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“Fallen Leaves” out now

Fallen Leaves my latest poetry collection is out now in paperback. You can get it at Amazon. The ebook will follow shortly.

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Description

Rajapakse uses poetry to look at the conflict that raged in the tiny island nation of Sri Lanka for close to three decades. People from all walks of life, ethnic, religious and age groups suffered. The Tamil terrorists disrupted life and property all over the country for three decades, while for a few years in the late 1980s a Marxist guerilla group caused chaos. The JVP was wiped out in a few years. The Tamil terrorists however took much longer.

These poems are a reflection of the time. They take on voices of people from across the divide and speak of the incredible loss the people all suffered.

They are dark yet thought provoking. They speak of a moment in history when people lived amidst a sense of helplessness and fear of terror.
It is dedicated to “all those we lost along the way.”
Blurb

She tried to recall the

day he walked out, the day she

last saw him and the exact moment

she heard his voice on the phone assuring her

all was well. And then

 

no more.

 

What happened? What went wrong?

She would never know. There was no

one left to respond, and those that were there

didn’t dare speak up as the reasons for

what took place didn’t make sense

so they kept quiet and hoped in time

she would understand.

 

Introduction

For close to thirty years the tiny island nation of Sri Lanka was embroiled in conflict.

In the early 1980s the Tamil terrorists – the LTTE – took to war to demand a separate homeland in the north of the country, despite a considerable number of Tamils living in the south. They began intensifying their demands by causing damage in all parts of the country. LTTE women suicide bombers blew themselves up in crowded public places in the mainly Sinhala dominated south, while explosive packed trucks rammed into building destroying lives and infrastructure.  As a response to and protest against the LTTE, the Marxist JVP guerillas created unrest in the south. People who didn’t listen to the JVPs diktats were kidnapped or killed. Those suspected of being JVP members were hauled off by the armed forces and taken in for questioning. No one was safe. Everyday brought fresh news of death or disappearance while bodies burnt on the sides of roads.

The government responded by hounding the JVP and ending their reign of terror within a few years. But not before thousands of young men and women were sacrificed. The LTTE, however, could not be eliminated so easily. They continued to wage war for close to three decades. Attacks on civilians took place so regularly that violence became more common than peace.

And where there was conflict there was devastation. People’s lives changed so drastically that no one ever though they would live to see a day when they could walk the streets unafraid. But that day finally did become a reality in 2009 when the LTTE’s guns were silenced, although it was at a cost to all citizens.

Fallen Leaves is both a look at the past years and a tribute to those fallen heroes, friends and family that never made it. They take on the voices of people from across the divide and speak of the incredible loss everyone suffered. It is also a reminder that guns don’t solve problems, but creates more hardships for everyone.

Part I focuses on the JVP years while Part II looks at the LTTE conflict.

 

Featured

Fireflies & Fairy Dust: A Fantasy Anthology. Pre-order Now!

My flash story Things That Happen in the Night is in Fireflies and Fairy Dust: A Fantasy Anthology. Published by Eu-2 Publishing it will be launched on March 1, 2018. Now available for pre-order.

 

Movie Poem: Chant of a Million Women

This is a short “movie poem” of the title poem Chant of a Million Women, that I released at the end of my book launch on August 22, 2017.

The history of my Chant

The book launch for Chant of a Million Women concluded a little while ago. I’ll share a little bit of the history of my book.

 

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Chant of a Million Women has been in the making for about five years. I never thought the poems here would be part of a collection because when I started writing poetry I had no objective of publishing collections that were theme based. My poems are on diverse topics that are as far off as the sun and the moon. I was submitting to literary journals and anthologies and it was very encouraging to have many poems published.

But as I started accumulating more poems I realized that the only way I could keep track of all the poems was to separate them into themes. I was already finding it quite tiresome to wade through folders to find poems to submit to journals. Separating them into themes and sub – themes was definitely the way to go. I found some themes had more poems while some, less. Soon sub themes were merged or changed and I had about four themes.

The strongest was about women.

I had enough for a chapbook but I didn’t want to publish this collection as a chapbook because I realized that there were more stories I needed to tell in verse; stories that were getting written down in my mind. All I needed was to get my lines organized to write them down.

