Poetry. Translated from the Tamil by Geetha Sukumaran. Bilingual edition. Since the 1980s, Tamil poetry from Sri Lanka, taking a new turn to reflect the troubles in the country, has served as a counter-memory, a witness for, torture, loss, trauma and exile. Ahilan gives us a unique voice and style, in which he expresses the violence in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka with great nuance and subtlety. His background as art historian has allowed him to blend the two-thousand-year-old Tamil cultural, literary and philosophic tradition with visual, graphic imagery to create a rich and distinct body of poetry.
"This is a powerful, essential, book that should be read by all, to understand the unofficial truth of a war in any country where 'the Watchtowers lying awake / on the face of the sea / do not rest.'"—Michael Ondaatje
"If Raul Zurita describes the horrors of Chilean massacres by a visceral figuration of the landscape, Ahilan turns his unflinching gaze on the mutilated body itself, making it possible to bring into the syntax of the poem that which usually stays in the coroner's report. Some are love poems, some nostalgic for a time before the wars, but they are all poems of the battered survivor, desperate to remember the dead. Ahilan is a national treasure, and we are grateful to Geetha Sukumaran for her sensitive translation, careful notes and stunning introduction."—Anushiya Ramaswamy
Packiyanathan Ahilan was born in 1970 during a troubled period in Sri Lanka. His greatest influences are the Russian modernist Anna Akmatova, the Kirghiz writer Chingiz Aitmatov and the Indian Tamil poet Sukumaran. He lives in Sri Lanka.
Author City: Jaffna SRI
Geetha Sukumaran, a poet and translator, is a doctoral candidate in Humanities at York University, Toronto. She holds an MPhil degree in Tamil literature. Her research interests include contemporary Tamil poetry, women's writing, trauma literature and translation. Her current research focuses on the literature and oral narratives of women from conflict zones that connect with culinary practices, war trauma and religion. Her Tamil translation of Sylvia Plath's poems was published in 2013 and her own poetry collection in Tamil was published in 2014.
Author City: Toronto, ON CAN