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



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


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

Reid Avenue


Photograph curtsey of "Stand Up for Trees" page on Facebook.

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

descended a


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