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International Times

Originally published in “Writers for Calais Refugees” A Place to Call Home was published today in International Times.

 

A Place to Call Home

 Stichting-Vluchteling-The-Dutch-Refugee-Foundation-1

When what you flee from is
not what you want to remember, blood

washing streets, bodies decomposing,
sisters forced to strip down, gorged on like

the entrails of cattle by a dozen or so men
wanting things they have no

right to, but expect you, your mother or daughter to
pay, when what you run towards is

not what you expect, ephemeral like sad clouds
passing overhead or translucent lines of

steam rising from coffee whose taste lingers
only in your memory, when what you witness is

not what you had hoped, for yourself and the others
with you, unwashed bodies, smells of fear, loss,

helplessness, hunger that not even the dog on the
street experiences, huddling in the darkness as

you rise and fall on waves pounding through, praying
to any god that listens to let you stay afloat

balancing precariously on her many sighs
and heaves and not embrace you into her octopus

arms like she did so many times gathering others into her,
the dark skirts smothering only to vomit them up on

beaches, worn out, unresponsive, of no
significance, when what you look forward to is

not what you get on arrival, the snaking lines, the wait,
the taunts, the beating, razor sharp wires that brand

your attempts to scramble out, the sneers and most of all the
looks of contempt, you wonder if what you left behind,

however terrible it was, however cruel the sun shone, was
better than this, a living death – who can say if there

is better than here, but can you retrace
your steps to here that doesn’t want you anymore?

SHIRANI RAJAPAKSE

https://writersforcalaisrefugees.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/shirani-rajapakse/

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New Verse News

Posted today a poem about the elections in Saudi Arabia.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2015

SAUDI ARABIA

by Shirani Rajapakse


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — In elections that allowed Saudi women to vote and run for office for the first time, more than a dozen women won seats on local councils in different parts of the country, officials said on Sunday. While the move was hailed by some as a new step into the public sphere by women in this religious and conservative monarchy, the local councils have limited powers and the new female members will make up less than 1 percent of the elected council members nationwide. —NY Times, Dec. 13, 2015. Photo credit: Ahmed Yosri/European Pressphoto Agency.




What use a vote
when they are all shrouded

in darkness? An
image at the periphery of the horizon

crying to be acknowledged,
a shadow fluttering past, a sad cloud

shielding its eyes from
a dust storm,

a puppet in the house
dancing to someone’s idea of a

tune. None of these are of much use,
except to entertain

and you don’t
need a vote for that.

Shirani Rajapakse writes poetry and fiction. Winner of the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013, finalist in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards 2013, and shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award 2010 her work appears in Flash Fiction International (Norton 2015), Silver Birch, Asian Signature, Moving Worlds, Berfrois, Counterpunch, Earthen Lamp Journal, Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry Review, TheNewVerse.News, About Place Journal, Ballads (Dagda 2014), Poems for Freedom (River Books 2013), Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012 and many others.

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Cities + Secrets

image

Issue 5 of Cities + is all about secrets. Here is what to expect in the issue.

“We send you on a hunt to find answers written in urban landscapes and whisper (or maybe shout) to you about Rankopolis, the most ‘city’ of all cities. There is a polemic on the parasitic nature of the urban-rural divide. There is a series of conjurations based on Calvino’s ‘Invisible Cities’ (if you don’t think you can see the invisible, think again)(actually always, always think again). And there is a most impressive contributor who literally unearthed the secrets of her garden. That’s not even an exhaustive list. ”

Check out The Old Road on page 58.

 

 

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Flash Fiction International

A review of Flash Fiction International at Kitaab. To read it go here.

“Right on the trail of Kafka and coincidentally just a few pages after him, we have the story “Shattered” by Shirani Rajapakse from Sri Lanka. The title hits the reader like the single-worded and sometimes monosyllabic title of a horror movie. Now this is not the case at all in terms of genre but the events described are nothing short of horrifying. The writer speaks about war, like many other Lankan writers do, but Shattered puts a unique spin on the theme.”

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Getting it Write!

The annual creative writing seminar organised by the English Writers’ Cooperative (EWC) Sri Lanka will be held on August 29, 2015 from 9.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. at the auditorium of the Sri Lanka Federation of University Women.
There will be two sessions on poetry and short story followed by a panel discussion in the afternoon.

For more info check it out on Facebook.

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Flash Fiction International – a review

“As much as I love and admire full-length fiction, these little marvels have had such a salutary effect on me. I highly recommend them for you, too. Take and enjoy. The doses might be small but they are always  bracing!”

