Vivek Narayanan

Vivek, drawn by Dyuti Mittal

Vivek Narayanan was born in India in to Tamil-speaking parents and grew up in Zambia. He did undergraduate and graduate study in cultural anthropology and creative writing at Stanford and Boston Universities respectively, taught at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, and currently lives between India and the United States. Narayanan’s books of poetry include Universal Beach (Mumbai: Harbour Line, 2006; re-issued, in a new US edition by ingirumimusnocteetconsumimurigni in 2011) and Life and Times of Mr S (HarperCollins, 2012).

A full-length collection of his poems in Swedish translation was published in 2015 by the Stockholm-based Wahlström & Widstrand. 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) as part of work for his ongoing current project, an experimental “writing through” of the Sanskrit of Valmiki’s Ramayana.

Narayanan is also the Co-editor of Almost Island, an India-based international literary journal, forum and publisher founded in 2007. Through ongoing formats like Text As Material, he has tried to reinvent the design of the creative writing workshop, imagining it beyond conventional pedagogy as a more open-ended, inter-media mode of collective and compositional art practice; and he has extensively explored conceptual approaches to the performance of poetry—such as in its potential intersections with technology, physical space, movement, site-specific projects and audience interaction—partly through a series of works in collaboration with the filmmaker Priya Sen, the musician and composer Maarten Visser, the sound artist Sophea Lerner, the dancer and choreographer Padmini Chettur, the conceptual artist Laura Napier and others. In the mid-2000s, Narayanan was part of Sarai-CSDS, a seminal New Delhi-based organization that brought together visual artists, social scientists, writers, public intellectuals and others to reflect inventively on new and old media forms and the contemporary global city.

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  1. […] Vivek Narayanan is a poet. For the last six years he has been working on a project involving aspects of translation practice focused on the oldest Sanskrit epic poem. Narayanan calls the project a “writing through” of the work. Initially he thought this would be a quick project but it turned into a deep dive involving four volumes of work. […]

  2. […] Vivek Narayanan is a poet. For the last six years he has been working on a project involving aspects of translation practice focused on the oldest Sanskrit epic poem. Narayanan calls the project a “writing through” of the work. Initially he thought this would be a quick project but it turned into a deep dive involving four volumes of work. […]