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Karuna Ezara Parikh’s 'Where Stories Gather' encapsulate emotions

The new collection of poetry is a treat for all senses

Shrestha Saha | Published 09.12.21, 03:25 AM
Karuna Ezara Parikh and her book Where Stories Gather

Karuna Ezara Parikh and her book Where Stories Gather

Picture: Nayantara Parikh

Karuna Ezara Parikh, whose novel The Heart Asks Pleasure First released last year, has been writing poetry far longer. She recalls writing her first poem at the tender age of six-seven but never thought herself equipped to compile it into a book. However, she kept writing, putting up a scrap here and a thought there, using social media as a tool while casually stepping over the ubiquitous ‘Instagram poet’ label. Perhaps because she wrote intermittently but always with heart and intent. However, her collection of poems of varying lengths and topics have now been compiled into a book Where Stories Gather (Rs 399; HarperCollins India) was released recently and they encapsulate the undeniable pain, happiness, joy and worries of our times. Always a master of words, Karuna is a former television anchor and model who moved to Kolkata and made the city her home in the last few years. We spoke to Karuna about her creative process. Excerpts… 

Tell us about the inception of this book.

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I think I’ve always had the poems waiting within me, some scribbled, some desperate to escape me. A few years ago Swati Daftuar (my editor) at HarperCollins India got in touch and asked if I would like to put my poetry together in a book. My answer was an immediate yes, but I was in the middle of writing my novel (The Heart Asks Pleasure First) and very embedded in that work at the time. As a result the poetry book took years to get published and in a way I’m glad it did — this would have been a very different book without the journey of the past few years.

Writing poetry vs writing fiction — could you please reflect on your process?

I found the vast scape of a novel difficult. Plot and arc and character development — the practical concerns of the novel seemed very complex to me after the whimsy that poetry sometimes affords. Or so I thought. But when I sat down to put together Where Stories Gather, an entire book of poems, I found myself equally overwhelmed. The geometry of a poetry collection is perhaps even more obtuse. That said, I think the common thread for both is that golden delight of words.

What are your writing habits like?

They’re less habits and more fits and starts, urges, dances, drownings. I sit with thoughts a long time before I write. Some writing calls for pen and paper, some for the typing hand. I listen to what the piece of writing wants or needs. What speed it requires and what taste. When I write it’s usually a passionate stream of words where I am desperately gushing words as fast as I can. Then I write all day. I’m not a 500-words-a-day-at-your-desk person sadly, I’m a 4,000-words-in-bed-one-Monday one.

Why did you choose to name it Where Stories Gather?

It’s a line from a poem in the book, but it also felt of the earth (which I think Rhea Gupte reflected beautifully in the cover). It also felt interactive to me — not just my stories but the readers. I liked the anonymous location of the ‘where’.

What are you working on next?

I’m not sure what it is. I don’t have a name for it but I’m very interested in humour, satire, wilder writing, the edges of sentences — blending poetry more with the novel form and, of course, as always — new ways to tell stories from this country.

Last updated on 09.12.21, 11:30 AM
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