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Earthworkers | Vikram Ramakrishnan

Vikram Ramakrishnan is a writer and computer programmer. He’s an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania and member of Odyssey Writing Workshop’s class of 2020. He won the 17th Annual Gival Press Short Story prize. His work is in SAND Journal, Newfound, F(r)iction, and About Place Journal.

How did you begin working with/in response to natural environments?

I’m thankful to have experienced much of the world. I was born in Bangalore, India, grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Coral Springs, Florida. Since, I’ve lived in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, and New York. Loving my environment--or more often, finding what to love in my environment--has been critical to my peace of mind. Part of this has been to find nature in deeply urban spaces. A park, going for a walk with my husky, or simply observing--there’s so much we can learn on a simple walk, both internally and externally. This has expanded my notion of what’s possible in urban spaces. It’s common to think of nature as being mountains, hills, and lakes. No doubt, these aspects of nature are beautiful. But there’s something mind bending when you stop for a moment to consider ivy crawling up the facade of a hundred-year-old home.

tree brick apartments

What has that ivy seen? If the home were alive, what would it think about the ivy? Anthropomorphizing the urban world offers a new look at nature, a reminder that we co-habitate with her.

Share with us one of your favorite creative pieces and the natural environment it responds to.

Recently, I was honored to win the 17th Annual Gival Press Short Story Award for my rom-com set in the story’s eponymous Jackson Heights. Jackson Heights is an incredibly diverse part of Queens.

It’s a beautiful quilt of neighborhood restaurants and shops. The story follows an unnamed couple who spend a day there, ducking in and out of their past as we learn about their history. I love when authors use setting to create tension and tone. Here, I use Jackson Heights as a setting in which the main characters navigate diversity juxtaposed with privilege.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to co-create with the natural world?

Co-creation is an act of understanding the medium with which you are creating. To do this with nature, throw yourself into the natural world. Into your natural world. But what is your natural world? Here, there's a less talked about aspect of nature: how does it mold our daily environment? Cities, for example, are nothing more than a co-creation of humanity and wild nature, a collection of interactions.

buildings and trees

Take a moment and consider something simple in your surroundings. How do the branches of trees intertwine at the park? How does ivy crawling up a streetlamp look at night? What about the slugs that sit carefree in the grass in the misty pre-dawn? These are all moments of co-creation that are worth exploring.

Animated short “Eggs” adapted from Vikram's short story
by the same name in SAND Journal.


Subscribe to Vikram's Newsletter
Press Release for Gival Award
Read Vikram's short story "A Crack in the Ground that Went to the Other Side of the Earth" in About Place Journal

Image info: 1: Canva; 2: Brick Underground ; 3: Canva ; 4: SAND Journal

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