like the gravid if sledgehammer-obvious nightmare.
Your body walks in completely naked.
This is how you prefer to clean the bathroom
and though my plan was for inertia
I understand today we’re to redeem the time.
The sound of the curtains yanked apart
is the morning clearing its throat.
– the word’s on the tip of your tongue
(or, as you say it, tong), as we take tea.
Waiting for you to speak, I sip mine:
Tetley’s tastes of nothing, but I suppose
it’s good to know true flavourlessness,
the prose of life we sugar over with verse.
Ceylon you say – a trochee not an iamb –
referring to the drink I drink
with two spoonfuls at home and, here, none.
Though by ‘home’, I mean the house
my parents live in and where I grew up;
like, and unlike, them saying ‘back at home’
when they intend Sri Lanka, and not Leeds
where they live and I haven’t, not for years.
The ﬂat was opposite a nightclub.
Yelling, vomit, and the bass. We couldn’t sleep
but made the best of it. One evening,
early evening, warm from a crucial nap
we heard a noise and looked down from
the Juliet balcony, on the gamboge courtyard.
It was the longest day of summer. A fellow with a beard
and a dishdasha – the kind of man I fear
my Hindu dad would call a bloody kaka –
held the controls, as hither and thither
the red-black drone whirred through the air.
After it waddled his happy toddler,
round-faced and uncertain as a kitten
lightly tortured, lovingly, with a piece of string.
My Sri Lankan family
extends its electronic tentacles across the ocean.
From the outskirts of Sydney, my cousin
Skypes my uncle in Colombo every day.
My parents live in Leeds, just two hours away,
but here they are, trying to ﬁx the mic.
She tells you at length about her divorced friend
who’s lonely and whose dog began to bite:
‘Its name was Willow, it was a long WILLOW-type dog.’
Crisply, he explains: ‘It’s a greyhound.’
They’re keen to know our plans. Someone has wed
‘another Tamil, and of the same caste. Just like back
at home – it’s so primitive – on our small island:
is the girl even happy?’ And my mother: ‘you do not know that,
they are VERY VERY ASIANS. She is on my Facebook.’
11 Today / Aubade
12 Sea break / Hazlitt
13 Frost / The armchairs
14 Learning / Jigsaw
15 Riposte / Fiction
16 Hail / Nothing can be sole or whole…
17 Ceylon / DH1
18 Our ﬁrst house / A gift
19 You’ve been teaching me / BAME
20 Thought experiment / An email
21 In this room / Children say the funniest things
22 There are things / Sometimes
23 Who am I / No
24 Leeds / In my father’s room I discover
25 Peak District / Clouds, two (Borges feat. Kolatkar)
26 Leviathan / That said
27 She / She
28 The Indian grandfather / John Addington Symonds
29 Lingerie / Safe words
30 Don’t stop / i.m. Steve Hilton
31 Outside the Hanuman temple / I mention it
32 Parental advice / Worry
33 I’ve noticed something / Conversation
34 The fight / Afterwards
35 Larkin / The poem of happiness
36 Strictly / Titian
37 Paatti / Today
38 Brexit / Leave
39 In the mixed area / Inspiration
40 Mercy invincibility / Another side effect
41 In my family / Unlike some
42 From the window / That hand
43 We’re / And so
44 from the Tamil / Let
45 Dubrovnik / Trust
46 My body is a cage / Transition
47 Tough mudder / This is not a photograph
48 Faraj / It’s a dark
49 Whoever you are / Haircut
50 My parents and I / My Sri Lankan family
51 Swedenborg / Union
52 It’s not about you / Barrett/Browning
53 In the bubble / The hearing aid
54 New Year’s Eve / Driving
55 This book / Mother and sister
56 The X-Files / Contrarieties
57 In films / We’re moving on
58 Birmingham / Of justice
59 Trying / Artist
60 It must be / Spring
From the reviews of Grun-tu-molani:
'As a very rare kind of British poet indeed - one from a Sri Lankan background readers might expect Vidyan Ravinthiran to have a lot of important things to say. He does, but, like Oscar Wilde, whom this witty and ambitious debut quotes twice, Grun-tu-molani also delights in wrong-footing expectations of earnestness' – Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times.
'“Grun-tu-molani” is borrowed from Bellow’s phrase meaning “man wants to live” and Ravinthiran’s verse seems driven by a comparably urgent impulse, to perfect his craft. From translations of ancient Tamil texts to contemporary riffs on recession and technology, he combines formal range with wit as well as moral, sensual and emotional complexity' – Maria Crawford, The Financial Times, Summer books 2014.
'Grun-tu-Molani brings a light touch and a sometimes damning elegance to subjects including MTV, a chair addressing Jackie Chan, the Tamil Tigers, militarism and the purpose of money – recalling the early Michael Hofmann as he does so, which is a good sign' – Sean O'Brien, The Independent.
‘Gripping is not a word you usually associate with poetry, but Vidyan Ravinthiran’s poems are precisely that, and they seldom let go. They are full of surprising turns (and turns of phrase), and their humour can make you squirm, as humour should… A ferocious intelligence is at work in these poems, whose stylish armoured exterior reflects sometimes a literary scholar and sometimes a displaced person; sometimes contemporary Britain and sometimes ancient Sri Lanka’ – Arvind Krishna Mehrotra.
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