After: Vivek Narayanan in Conversation with Alice Oswald

Vivek Narayanan, one of the most distinguished Indian poets of the present day, performed sections from After (NYRB, 2022), his collection of poems inspired by Vālmīki's Rāmāyaṇa, which he describes as a “reinvention or rewiring”—a reanimation—of the foundational Asian epic. Following the performance, Vivek expanded on issues relating to translation, epic, orality, and chorality in conversation with Professor of Poetry Alice Oswald and the audience. The conversation was chaired by Prof Matthew Reynolds.

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Vivek Narayanan teaches poetry in the MFA program at George Mason University. His books of poems include After (New York Review Books, July 2022), Universal BeachLife and Times of Mr S. 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 PoetryThe Paris ReviewChimurenga ChronicGranta.comPoetry Review (UK), Modern Poetry in TranslationHarvard ReviewAgniThe Caribbean Review of Books, Aroop and elsewhere, as well as in anthologies like The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem and The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poetry.

Alice Oswald is Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford. Oswald is the author of 11 collections of poetry. She often works in book-length projects and is known for her interests in gardening, ecology, and music. Her collection Memorial (2011), a reworking of Homer’s Iliad, has received high critical praise for its innovative approach and stunning imagery, and won the 2013 Warwick Prize for writing. Oswald’s many honors and awards include an Eric Gregory Award, an Arts Foundation Award for Poetry, a Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, and a Ted Hughes Award. In 2019, she became the first woman to be appointed as Professor of Poetry.