Check out the review of Flash Fiction International by Luke Sherwood in Basso Profundo.

 

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National Flash Fiction Day at The Write – In

The Editors at The Write -In have created an event for today, June 27, National Flash Fiction Day. Write flash stories based on any of their prompts and if the the stories are interesting they get published. It’s all happening right now. Check out my story Things that Happen in the Night.

 

 

 

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One hundred rupees for a day of lit

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What can a hundred rupees (approximately 0.75 USD) get you? A bottle of water, a snack, some sweets, maybe a short bus ride to wherever and back? That’s not much really. A hundred rupees certainly won’t get you in through the door of any theatre or movie hall anywhere in the country either. But on Saturday April 25, a hundred rupees opened the doors to a literary festival. And it wasn’t just any literary festival but one that brought together local writers from all communities in Sri Lanka to one single venue for an entire day. Yes, a hundred rupees marked its value well that day.

Anyone interested in books and writing had a whole day to spend at a literary event with an added bonus of a sampling of kadala (chickpea) served in a typical gotta (paper cone) all for a hundred rupees.

The Western Province Aesthetic Resort in Colombo that played host to the event was in many ways an ideal location. Two well air-conditioned halls and one open hall, an open air space and a fairly large area for stalls – books and food and resting places, plus the greenery and water features provided a pleasing setting on a sultry Sri Lankan day.

The Annasi & Kadalagotu Lit Fest created a first in many ways. The thirteen events from a book launch, talks with writers, a documentary, publishers’ clinic and panel discussions were spread out across three halls.  It was the first literature festival in the country that had such a low entrance fee, enabling everyone from all walks of life to participate in every activity with no extra charges. It was also the first time writers from all three languages of the country Sinhala, Tamil and English came together to talk about all things writing.

Adding to the local flavour were the street vendors who’d set up at the entrance selling hot hot kadala, boiled spicy manokka (cassava), annasi (pineapple), corn on the cob and veralu achcharu (pickle). Discussions flowed, ideas were exchanged, friends met, books bought and autographed, food consumed while the coffee ran out even before the start of the first session.

Kudos to the organisers for all the hard work.

(Images curtsey A&K Lit Fest)

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Flash Fiction International -W.W.Norton

“The authors of several stories set in war-torn lands, among them Lin Dinh’s “Man Carrying Books” (Vietnam) and Shirani Rajapakse’s “Shattered” (Sri Lanka), use the brevity of the form strategically to suggest the vulnerability of their characters to sudden twists of fate.” Flash Fiction International (W.W.Norton). Read the full review at Publishers Weekly.

Or check out the review at W.W.Norton.

0393346072.01.LZZZZZZZ

 

 

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Catastrophe and Environment

Moving Worlds Volume 14 Number 2 Catastrophe and Environment will be launched during the two-day public conference Reframing Disaster that will be held from 28-29 November 2014 at Leeds.

Reframing Disaster is being held to mark the 30th anniversary of the Bhobal Gas Disaster in India, the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide and the 10th anniversary of the South Asian Tsunami.

The conference will “think through how these and other global disasters have been conceptualised and represented in art, literature, film and the media.”

For more details about the book including a table of contents and purchase information go here.

Turn to page 44 for my poem “Conversations in the Dark.

Catastrophe and Environment

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Cities+Language

The theme of this issue of Cities + is language. The issue “explores how Cities speak through bodies, books, buildings, cracked images, children’s drawings, grafitti, ground diagram sillouettes, maps, mechanical sounds, musical notes, pictures, poems, scents, sidewalks. Consider this issue as a multi-sensory dictionary, whose entries go far beyond words, and go back to them – or simply start with them.”

Check out “Colombo” on page 50.

 

 

Cities+Language

 

 

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2014- the Year that Commemorates Global Catastrophes

2014 is a significant year for anniversaries of disasters. While all attention seems to be on the centenary of World War I this year is also significant as it the anniversary of several natural catastrophes that took place around the world. It’s the 30th anniversary of Bhopal Gas Disaster in India, the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, and the 10th anniversary of the South Asian tsunami.

Several events to commemorate the anniversaries of the natural disasters are being held in Leeds, UK in November.

  • “Reframing Disaster” a conference connected to an AHRC-funded research project led by Dr Anthony Carrigan, entitled ‘Representing Postcolonial Disaster’ will be organised in November as part of a week-long series of activities designed to coincide directly with the anniversaries of the Bhopal and South Asian tsunami disasters.
  • It will include an exhibition by world-renowned Indian photographer Raghu Rai (the first photographer to document the Bhopal disaster), to be held at the Tetley Gallery (http://thetetley.org/).
  • Launch of the Tsunami anthology by Moving Worlds.

