ICF spoke to Vivek Narayanan on his new poems on the Ramayana. At a time when we are being told our classics can only be read in one sanctioned way, Narayanan’s poems add a subversive counter-current to the “mainstream” Valmiki Ramayana. In effect, the poems together indicate that plurality is central to Indian culture, just as the multiple retellings of the Ramayana make up one strong testimony to that plurality.
Narayanan also takes on the ways in which to read the political in poetry. Like the poet Mourid Barghouti who said “Palestine does not need a bad poem“, Narayanan also emphasises the importance of craft for a poem to be politically relevant.