My poem titled “The Capital” is included in “Channels” Volume 19. Channels is an annual publication that features contemporary Sri Lankan Writing and is published by the English Writers’ Cooperative (EWC) Sri Lanka. It’s not available online and I’m posting the poem here.
Colombo clicks her heels
tonight as music throbs in hidden
spaces. Lights blink
as they guide the way along lush
avenues, winding, trees
bending in acknowledgement.
The breezes blow cool
and calm across waters cleared,
now winking as the lights reflections
spread out across the lakes, canals
and waterways free to flow
as they wish. Old world charm sprawls
while modernity rises
from the earth. Brick by brick
the future beckons. The city smiles
at the wonders ahead.
The avenue of independence
has lost her soul. Torn
down by the puppets of the people.
A debauched brain ordered the change.
The earth shudders as trees
crash to the ground,
the birds scatter, their nests
lost in the dust of development,
progress, the need to renew.
The dogs rounded up and sent off
to die. Boiled, gassed. That’s their fate.
There’s no place for the likes
of them in this city
brand spanking new. Not for the likes
of canine, avian; the crows
or strays. The beggars
they kill, their heads smashed with rocks
no better than dogs and left to rot
on pavements. The blood stains on
concrete blocks licked up by
scavengers. The city mourns
and wonders what lies ahead.
© 2013 Shirani Rajapakse
As of yesterday all my published poems are now collected in one space for easy reference. While the links will continue to be available here on this blog the poems are now all at PoemHunter at just one click.
However one poem “The Stray” which I posted here on the blog on November 25, 2011 was taken off as it included “profanity” – seems they didn’t like the word “bitch.” But what do you call a female dog? Is it profanity to or what? You be the judge. Here’s the poem again.
“Why Take her? She’s a
the same kind,”
she replied and
Read Hope, a poem published in Volume II Issue III on the theme of “The Future of Water,” November 2013.
“On the Way to Over There” a micro story, is featured in the Autumn 2013 Issue. Flip through to page 32.
Read “September” live today at http://newversenews.blogspot.com/2013/09/september.html Or read it below.
My poem “Where do we go from here?” appears in Issue 10, Fall 2013 on the theme of Samsara.
The June issue of Spark is out. It’s about the Facets of Nature. Check out my poem “Colombo.”
The Return is featured in Vol I Issue II of Earthen Lamp Journal on the theme of conflict.
“Misunderstanding” is published in Poet’s Basement in CounterPunch, May 1, 2013.
My poem “Tall Majesty” is included in Volume II Issue I of About Place Journal on the theme of trees.
My poem “Wednesday Afternoon” is published in this month’s issue of Spark the Magazine. The theme explores “Life on the Street.”
My poem At the Cafe is published in Berfrois today, April 30, 2013.
In February 2013, Freedom Press an anarchist publisher in Whitechapel, East London was firebombed. Alex Clarke brought together a group of poets to Donate A Poem for Freedom to raise funds in support of Freedom Press. This is the result – an anthology of 45 poems by The Freedom Poets, a group of established an emerging poets. Released today Poems for Freedom is available on lulu.
"I still consider myself a true novice, and I'm still learning my profession ... One has to ascend one step at a time ... demand of my nature, my spiritual and intellectual development, something that no author can give until much later ... My work has just begun."
CASIDAS (Translation by A. S. Kline)
CASIDA DE LA ROSA
The rose was…
Two of my poems, “Lost in Thought” and “The End of Summer” are included in Dove Tales, an International journal of the Arts “Occupied” 2013.
I’m reading three of my published poems, “Questions Left Unanswered” (Winner of the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013), “The Violinist” (Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012) and “Hope” (Song of Sahel 2012)
The interview I did with Morgen Bailey in February is revisited in her blog Morgen’s Author Interviews. Check it out if you missed it the first time.
I’m featured in the Winning Writers Newsletter -March 2013. Check out the section on “Recent Honors for our Newsletter Subscribers.”
A big THANK YOU to everyone that likes my posts/pages and add interesting comments.
I’m a lazy blogger as you may have realized…. although I don’t always comment I do appreciate and value the time you spend on my blog.
The English Writers’ Cooperative (EWC) of Sri Lanka in association with the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) organised an evening of poetry and prose by Sri Lankan women writers to celebrate International Women’s Day. Some of the work can be viewed here.
December 16, 2012 is one of the poems I read out. It was written in January this year and was in response to the horrific event that took place in Delhi, India in December that sent shock waves across the world.
