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After is a collection of poems inspired by Valmiki’s Ramayana, one of Asia’s foundational epic poems and a story cycle of incalculable historical importance. But After does not just come after the Ramayana. On each successive page, Vivek Narayanan brings the resources of contemporary English poetry to bear on the Sanskrit epic. In a work that warrants comparison with Christopher Logue’s and Alice Oswald’s reshapings of Homer, and Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, Narayanan allows the ancient voice of the poem to engage with modern experience, initiating a transformative conversation across time.
In this session, Vivek Narayanan is in conversation with Mani Rao and Arshia Sattar. A Q&A with the audience will follow.
Vivek Narayanan is the author of three acclaimed books of poetry. His poems, stories, translations and critical essays have appeared in journals like Poetry, The Paris Review, Chimurenga Chronic, Granta, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Caribbean Review of Books, Poetry at Sangam and elsewhere, as well as in anthologies like The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem and The Penguin Book of Indian Poets. Narayanan has been a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University (2013-14) and a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library (2015-16). He currently teaches in the MFA program at George Mason University, where he also sits on the boards of the Cheuse International Writers’ Center and Poetry Daily.
Mani Rao has ten poetry collections, three books in translation including Saundarya Lahari and Kalidasa for the 21st Century Reader, and an anthropology of mantra-experience: Living Mantra — Mantra, Deity and Visionary Experience Today. A new edition of her translation of Bhagavad Gita will be released this year from HarperCollins. Featured in the Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry in English, Mani has poems and essays in Poetry Magazine, Wasafiri, Meanjin, Iowa Review, Indian Literature, Penguin Book of the Prose Poem, and other journals and anthologies. She has held writing residencies at IPSI Canberra (2019), Omi Ledig House (2018) and IWP Iowa (2005, 2009), has an MFA in Creative Writing from UNLV, and a PhD in Religious Studies from Duke University.
Arshia sattar has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and works with myth, epic and the story traditions of the sub-continent, most especially with the Valmiki Ramayana. She also writes for children and in 2022, her Mahabharata for Children won the national Sahitya Akademi award for Children’s Literature.