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San Diego Poet Explores Immigration In 'The Flayed City'

Hari Alluri, author, "The Flayed City."
Cynthia Dewi Oka
Hari Alluri, author, "The Flayed City."
San Diego Poet Explores Immigration In 'The Flayed City'
San Diego Poet Explores Immigration In 'The Flayed City' GUEST: Hari Alluri, author, "The Flayed City"

This is KPBS Midday Edition I am Maureen Cavanaugh the themes of memory moving to different cultures and landscapes of the weight of masculinity run for the work of poet Hari Alluri. His parents are from India and the Philippines and he emigrated from Nigeria to Canada at the age of 12. He now lives in San Diego. His new book of poems the flayed city has received great praise including from the US poet laureate process the policy his words as a brush to create a holistic life escape. Hari Alluri joins me now. Welcome Hari. Thank you. About your book The Flayed City I often wonder if poets have an overarching theme for a buck if they have that idea or if the poems themselves create that theme. I think I work both ways. I am working on a project where I have thought of the Dean for a long time and I have gone and sat down to read the poems and in this case it was the poems that fill the themes. I sort of meditated and wrote fragments of pieces and responses to our work that I was reading and what happened was my obsessions sword of bubbled up so the ones that you mentioned are what ended up guided it and once they became clear I followed them and then followed the theme that had emerged. How to understand the meaning of the title the flayed city. I think of it in a few ways partially as a migrant who has lived in several cities of the flayed city may partially be a combination of the places we have been on the places that we are and the ways that they overlap both in our own memory and experience of the places that we are in and it's also partially the experience of the time we are living in right now and has been relatively constant in terms of war for the last little while and it. Not only of the cities that were affected but the way or kind of transforms places that are not directly in war into places that are echoes of the places where war is most literally happening He just spoke about moving through cultures. I am wondering how do you think your experience as an immigrant literally moving through cultures changes your perception of culture itself. My first response is it definitely does. I was talking to a friend of mine who is also an immigrant to multiple places from multiple places and it changes how we perceive the world. There is a certain impossibility of whole to a certain extent. This can be free even as it is constantly troubling. And those are things that she my perception also when I arrive in a new place as I was starting to say how I perceived that place reshapes my memory of other places. I will look at where I am with this really wide emotionally available eyes wondering what the place wants to teach me. Would you read from one of your poems for us? This is a declaration love. It is nothing to be surrounded by fallen prayers this is city they know more implicate midday and dogs who sniffed for the presence of other dogs. Perhaps that's what prayers do regardless of the city there barks admitted streets halfway up the fence shifting like a group is a lie here is a person is part to believe we love. Like Eckhart jungle Prince to city we ash on shimmers. Prayers swallowed the revelation of you you a refugee pray to stay mobile toward your final words and entertainment center/library. I am thousands check out books casual pastor will your sheets rather than be set sniffing at me from the darkness of the city as if it sniffs your final words. I describe to make things easier my prayer is that on a shoe at night. It feels good old shoe. These nights under the safety of a visa. That never hold your name Your dad so it is nothing if I slip into County face in your blood my silence halfway up the nose of a sniffing dog bears its teeth and every passive prayer. That was true Hari Alluri reading from his book the flayed city. Thank you for that I heard some references in the home about some of the political debates that is around the issues of immigration and a mix of culture do you find that your most recent poetry does reflect that debris. I think it does necessarily so. Look us up before obsessions bubble up and is for years perhaps we are very very lucky generations forward there's also the urgency of now these questions kind of bubble up and have been bubbling up for quite a while and then touch I feel lucky that a book arrived right when it did because the things that matter to me are starting to matter to a lot of people. Because you teach him because he added this magazine of writing and poetry and so forth how would you say the current state of tree is? Is it healthy and vibrant? That's an interesting question. There's a lot of folks making the diagnosis. In some ways poetry will always be vibrant. If we look around at the world anytime any time or place is having questions about it self in furtherance of poetry reemerges. The other thing that I have right now in terms of hope is that we are starting to listen much more avidly to voices not just from around the world but from the sort of most marginalized populations here. That can only be good for poetry. I have been speaking with poet Hari Alluri author of the flayed city. Thank you for coming in and speaking with us. Thank you for having me on.

Book cover, "The Flayed City" by San Diego poet Hari Alluri.
Book cover, "The Flayed City" by San Diego poet Hari Alluri.

The themes of memory, moving through differing cultures, landscapes and the weight of masculinity run through the work of San Diego poet Hari Alluri's new book, "The Flayed City".

Alluri immigrated from Nigeria to Canada at the age of 12 and now lives in San Diego.

His newly-published poems have received great praise, including from U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera who said Alluri, "carries a new quiet brush of multi-currents, of multi-worlds to paint this holographic life-scape."

Alluri is the founding editor of Locked Horn Press and editor of the Pacific Review at San Diego State University.

Alluri talked about being a poet in the 21st century and the inspiration behind "The Flayed City" Tuesday on Midday Edition.