December 16, 2012
They made a movie on a bus
riding around town, no one
heard the songs, or
saw the dances. The action stars
were new. Later, someone threw
in a name – Amanat. On and
on they moved around Delhi’s leafy
avenues, curtains drawn while the engine
kept time to the sounds inside. No cuts
no breaks the actors played their
part. The heroine protested – like all
heroines do. A new face she was dressed
for the part. An item girl they sang as
she danced. Munirka to Dwarka
it purred on its way. The wheels turned
round and round as the winter chill crept
through the leaves on the trees
and a single leaf fluttered to the ground,
torn apart. It fell across the road and no
one took note. Just another
leaf among so many in the city. Action
spent the bus came to a stop but
before they could shoot again the city rose
in wrath to demand a ban on the script’s
repeat. Candles lit, they waited it out, but
the wheels grind slowly round
and round. And while the old men argued
in vain inside colonial walls another
leaf fell silently to the ground.
© 2013 Shirani Rajapakse
Two poems, “Alone” and “Samsara” are published in Buddhist Poetry Review – Issue Eight Spring 2013.
I just won the Poetry Contest. How cool is that!!!
At the beginning of February, Freedom Bookshop was firebombed. No one was hurt and not a single word was broken. In fact, the burning of words only strengthened links and empowered ideas. Funny how things turn out.
The lack of media attention was disturbing, but not surprising. Interesting waifs and strays heard via word of mouth. Activists blogged, tweeted, and txtd each other.
Set to lull
Beers swilled, shots tossed
Ink to page
Rip it up…
The English Writers’ Cooperative of Sri Lanka
in association with
International Centre for Ethnic Studies
cordially invites you to a Literary Evening
Celebrating Sri Lankan Women’s Writing in English
Thursday, March 7, 2013; 4.00 pm – 6.00 pm
ICES Auditorium , 2, Kynsey Terrace ,Colombo 08
Kamini de Soysa
Introduction to the EWC – Vijita Fernando
The Narrator in Creative Writing – Prashani Anjali Rambukwella
Readings: 15writers from their works
Nanda P. Wanasundera Summary Emerged Kandy Women
Premini Amarasinghe Poem Realisation
Rukshani Weerasuriya Poems The Birth, It is no sacrifice
Basil Fernando Poem A Woman for Other Women
PunyakanteWijenaike Short Story Reconciliation
Shireen Senadhira Poem Where Am I
Sakuntala Sachithanandan Poems Daughter, Rizana, All is Burning
Chitra Premaratne-Stuiver Poem Lechery Machismo for the Birds
Myrle Williams Short Story Investigative Journalism
Jayanthi Kaththriarachchi Poems Patachara Laments,. Gratitude
Faith Ratnayake Poem Hands
Jayani Senanayake Poems Loku Amma, Lender of Perfumes, The Other Woman, Advice on entering the Adult World, The Gorgon
Mariam Riza Short Story The Child that Died
Shirani Rajapakse Poem December Sixteenth 20/12
Vijita Fernando Short Story The Prize
Pamela S. Wight
Snow falls as silently as stardust on a bright clear night.
Stardust covers the houses and the trees and the ground and you –
if you’re out on a star-filled night.
The sound is a hush.
A hush as haunting and beautiful as a
mother’s lullaby to her newborn babe.
It’s the same sound of snow falling on oak and dale,
The word Valid comes from the Latin,
(As so many words do),
I want what I am feeling
To be valid,
But I do not want to
Is not so simple as
It may be Old Germanic
(With a bit of Latin thrown
in too, just for good measure).
It means many things:
Webster perches on the table
by my side and waits
ever patient. Spell check is
sometimes negligent. I think he
gets into moods. He takes his own
version, tries to impress.
Tells me I am wrong and he’s
right. He never
admits he’s wrong. Not even
once. How like a man. Spell check’s
a young punk with his…
Across the bridge
beat of my heart
like rock n roll band
plummet to acute silent
moment in time
before the scream
a split second
the mind have crossed,
penalty weight heavy
tempo and meter
dark in my head
do I dare demand
it's been a long time coming
cannot go gently,
tears stream down…
I kick off Poetry Week with what I refer to as my signature piece, Mom and Bocelli. Today is Mom’s birthday, so I thought it fitting.
Mom was born Lois Jane Holmes in Lansford, PA, February 18, 1921. She loved her family and instilled “loving family” in all of us. She was a seamstress, a crossword and quote-acrostic puzzler, a meatloaf to beef bourguignon chef.
My poem, Zuccotti Park Rises is published in About Place Journal, Vol I Issue IV on the theme of Wall Street.
My poem “Questions Left Unanswered” is shortlisted for the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest.
Check out my interview on Morgen’s Author Interviews by Morgen Bailey posted today.
Three of my poems published in the Occupy Poetry Project has now been included in the Anthology. You can check out my poems posted on January 2, 2012.
