Out of Sri Lanka: The Poetry of Witness (In-Person)

Wed May 01 2024 at 06:00 pm to 07:30 pm

Manchester Poetry Library, Manchester Metropolitan University, Grosvenor East Building | Manchester

Manchester Poetry Library
Publisher/HostManchester Poetry Library
Out of Sri Lanka: The Poetry of Witness (In-Person)
The launch of Out of Sri Lanka, the first ever anthology of Sri Lankan and diasporic poetry
About this Event

Hosted by the Centre for Migration and Postcolonial Studies (MAPS), Manchester Metropolitan University.

Sri Lanka has thrilled the foreign imagination as a land of infinite possibility. Portuguese, Dutch and British colonisers envisioned an island of gems and pearls, a stopping-point on the Silk Road; tourists today are sold a vision of golden beaches and swaying palm trees, delicious food and smiling locals. This idyllic image is at odds with the social reality of a 26-year civil war that ended in 2009, a history of war crimes, illicit assassination of activists and journalists, subjugation of minorities, and a legacy of governmental corruption that has now led the country into economic and social crisis.

Out of Sri Lanka, the first ever anthology of Sri Lankan and diasporic poetry, features over a hundred poets writing in English, or translated from Tamil and Sinhala. It brings to light a long-neglected national literature, and reshapes our understanding of migrational poetics and the poetics of atrocity. Poets long out of print appear beside exciting new talents; works written in the country converse with poetry from the UK, the US, Canada and Australia.

Crucially, the anthology also articulates a poetics of witness that challenges those who would erase – rather than enquire into – the country’s troubled past. On 1 May we are delighted to present the three editors, Vidyan Ravinthiran, Seni Seneviratne and Shash Trevett – all poets and contributors to the volume. They will read from their work and discuss the challenges of creating an anthology that represents the divided nation and the politics of remembrance with Minoli Salgado.

Register here to attend in-person or here if you wish to attend online.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase on the day alongside a drinks reception.

A child of Sri Lankan Tamils, Vidyan Ravinthiran grew up in Leeds, UK and now teaches at Harvard University. He has published three works of criticism, edited multiple books of South Asian verse, and authored two collections of poetry. His collection, The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here (Bloodaxe, 2019), won a Northern Writers’ Award, a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize and the 2019 T.S. Eliot Prize. His first collection, Grun-tu-Molani (Bloodaxe, 2014), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for First Collection, the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for First Full Collection and the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize. Vidyan helps organize Ledbury Critics, a scheme for racially diversifying review-culture. His next book will be a combination of poetry riticism and memoir, Asian/Other, published by Norton in the US and Icon in the UK.

Seni Seneviratne, a writer of English and Sri Lankan heritage, is published by Peepal Tree Press - Wild Cinnamon and Winter Skin (2007), The Heart of It (2012), Unknown Soldier (2019). The latter was a PBS Recommendation, National Poetry Day Choice and highly commended in Forward Poetry Prizes 2020. She is widely published in anthologies and magazines, most recently: 100 Queer Poems (Penguin), and New England Review. She collaborates with film-makers, visual artists, musicians and digital artists and is one of ten commissioned writers on the Colonial Countryside Project. She is currently working on an Arts Council Funded touring project based on her book, Unknown Soldier. Her fourth collection, The Go-Away Bird, was published in October 2023. www.seniseneviratne.com.

Shash Trevett is a poet and a translator of Tamil poetry into English. Her poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies (including POETRY, Poetry London, Modern Poetry in Translation, Ambit and The North), she has read widely across the U.K and is a winner of a Northern Writers’ Award. Her pamphlet From a Borrowed Land was published in May 2021 (Smith|Doorstop) and her first full collection, The Naming of Names, will be published later this year, also by Smith|Doorstop. Shash is a member of the Kinara Poetry Collective, a Ledbury Critic and a Board Member of Modern Poetry in Translation.

Minoli Salgado’s books include the critical study, Writing Sri Lanka: Literature, Resistance and the Politics of Place (Routledge, 2006) and a book of narrative non-fiction, Twelve Cries from Home: In Search of Sri Lanka’s Disappeared (Repeater, 2022). Her next book Witness Literature: Culture, Memory and Contested Truths is due for publication with Bloomsbury Academic later this year. She is Professor of International Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.


Event Venue & Nearby Stays

Manchester Poetry Library, Manchester Metropolitan University, Grosvenor East Building, Cavendish Street, Manchester, United Kingdom


GBP 0.00

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