Award: Spring 2019, Fall 2020.

Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars, New York Public Library.  2015-16 Fellow in
     Poetry. 

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard University.  2013-14 Fellow in
     Poetry. 

Courses Taught

ENGH 608 (Spring 2022): Craft Seminar —Research-Based Poetries

ENGH 564 (Fall 2023): The Forms of Poetry

ENGH 397 (Spring 2023): Poetry Writing

ENGH 685 (Spring 2023): Poetry and Translation

ENGH 608 (Spring 2022): Craft Seminar —Research-Based Poetries

ENGH 391 (Spring 2022): The Forms of Poetry

ENGH 617 (Fall 2021): Graduate Poetry Workshop

ENGH 494 (Fall 2021): Advanced Undergraduate Poetry Workshop

ENGH 397 (Spring 2021): Poetry Writing.

ENGH 396 (Fall 2020): Introduction to Creative Writing.

ENGH 202 / ENGH 316 (Spring 2019, Fall 2016, Fall 2020): The Ramayana: Many Lives of a South Asian Epic. 

HNRS 122 (Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021): 20th and 21st Century Poetry from Around the World. 

HNRS 110 (Fall 2017, Fall 2018): Introduction to Research. 

Text As Material (Fall 2011, Spring 2012).  Taught at Sarai-CSDS in New Delhi.  Innovative creative writing workshop for advanced practitioners. 

Introduction to Creative Writing (Fall 2002).  Taught at Boston University.

Historical Anthropology (Fall 1999).  Taught at the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa.  Graduate and senior honors-level course.

South Asian History (Spring 1999).  Taught at the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa.  Undergraduate course.

Education

M.A. (Terminal Degree), Creative Writing, Boston University, 2003.

M.A., Cultural Anthropology, Stanford University, 1995.

B.A., Summa Cum Laude, majoring in Peace Studies, Colgate University, 1992.