The trees are falling,
falling down along the avenue
flanked by the law, the arts
and the house of the intellectuals.
Helpless we watch the machines hum as a piece
of history is cut down to the ground.
Fallen sentinels of the past struck
down by the follies of the present that no
one dares oppose while
beauty is destroyed and the earth torn
apart. Green gives way to concrete.
Planted by an ancient they spread themselves far
and wide. Up above, the branches swelled
to cover the skies. A canopy
of green for the people to walk
through. Hugging the earth below them
stretching their roots to take hold of their home.
“Old roots,” the men sniffed in disdain, “old
roots decay and bring danger to
all,” they claimed. The machines marched in,
the people protested, banners in hand to no avail.
The birds added their songs of alarm
beseeching, beseeching for the trees to stay,
homeland in the skies tumbling to dust.
Their high-rises groaned in anguish as the machines cut
them down. Tears in the skies stopped,
stunned at the affront. Darkness
wasteland they will raise. Twinned with the desert
what more can you hope?
© 2012 Shirani Rajapakse
Photograph courtesy Stand Up for Colombo’s Trees on Facebook. For more information visit http://www.facebook.com/groups/116812511815589/?fref=ts
Sad eyes stare at the world outside,
iron bars lock you in. Four thick walls
mark your space. This is all you
have and nothing more. Proud strong
woman from my homeland you live
imprisoned in a web of lies they
churn out for money from crowds
that come to ogle as you stare
out of your cell with lonely gaze.
Your feet hold scars of neglect yet
the pain in your heart
can never be seen by those that claim
you are well. There’s no one in that space
that can share your grief. You hide it inside
as you have all these years. Can you
still speak oh woman of my land?
Do you understand the words
your ancestors spoke, recall the stories they
whispered to you as a child? Do you yearn
to walk across the lands they owned,
feel the breeze on your skin
once more as it blows warm and free?
Remember your life long ago dear friend,
in that faraway place divided by earth
and sea. You roamed with your
family, played in the woods,
picked up trunkfuls of earth that you
smeared on yourself, bathed in rivers deep
and narrow as the fish swam below between
your feet. Remember the days, you walked
with the herd across vast tracts,
brown and green and azure up above.
They promised you happiness
the day you were sent as a gift yet all
you got was this prison lonely
and sad. Solitary confinement yet you
committed no crime. How long will this last?
Every day you die
a little and every day the lies grow strong.
It doesn’t take much to annoy a Muslim. Draw a cartoon figure and call it Mohammad and you’ll have the Muslim world up in arms, destroying property and killing a few hundred innocent people who have nothing to do with the cartoon.
Nearly seven years ago Muslims ran amok protesting vehemently when Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist published a series of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in Jyllands-Posten. Over 250 were left dead and approximately 800 injured as a result of Muslim extremism.(Huff Post)
Muslims went berserk worldwide recently when Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the California based film maker made a movie on the life of the Prophet Mohammad. This time too it was innocent people that got killed as Muslims the world over took to the streets and forced non Muslims to take note of the insult to Muslims.
Those same Muslims went on the rampage killing Buddhist monks in Bangladesh just a few days ago. Why? Because someone, no one is quite sure who it was, allegedly posted a photograph of the Prophet Mohammad on Facebook. Did they wait to verify the authenticity of the person before they turned violent? No. They didn’t merely target the person who is alleged to have posted the photograph. They targeted the entire community. It was as if the Muslims were waiting for the opportunity to destroy the Buddhists community and that one photograph gave them the much needed excuse to go ahead and kill in the name of Islam. Not so long ago, a young Christian girl was arrested in Pakistan for allegedly burning pages from the Koran.
Muslims are quick to shout out against the slightest insult they feel that is directed at Islam but they don’t seem to care about insulting other religions or hurting and destroying the life of non –Muslims. When the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas in Kandahar, Afghanistan, non-Muslims didn’t go on the rampage killing and destroying property of Muslims or dragging out the ambassadors of Islamic nations and killing them. The Bamiyan Buddhas were ancient statues depicting the form of the Buddha. Not only were they of value to Buddhists but they were also of historical and cultural value to the world.
Religions are supposed to, and claim to be tolerant of other people’s beliefs and view. Yet this doesn’t appear to be so in practice, or at least it doesn’t seem to hold true in Islam where it seems it’s alright to destroy and kill people of another religion.
