The poems embody a search for the deepest questions of existence.
The stark black cover with a touch of yellow entitled Where I Live is Arundhathi Subramaniam's “drizzle of breath”; a consequential candid poetic utterance in the context of her existential commitment to different positions in life. She is close to the artistic realisation of the existentialist thought or even an extension of it. In this book, Arundhathi makes a bold experiment with technique. It is the poetry of the visual image, of sound and light that lays bare a musical composition. She clothes and animates her poetry with symbolism that is sometimes harsh, unnamable and perplexing, original but personal. In her dramatic realisation of an endless quest of her own essence, she evokes surrealistic images which translate in visual and sensuous terms the elusive experience of being.
The movement back and forth in time, the compounding of parody and pathos, the fragmentation of strange experiences break the illusion of continuity. Her poetry is replete with images that project the impotence and sterility of modern civilisation. Living Alone/is about learning/to believe/things are as they appear/that every day has no/ulterior motive
While Arundathi registers her protest , she retains her dignity and sagacity. She also probes into the process of memory and desire, confronting herself with an earlier moment only to discover its strangeness. She stays articulate with the simplicity and directness of image and by the metaphysical anguish in this bleak world .She possesses both skill and imaginative vitality to translate her perceptions into unique and significant artistic expressions.
Every ‘image' implies a vision, internal or external, and then a distinction between a full vision and an incomplete one follows. Although many a times certain images take on meanings that are not necessarily in the mind of the creator. The concept of an image as an abstraction would be an over simplification and sometimes ‘incompleteness' may be a relative term..
Her poetry presents the dichotomy between thought and action, between the totality of being, seeing , believing and understanding that runs through life. It is this inherent complexity of beliefs and miniscule observation that nurture her poetry which is at once fascinating, paradoxical and truly human.
There are many questions raised: Is the denouement of life the only one awaiting us? Can we not restructure and sustain; dream and contain, “an ever-widening commune / of breath.”
Arundathi employs the power of language to undo the subversion of perception, ideas and ideals and seems to stress on ‘a very close relation of language and human integrity.' In her poetry , she finds answers to her own polarity of refinement and indirectly expresses her preoccupation with issues – relating to elitist bias to national perspectives to egalitarian ideals and to the concept of justice in a society at large.