Karthika Naïr


Karthika Naïr is a poet, fabulist and librettist whose books include The Honey Hunter/ Le Tigre de Miel (illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet), which later became the grandmother’s tale in Chotto Desh. Until theLions: Echoes from the Mahabharata, her reimagining of the foundational South Asian epic in multiple voices, won the 2015 Tate Literature Live Award for Book of the Year (Fiction), was shortlisted for the Atta Galatta Prize (India), and highly commended in the 2016 Forward Prizes (UK).

Her latest poetry collection, A Different Distance (Milkweed Editions, December 2021), renga written with American poet Marilyn Hacker, was a Ms. Magazine Recommended Read for Fall 2021 and an Indie Next Selection for December 2021. Naïr’s poetry has been widely published in anthologies and journals like Granta, Los Angeles Review of Books, Poetry Magazine, Poetry International, Indian Literature, The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets and the Forward Book of Poetry 2017. She is a 2012 Sangam House Fellow, a 2013 Toji Foundation Fellow, and was awarded a Villa Marguerite Yourcenar Fellowship in 2015.

Also a dance enabler, Naïr worked in prominent Parisian public theatres and museums (musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration, Centre national de la danse, Cité de la musque…) before joining forces with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet. She is executive producer of their works such as Babel (Words)Puz/zleand Les Médusésand co-founder of Cherkaoui’s Antwerp-based company, Eastman. Between 2010 and 2015, Naïr seconded Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui as associate programmer of Festival Equilibrio in Rome. In 2012, she blueprinted the biannual Prakriti Excellence in Contemporary Dance Awards (PECDA) for Prakriti Foundation in India, a unique platform for dance in the Subcontinent, and she helmed its first four editions (2012-2018) as artistic director.

The dance pieces she has scripted and co-scripted have been staged at venues across the world, such as Théâtre de la Ville (Paris), Esplanade (Singapore), Sadler’s Wells (London), Lincoln Centre (New York City) and L.G. Arts Center (Seoul). These include Akram Khan’s DESH, Chotto Desh, and Until the Lions (also adapted from her own book), Carlos Pons Guerra’s Mariposa, and part of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Damien Jalet’s Babel 7.16, a special version rewritten and re-staged for the Cour d’honneur of the Palais des Papes at the 2016 edition of Festival d’Avignon. An opera adaptation of Until the Lions, composed by Thierry Pécou, choreographed and directed by Shobana Jeyasingh, premiered at Opéra national du Rhin (Strasbourg) in September 2022.
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