Innocent Buddhist monks were killed, their temples burned to the ground and the homes of hundreds of Buddhist followers were destroyed in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. A photograph posted on Facebook a few days later, of a monk sifting through the charred remains of what once must have been a temple in search of books that were saved from the fire brought back startling memories. It reminded me of another incident way back when in history. Nalanda University, in north India was one of the world’s oldest centers of learning and was once a thriving center of study. But it was razed to the ground by Islamic fundamentalists that didn’t appear to tolerate other religious views. It was said that the University burnt for days. Everything was destroyed, books, journals, and many students perished too. It was said that scholars came from far and wide to study there. Not anymore.
What Islamic fundamentalists burnt down that day in history was knowledge and the freedom of expression and discourse; the people they denied were the scholars and intellectuals, the cream of any society; they also denied future generations gaining from Nalanda’s vast storehouse of wisdom and knowledge. It was not only a gross injustice to freedom of expression but also a violation of the very basic rights of all peoples – the right to knowledge, education, freedom of expression and importantly the right to life and liberty.
Sadly it’s still the same. Nothing seems to have changed. Except that the temples and houses they burnt recently in Bangladesh was no Nalanda, yet it represented a place of learning, of discourse among people living in that area. These were also their homes that gave them shelter. Now these innocent people are forced onto the streets.
How can a religion claim to be tolerant or peaceful when it burns down and destroys places of religious value? How can it be called peaceful when it destroys life? Islam does all this and still expects the world to feel sympathetic towards them when someone insults Islam. Isn’t this hypocrisy? Or is that allowed?
The Pakistani ambassador recently condemned the anti-Islam video made by Nakoula that defamed the Prophet. Speaking at the UN on behalf of the 56 Islamic states that make up the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) he spoke of the urgent need to protect against “acts of hate crimes, hate speech… and incitement to religious hatred.” His speech is clearly directed at what he believes to be insults towards Islam and not to other religious or peoples.
“Incidents like this clearly demonstrate the urgent need on the part of states to introduce adequate protection against acts of hate crimes, hate speech, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation and negative stereotyping of religions, and incitement to religious hatred, as well as denigration of venerated personalities,” Pakistan’s ambassador Zamir Akram said in a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council. (Reuters)
The OIC hopes to introduce laws to make insults against religions an international crime. It has backed a resolution submitted by African states and calls on all countries to introduce a provision in domestic criminal law to prosecute those responsible for racism or xenophobia. While the text deplores “the targeting of religious symbols and venerated persons” one wonders if this will be applied to crimes such as those that took place in Bangladesh recently, or even in Pakistan or any other country. Will this piece of legislation, if adopted by countries be applicable for all citizens living in those countries, including Muslims, or will it only target non –Muslims? If found to be guilty of inciting religious hatred or acts violence against believers of other religions or faiths, would Muslims agree to abide by the decision of local courts or would they try to get away from punishment by hiding behind Shariah? Only time will tell and hypocrisy rules.
Terror Nadu’s eunuchs huddle in the Lok
Sabha impotent to the cries of a thousand and one
voices in the valley up north. They dance
to the tune of the nautch girl
from the south now too old to lift a foot, an arm
in dance so she wags her tongue instead.
Terror Lalitha the fat wields her truncheon and a few
hundred innocent tourists are molested
by her mob. It doesn’t matter
that some are Tamil, the kind she is trying to save.
She has no cares for the likes of anyone
from her neighbour. The vote is all she lives
for, has been doing so for the past
several years. She is nothing and everyone knows it,
an old actress with naught to show her worth,
except a widening waistline, millions
plundered from the citizens, yet few want to
voice it. The battles in Terror
Nadu are fought over political fault lines
Lalitha vs. Nidhi the corrupt
who hides his shame behind sun shades
and goes into battle to rule with no care for
the people on the street. Refugees
raped and killed in camps
in his own home while Delhi’s old men
blinded by power and hate bend in supplication to
the false Gods from the south.
© 2012 Shirani Rajapakse
My poem titled “The Violinist” is included in the Voices Israel 2012 Anthology. Over 150 poets from Israel and abroad are featured in this volume which includes more than 230 poems.
Join us on September 15th on Facebook for the worldwide launch of Song of Sahel the Anthology of poetry fiction, music, art and photography. Featuring artists from around the world including the UK, US, Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Germany, Canada, India and Australia, Song of Sahel hopes to raise awareness of the plight of the people living in the Sahel. Published by Plum Tree Books as a multi-media kindle and available on amazon, the proceeds of the sale will go to SOS Sahel an NGO working in the Sahel region of Africa.
Listen to music composed specially for the event and hear live readings of some of the poems submitted. you could also listen to a special radio broadcast with Claudio Fiore and Niamh Clune. The event begins at 10am GMT and will continue around the clock until 10am the following day.
The radio event will be broadcast at 6pm GMT, 10am PDT, 12pm CDT and 1pm EDT.