Book Review: The Necessity Of Geography by Trivarna Hariharan

Imagine you’re in a train station. It’s past midnight and icy cold and you’re all alone. You’re reading a collection of poems in the flickering amber light, waiting for someone or something to happen, but it never does. You realize at that precise moment, what the language of the heart is, and how desperately it yearns to communicate.

Trivarna Hariharan’s chapbook is written in that imprecise language of the heart, conveying in exquisite metaphor and allegory, what mere words cannot, showing that the heart needs its words and vice versa.

There are ruminations on the dualistic notions of place-the poems navigate the murky hinterlands of our interior selves, as well as explore the exterior landscapes we are constantly shifting through in the dreams of an immigrant, in the recollections of a mythic landscape, in the rubble of a broken town, in the moments before leaving. Identity, both geographical and otherwise, prefigures strongly, as well as time and distance and the way our mind creates meaning out of abstraction.

Take for instance, the poem ‘Vocations’ which explore the nature of conflict and contradiction, through the predicament of a protagonist at war with his ideological conditioning. Compelled to be a timekeeper, the narrator remarks-

“this is how clocks work. By asking questions that don’t matter and trapping people in answers that they were never looking for. By wandering on their own, but letting everyone else be lost in the paraphernalia of their voyage.”

Or take a look at ‘Homeland’ where Hariharan’s carefully chosen words weave a tapestry of incredible beauty ( ‘An embroidery of a golden sun and azure feathers weaves itself into a patchwork of latent vernaculars, syllables of which sound like dawn falling on the eyes of fluorescent hills...), defining one’s home in an age of borders and barbed wires, quite simply as,

This is the place you’ve been looking for since you conditioned yourself to live away from a spatula of neatly arranged boundaries.

You don’t need to run anymore.’

Or take a look at ‘Identity’ brimming with imagery bordering on the surreal (‘Skies painted as hymns across the horizon’), full of anguish, disappointment and the inevitability of ending :

That’s when I knew you were a house with shut doors. I knocked for a long time – three years, five days, ten hours. One day, I saw you inside a maze of pulled-over blinds, your eyes breathing the sound of enough. Your face was the dust settling on forgotten bedrocks, a bruised sky holding a fistful of broken stars.’

Trivarna Hariharan’s chapbook contains prose poems, vignettes, and descriptions of verse that speak to the reader, in the language of the heart, the way the primal and poignant emotions of love and loneliness do. These interconnected poems are lucid, atmospheric and intensely accessible.

And trust me, when I say that her words will provide all the solace that you need.
Buy this beautiful book here !

An excerpt was previously published in the Cafe Dissensus Blog.

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