I am an immigrant, activist, long-distance son, teacher, and person of color living in America. I create voice to tell others’ stories and my own with the integrity and fire they deserve. My day job working to protect the civil liberties of America’s many underclasses is one way I move that work forward; my writing and teaching are another. My poetry explores identity, belonging, and power in a world where the body is flung across borders yet possesses unrivaled power to transcend them. I tell stories of mythology and technology, transformation and love.
My upbringing informs my voice. I grew up around the world, experiencing change—sometimes cataclysmic—in societies as diverse as the USSR, the Maldives, India, Yugoslavia, Thailand, South Africa, and of course, the United States. I have worked in prisons on three continents, exchanging ideas with those incarcerated by their societies. I frequently interact with the architects of the technological revolution that is transforming all of our futures.
I write to memorialize, to witness moments of beauty and terror, to connect with the divine, to bridge the chasm between my two homelands, and to survive the madness of the world. I hope to build a community that perseveres and even thrives.
Select Literary Awards, Fellowships, Publications, and Readings
Four-time Pushcart Prize nominee (2013, twice in 2017, 2018).
Winner, Iowa Sweet Corn Prize in Poetry, 2017.
Winner, Paper Nautilus Debut Series chapbook competition, 2017, for Postcards from the New World.
Awardee, 4Culture artist grant for project Making Space, focused on raising voices of writers of color in Seattle, 2017.
Kundiman Fellow, nation’s premier fellowship focused on Asian-American writers, 2016.
Kundiman Northwest Co-Chair, 2017-18.
Made at Hugo House Fellow, developing works around themes of race, technology, and mythology, 2016-17.
Frequent featured reader at city- and statewide events, including Seattle LitCrawl, Open Books, Hugo House, WordsWest, Jack Straw Writers, Cascadia Poetry Festival, Seattle Public Library, Seattle Central College, Inland Poetry Prowl, Duvall Poetry Series, EasySpeak, and elsewhere.
Featured at readings focusing on issues impacting disempowered communities, including multiple readings for Race—Under Our Skin issue of Raven Chronicles, Kundiman reading at Seattle LitCrawl 2016 focused on communities of color, and Resistance and Immigration for WordsWest in March 2017.
Shankar Narayan explores identity, power, mythology, and technology in a world where the body is flung across borders yet possesses unrivaled power to transcend them. Shankar is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, winner of the 2017 Flyway Sweet Corn Poetry Prize, and has been a fellow at Kundiman and at Hugo House. He is a 4Culture grant recipient for Claiming Space, a project to lift the voices of writers of color, and his chapbook, Postcards From the New World, won the Paper Nautilus Debut Series chapbook prize. Shankar draws strength from his global upbringing and from his work as a civil rights attorney for the ACLU. In Seattle, he awakens to the wonders of Cascadia every day, but his heart yearns east to his other hometown, Delhi. Connect with him at shankarnarayan.net.