By the end of 2015 I had my collection. I took the name of one of the poems as the title of the book – Chant of a Million Women – because this is not just poems about women. It is about our stories, our lives, our loves and losses. It is about the despair and heartache we face as well as the humiliation, violence at the hands of our male peers and family and friends. It is also about the strength we have within ourselves even at the most trying times and of our ability to stand up for ourselves and our beliefs.

Several incidents that took place around me influenced my thinking. The horrendous gang rape of a young girl in Delhi and the lukewarm response to the child that was raped, the vehement outcry against a Tunisian woman from Femen for exposing her body in public, young girls caught up in the war in the Middle East and most terrible of all, the attempt to stone a defenseless Sri Lankan woman working in Saudi Arabia for allegedly having an affair out of marriage, and several others became topics to explore issues of violence against women, exploitation and patriarchy.

Yet everything is not dark and dreary. There are moments of fun and amusement and also power and strength of women who not only rise up like the lotus rising from the mud, but they also play equal if not superior to the male.

It is a chant.

And now I bring it to you. Seventy three poems about, and, for women, that were influenced by women – mostly unknown women, sit within the folds of the cover.

Take them as you will. You may see your reflection in some or recognize a friend in another. They travel from history, through continents and time. They are a chant that bubbles low at times but roars at others.

 

“My body is my temple.

Enter with reverence.”

 

Published and In Stores Now!

Chant of a Million Women is now available in stores worldwide.

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Launching tomorrow – Chant of a Million Women

Come join me for the virtual worldwide launch of my poetry book Chant of a Million Women. All you need is a device with an internet connection and a Facebook account. Check the times for your area. See you tomorrow. Image may contain: text

Co host for the Launch: Audrey Barber

The fourth amazing woman joining me as co host at my launch of Chant of a Million Women.

Audrey Barber

Image may contain: 1 person, smilingAudrey Barber is the founder member of Silent Women Saving Women (SWSW) and an hotelier based in the Middle East. In January 2000 her life changed when she and her fiancée were attacked by a group of six men. Her fiancée fought off the men and her life was saved. But his wasn’t, and he died in her arms at the hospital. That experience left her shattered but she didn’t give up the fight for justice. Five years later the attackers were sentenced to death. Audrey made up her mind to fight for others who didn’t have a voice.

Volunteering at various charities and centres for women and children she came across many young girls who were abused, raped and molested and some even committing suicide as a result of the trauma they faced. Joining with women in the Middle East who had experienced similar tragedies and atrocities she formed SWSW, a group of women from the Middle East actively working towards uplifting the lives of women and young girls who have been abused and exploited, turning her tragic story into one of hope for many other women.

After seeing a 14 year old Yemeni girl who had been sold off to a 41 year old man brought to the child welfare center brutally raped with acid thrown on her private parts, she decided to act. The girl didn’t survive but Audrey vowed she would do whatever she could to help such girls to get an education and live the life they rightfully deserved.

She visited Yemen to meet other women who are “doers” and strengthened SWSW. When SWSW becomes aware of any child about to be sold, or sold as a child bride it intervenes making contact with the Man or his counter-parts/family and negotiate a reasonable price for the child to be given to SWSW. The child is taken out of the country and brought to the specific location where she is treated/checked by a doctor within the group. The child is provided shelter and counselling as well as placed in a local school. This is for children who have not been raped or sexually assaulted. For those who have been molested, raped, sexually abused the process is more intense because apart from medical attention they also require assistance in dealing with trauma, as these girls are physically and emotionally destroyed.

SWSW has now extended its work beyond Yemen and work in Egypt, Afghanistan and several other mid-eastern countries. SWSW is not affiliated to any organization or human rights group. It is merely a group of women who have endured atrocity and trauma who have come together to help other women and save girls. The work it does is self funded.

Audrey has two wards – two Afghan sisters she rescued. The elder was raped by her uncle and the other is just 5 years old. Both girls are orphans but are now leading a happy life. They will be handed over to the state since she is a single female and a non Muslim and therefore cannot adopt, according to the law of the land.