Overview

A reading of 'Living Space' by poet Imtiaz Dharker

The poem describes a ramshackle living space, with its lack of 'straight lines' and beams 'balanced crookedly on supports'. Imtiaz Dharker has explained that the poem describes the slums of Mumbai, where people migrate from all over India in the hope of a better life. The slum areas are living spaces created out of all kinds of found materials: corrugated sheets, wooden beams and tarpaulin. In this poem she celebrates the existence of these living spaces as a miracle.

The lines of the buildings are slanting and unstable, balancing precariously between dangerous and 'miraculous'. The eggs in a basket that hang out 'over the dark edge' are an act of faith, not only because someone has so delicately placed them in such a ramshackle environment, but also because they contain new life. The eggs, like the buildings are miracles.

It may seem like an act of faith to live in one of these rough structures - a daring attempt to live in such a place. In this way the poem represents the fragility of human life and celebrates the way that faith brings boldness.

Read the poem here.