New Ceylon Writing

“Colombo” is published in issue 6 of New Ceylon Writing. You can find it on page 27 here or read it below.

 

Colombo – by Shirani Rajapakse

 

Prescription walkers

huff and puff their way to good health,

proud of the city’s walkways,

the affluent thrusting their

jelly bellies ahead

as they valiantly attempt to compete

with young trendsetters

their ears blocked to reality,

sweating it out by

lakes and parks dressed

in designer clothes stretched taut

across wobbly frames.

They do their thing,

walking, strutting on legs

that can barely hold so much weight,

serious looks on smug faces,

while community dogs stare in amusement,

calling out to friends to come

observe the show.

 

There’s a whole generation grown up

on an unhealthy lifestyle, unable to cope,

a last bid to get their act together or

face the consequences,

sprawled on a bed with tubes sticking out

from every corner

while they gasp out in agony and plead

to every God known to man

for a second chance.

 

Yet hospitals are overcrowded.

 

They are as popular as

restaurants and watering holes.

Every minute someone’s sick, every minute

someone needs medical attention, and

every minute someone dies in

a lonely old home unable to cope, away

from families that have

no use for old flesh anymore.

 

 

 

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.

Launch of Song of Sahel

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.

Signup at http://www.facebook.com/events/455785594445002/

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.

A Gift for Life – Join me in the Song Of Sahel

I’ve been busy working with friends from around the world on a new anthology to be launched next month.  Song Of Sahel brings together some of the artists who collaborated on Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence as well as many new and interesting artists. Song Of Sahel is unique as it is not merely poetry and prose but will include paintings, artwork, music and photography along with poetry and prose. Song Of Sahel will be published by Plum Tree Books as a multi-media kindle and will be available on Amazon. Proceeds of the sales will go to SOS Sahel, an NGO working in the Sahel region of Africa.

The Song Of Sahel is yet another brainchild of my friend Dr. Niamh Clune.  A month ago Niamh decided to bring together a group of artists to produce this unique anthology to help raise awareness and the much needed funds to help the people of the Sahel. Spurred by a poem about the plight of the people in the Sahel by Wayne Tolbert one of our gifted poets, the Song Of Sahel was born.

Why in the world the Sahel? You may ask. And here’s the reason.

Millions of people are affected daily by adverse weather conditions around the world. Yet none are harsher than the severe drought prevailing in the Sahel – a narrow band of semi arid land south of the Sahara. Encompassing countries such as Senegal, Mali, Burkino Faso and Niger the Sahel once boasted of some of Africa’s most influential civilizations. It is today one of the poorest and most environmentally damaged places on earth.

Soil erosion, deforestation, insufficient irrigation, desertification, drought and overpopulation are just some of the problems faced by the people of the Sahel. The incomes of the people have reduced and finding food has become a luxury. Many people are forced to eke out a living outside of their traditional occupations of herding and farming drawing them to the cities where overpopulation creates a whole new set of problems. And as always it’s the children that get affected the most.

Aid agencies based in the Sahel region are working nonstop to help alleviate the suffering of the people of the Sahel. But are we to leave the work to aid agencies alone? Do we merely give a few coins in support to whatever charity and then turn away hoping they do the needful? No. As artists we need to do more. Much more. We may not be able to give much in terms of money but we can together give our talents to make money that will feed the hungry and buy books for the children.

We can help and together we can make a difference.

I ask you, writers, poets, painters, photographers, bards, singers, songwriters, musicians and the occasional town crier to join in with us and help make a difference, even a slight difference in the lives of these people.

You can contribute anything, the only criteria is that it has to be about the Sahel region. Song Of Sahel already includes artists from around the world – from the UK, US, Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Canada, South America, India and Australia who have joined to raise awareness of the plight of the people living in the Sahel.

We are accepting submission until August 15, so hurry and send them in. You can contact us via www.ontheplumtree.wordpress.com on how to make a submission or how to link with us.

Song Of Sahel will be launched worldwide on September 15 at

http://www.facebook.com/events/455785594445002/ 

or www.ontheplumtree.wordpress.com

You can meet some of the artists involved in the project, listen to music composed especially for the event and hear live recordings of some of the poems submitted. You can also listen to a radio broadcast.  The event begins at 10 am GMT and will continue round the clock until 10 am the following day.

I look forward to meeting you.