Event: Bricolage II

Title of the lecture: “Give Me a Home that Isn’t Mine”

Speaker: Arundhati Subramaniam

Date: March 1, 2021

The reading and conversation with award winning Indian poet Arudhathi Subramaniam, entitled “Give Me a Home that Isn’t Mine”, was divided into three sections: a short preliminary discussion with the moderator, the reading of poetry, and the Q & A session.

The session began with a discussion on the context of her poetry, where Subramaniam elaborated on the theme of belonging, the figure of the “female vagabond”, and the “conscious drama” of Bhakti poetry. Subramaniam also touched upon the evolution of her own poetic style and language over time, and observed how her own lived experience of inhabiting different worlds has shaped her poetic output. As to the reading of poetry, the pace at which the poem is read and the way an individual poem lends itself to reading were discussed.

The next section of the event consisted of Subramaniam’s reading of poems selected by the research scholars of the organizing committee of Bricolage II. She read poems like “Home”, “Madras”, “To The Welsh Critic Who Doesn’t Find Me Identifiably Indian” “When Landscape becomes Woman”, and others, in two parts. Interspersed between the readings were questions asked by the audience pertaining to myth, the poetic figure, and the figure of the city in her poems.

In this Q and A session, we discussed the importance of reading the poem first in terms of its “image rather than its avowed intent”, before launching into larger thematic forays and categorisations of the poem. The poem reaches, Subramaniam said, “from the singular to the plural…to the universal”, and added that “images are wiser than we are”, and can take us to places unforeseen in the reading and writing of poetry.