Those interested in participating in the “Reframing Disaster” or presenting papers go here. Note the last date to submit is September 7. You may query at the site. For details on the project Representing Post Colonial Disaster go here.

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Deep Water Literary Journal

I tend to publish more poetry than fiction for whatever reason. This is one of the few instances when I published fiction. Check out my flash story “Night Visitor” in Issue 2, published this month. It’s a dark story, but then that’s what the Deep Water Literary Journal is about – exploring the dark side of life. To read the rest of the journal go here.

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Animal Liberation Front.com

Mali, the poem written for the jailed Sri Lankan elephant and posted on my blog in 2012 is included in Animal Liberation Front.com. Let’s hope more people get behind the effort to save Mali, like they did for Sunder.  Go here for the poem or go here to check out the rest of the poems, stories and essays  and other facts relating to animal rights/abuse posted on Animal Liberation Front.com.

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Short & Sweet launched

Can you tell a story in 25 words? How do you fit in a beginning, middle and an end, describe characters, themes, set the scene, add dialogue in just 25 words?

The answer – Short & Sweet, Sri Lanka’s first ever anthology of hint fiction.

Short & Sweet includes over 160 little pieces of fiction written by over 90 Sri Lankan writers from all walks of life including some well known names such as Yasmine Gooneratne, Shyam Selvadurai and Ameena Hussein. It is curated by Sanjana Hattotuwa.

Short & Sweet was launched last evening in Colombo.

Happy to have one of my short, short, short stories published here.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAFor more information and orders go to http://www.pererahussein.com

 

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Channels

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.

The Capital

 I

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.

II

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

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All My Poems in One Place except “The Stray”

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.

The Stray

“Why Take her? She’s a

bitch” he

sounded

puzzled?

She stared

at him.

Astounded.

 

“Your mother’s

the same kind,”

she replied and

took the

homeless

bitch home.

 

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New Verse News

Read “September” live today at http://newversenews.blogspot.com/2013/09/september.html  Or read it below.

The New Verse News

 Wednesday, September 11, 2013

SEPTEMBER

by Shirani Rajapakse

Remember, you said, that day. People
falling from the sky like stars,
burnt out flares unable to cling on. Fire
.
in the sky metal crashing above. Remember
how it felt as you looked up at the
heavens, the noise deafened
.
and the dust from the stars crumbled
into your eyes. Horrorstruck, was this the end?
Remember the smell, flesh, iron roasting
.
cheap like a giant barbecue in the sky
while all around the grey dust of construction
falling like haze on an early morn.
.
You screamed but no one
heard amidst the noise of a world gone mad.
You cried in vain for what you
.
couldn’t hold, then forgot as
the years flashed by and they made plans anew
leaving you out of it. No use to no one
.
anymore.  Remember how you forgot
it all, buried in your life, the chores, the rush
and swirl of work, the demands
.
of modernity. Remember how she felt falling,
burning, crying. But do remember
how a madman rose in the sky
.
one day to steal the future leaving her
with tears and nothing else except a few
burnt out shreds. Remember.
.
.
Shirani Rajapakse
is a Sri Lankan poet and author. She won the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013. Her collection of short stories, Breaking News (Vijitha Yapa 2011) was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award. Shirani’s work appears or is forthcoming in Linnet’s Wings, Channels, Spark, Berfrois, Poets Basement, Earthen Lamp Journal, Asian Cha, Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry Review, About Place Journal, Skylight 47, The Smoking Poet, New Verse News, The Occupy Poetry Project and anthologies Poems for Freedom, Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012, Song of Sahel, Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, World Healing World Peace and Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence.
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Poems for Freedom

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.

Poems for Freedom

 

 

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Pretzels & Bullfights: Lorca, The Gypsy Poet

Here’s an interesting post about an amazing poet – Lorca.

dVerse

lorca

“I still consider myself a true novice, and I’m still learning my profession … One has to ascend one step at a time … [One shouldn’t] 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)

VII
CASIDA DE LA ROSA

The rose was
not looking for the morning:
on its branch, almost immortal,
it looked for something other.

The rose was
not looking for wisdom, or for shadow:
the edge of flesh and dreaming,
it looked for something other.

The rose was
not looking for the rose, was
unmoving in the heavens:
it looked for something other.

Federico Garcia Lorca was one of the most important Spanish poets of the twentieth century. Born in 1898 in Fuente Vaqueros, was fortunate in his early years to be influenced by his…

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Celebrating Sri Lankan Women’s Writing in English

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