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.
On Basso Profundo, August 11, 2017.
Toward the end of Shirani Rajapakse’s plaintive and eloquent book of poetry, she has a piece called “The Poetess.” In its final lines she writes:
She walked with a spring in her step.
Her expression serious. They turned around
as they saw her pass.
She felt such pride. At last to be known.
Even if to just a few.
They did not know she had
nothing to show.
The last line surprised me, and moved me to immediate disagreement. Chant of a Million Women is certainly a notable achievement: it chronicles so many moods, in so many stories, from ancient Indian epic legends to the insurmountable challenges of every day. It consolidates and focuses our attention on the myriad ways men subjugate and objectify women, and the paltry few effective means women have to fight back. This applies particularly to cultures bound by tradition, such as one finds in India and the Middle East.
And women’s situations are so hopeless in this collection that fighting back isn’t really what it’s about. It’s about maintaining something so basic as one’s identity. So often used as a simple ornament, a status symbol, or property to be hidden away, the women in these poems lose their onetime promising selves to a male society, be it as some idealized – but definitely owned – prize, or a simple, reviled piece of furniture, or worse, a victim of violent crime.
Ms. Rajapakse places her poems in a number of milieux: traditional sexist households, dangerous, sometimes murderous, public thoroughfares, urban settings and rural. Often, no setting is specified, except the consciousness of the dispossessed woman.
A million women would indeed raise this chant. They would be fortunate were they to make it this resoundingly, with such force. The poetess distills their suffering to a specific litany, as though a bell were ringing to toll the offenses, forming a high-relief frieze of the hundreds of thousands of wives, daughters, and princesses whose stunted lives impoverish us all.
This is a distinctive, consistent collection in which the milk of human kindness has no place. Nowhere are the kind whispers of a lover or even the support of a life partner. Ms Rajapakse has consistently chosen her pieces with a eye to the plaints and sorrows of women. I salute the courage with which she lends her voice for the forgotten and uncared-for women suffering in so many places in the world. Take up Chant of a Million Women and experience its elegant phrases and its moral force.
I finished formatting my ebook. Yes, it’s now officially ready for release.
I thought it would be hell since poems have a different way of formatting even if they are all left aligned. I also had several poems running all over the page.
I contacted several book formatters and they gave me all kinds of responses when I sent a list of things I needed done. They all were skeptical, telling me it won’t look like it does on print. One formatter though, assured me he could do it. He even did a sample of one of the poems that has a different look with the lines all over the page. He agreed, but the funny thing was when I uploaded the book he suddenly raised his price from USD 10 to USD 200 giving me reasons that didn’t make sense for that huge price difference.
So there I was stressing out about what to do for two weeks, going up and down with formatters. Should I pay so much to get something done or should I take a chance on someone who was offering much less but cautioned me saying it might not look exactly as I want it to look?
Then a a couple of friends on Facebook assured me that,
a). it was ok if the poems in the ebook didn’t look the same as the print. Because the ereader takes on the frames and needs of the readers including font size and type that can be changed, it will never look exactly the way I want it to, and
b).book formatting was easy and there were several places offering it for free.
That made me decide to do it myself. After all, I did format the book for print and had it on PDF. What could possibly go wrong with the ePUB? I got rid of the unusual formatting for the few poems that had words crisscrossing the pages and made them all left aligned (it would have all become left aligned even if I didn’t change it).
They were right. It wasn’t hard.
I uploaded the book on D2D and after a few changes, it came out looking just the way I wanted. Wasn’t expecting that, but I’m thrilled. I’ve been playing around with the draft, making changes, but it’s done. What a relief.
Next step, uploading the PDF for POD and sending for a sample to check before pressing the publish button.
I launched my crowdfunding campaign to make movie poems today on indiegogo. The poems selected are from my soon to be released poetry collection about women. The 5 poems selected are diverse in theme and are representative of the poetry in the collection.
Join me in bringing these poems to life by funding the campaign. There great perks on offer. Also share the information with anyone interested in funding the campaign.
(Photo courtesy of Warna Hettiarachchi)
What runs through an editor’s mind as she reads a piece of work for the first time? Does she let herself relax into the story like a reader would, or does the editor’s mind take over, hawk eyed, looking for flaws that need to be perfected?
Karen R. Sanderson, my first guest to drop in for a chat is an editor and a published writer. Her debut collection of poems No Boundaries was released last year on CreateSpace and she has plans of publishing short stories too.
Here’s your opportunity to ask everything you want to know from Karen about editing, her book of poems, and anything else about writing.
You have 48 hrs to post your questions. At the end of two days I will stop notifications and hand over to Karen. She will pick a select number of questions and reply to you in the comments. So what are you waiting for? Come on over to my page and get started https://www.facebook.com/shiranirajapakseauthor/
You can view Karen’s profile at https://karenrsanderson.wordpress.com/. or follow her on twitter https://twitter.com/KRS_WordShark . Check out her book here https://www.amazon.com/No-Boundaries-Karen-R-…/…/ref=sr_1_1…
“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
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.
I had the pleasure of getting a pre-release copy of Karen’s book, No Boundaries a few months ago. This is what I wrote about it.
“Sanderson’s book No Boundaries evokes a place in time we can only revisit in words. It’s like being on a long journey. The images and ideas described remain long after we have stepped off the pages. Beautifully crafted, they speak to the heart, from the heart. Sanderson is at her best when writing about love and loss as evinced in ‘Mom and Bocelli’ and ‘I wish I had known you’.”
For those of you interested in poetry, No Boundaries contains an interesting mix of poems. People and places are immortalized on the pages. The images and ideas blend in seamlessly and remain long after you close the book. There is something for everyone.
Here’s one about the military.
Inspired by Kristi P-L, USAF, Iraq 2009-2010
She packed up her comfy jeans and laying-around T-shirts
She shrugged into a heavy canvas uniform,
now her second skin
Boxed up her peep-toe high heels and sandals
and stacked them away
Now all she’s got are dusty high-top boots with heavy tread
No delicate black eyeliner around lovely hazel eyes
Just smudges of purple, her badges of fatigue
No long showers here
Just unshaved legs so she looks like the rest of the troops
Forget salon haircuts with mousse or gel
In marches a permanent helmet-head hairdo
She strains to remember how lovely that last manicure felt
Handling weapons with broken, scraggy fingernails,
unpolished and blunt
Velvety cosmetic powder abandoned at home
She wears the Iraqi desert upon her face
Late night chat-fest nights with friends of her choosing,
Now, it’s early morning wake-up and drill
No delicate sparkling pendants around her neck
Just a dull metal chain with tags that identify
her blood type
While mother’s comforting shoulder and soothing touch
wait at home
She learns combat strategies and
how to react to roadside bombs
Instead of cradling a tiny baby
She crawls into a burdened flak jacket
that hides her girlish figure
She rolls out with a loaded M4 and a 9mm Beretta.
Karen R. Sanderson was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!”
Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, poet, writer, and a fabulous grandma. She completed writing coursework through UCLA and the University of New Mexico. Her short stories have been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine, BewilderingStories.com, and WritingRaw.com.
Karen is currently pursuing a degree at Minot State University and Lake Region State College in Interpreting and Sign Language Studies.
Contact at email@example.com.