A collection full of tenderness, hope and a search for beauty, Where Stories Gather is Karuna Ezara Parikh’s first book of poems where the writer-poet delves into a more personal realm, asking and answering questions of identity, memory, womanhood, and the heart.
A curation of her most popular work alongside new material, this collection marks her as a poet of the fragile human condition, with poetry that is urgent and lyrical, intimate and fiery, empathetic and hopeful. This collection is poetry at its lyrical and political best and a must read for our times when reading can be cathartic and healing and at the same time, informing and shaping our opinions, while helping us make sense of the fractured reality we find ourselves in.
We've selected five of our favorite poems from the collection:
is just fierce
Do the bone work.
Ask yourself –
What am I feeling?
Will this break me or is that creak
just the sound of my skeleton
stretching to make room
for my soul’s swelling?
In the Days of Separate Lives
And so I learnt how to live without your laughter,
because it meant I could live without always being late.
I learnt to put on a nice dress and comb my hair
even if I was alone,
because if a tree falls in the forest
and there is no one there to hear it
a tree has still fallen in the forest.
I learnt to grow so large I could fill a bed
which earlier you and I and all our dogs
and every one of our sadnesses never could.
I learnt that one single person rising all alone
can grow to fill what two people falling out of love
together could never.
We used to lie on opposite ends
three feet of bedsheet
an impossible ice desert to cross.
We used to lie entwined like ghosts.
I have now learnt the solitude
of lying in my own arms.
I have learnt to be firm,
to repaint the edges of my body
that had disappeared like vapour in search of stars.
Today I am so vast I turn whole rooms into my own.
Sometimes at night I wake scared and small.
I take a sip of cold water and expand again.
I am a giant and I am filled with nothing but my own love.
Some days I break down
But some days, I break even.
(Balancing my books.)
We were not made for this world
you with your love of the stars,
me with my compassion
for the changing moods of clouds.
We should move to a cottage on a hill somewhere,
grow tomatoes, sow stories, watch two-toned dahlias
come up around us for air.
We should sleep nights by a river,
or even the sea,
argue over whether water sounds more like bells or cymbals.
I want to worry over your insect bites,
adopt stray mountain dogs,
sassy ginger seaside cats,
and cultivate comical chickens
we later won’t have the heart to eat.
We weren’t made for this,
these tall cities of mainly smoke.
We were made for orange trees and summer breeze
lives so free
we forget the weary weight of our feet
and give our bodies over
to life’s extraordinary stream.
Karuna Ezara Parikh is a poet and writer, former television anchor and model known widely for her activism. She has written for Vogue, The Wire, Tehelka, and Lonely Planet amongst others. She is the co-founder of the sustainable company, The Burlap People, and is based out of Kolkata. Her novel The Heart Asks Pleasure First was published in 2020.