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The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here | Bloodaxe Books
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Vidyan Ravinthiran

The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here

Vidyan Ravinthiran

Publication Date : 20 Jun 2019

ISBN: 9781780374765

Pages: 65
Size :216 x 138mm
Rights: World

Poetry Book Society Recommendation

Shortlisted for the 2019 Forward Prize for Best Collection

Shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize 2019

Vidyan Ravinthiran’s second collection is a book of sonnets for his wife. These are love poems that turn analytical, consider the world, and in which the pronoun ‘we’ aspires to stand for a larger community, including (if you like) the readers themselves. Many describe life in northern England for a mixed-race couple, considering both the redemptive force of love and the cultural origins of our discontent.

Brexit; racist and sexist abuse; class; our work-life balance, and our relationship with institutions (be it our employer, or the NHS); taboos surrounding mental health; civil war in Sri Lanka; media representation of minorities; immigrant anxieties: these poems look inward, but also outward. Worrying at the link between society and our private lives, they scorn a politics which would put us in separate boxes. Love, and imagination, may not conquer all, but as recent shocks suggest, ‘we’ must at least try to understand people different from us.

'To commit an entire collection to the sonnet is a brave act. It shows not just trust in one's abilities but also a humility before the form that any kind of success demands. Few have achieved this in many years but The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here offers an object lesson in finding the scope of the modern sonnet, and using it to record the beauty, sadness, and complexity of the everyday.' - John Burnside, Chair of Judges, T S Eliot Prize 2019

'My personal favourite... is Vidyan Ravinthiran’s The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here, a wonderful sonnet sequence which, as its title implies, is a little bit about everything, including wrens and whimbrels.' - Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times, reviewing the ten titles shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize 2019.

‘The sonnet can miniaturise whole worlds in 14 lines. Two virtuoso sequences... this year were Mimi Khalvati’s Afterwardness (Carcanet) and Vidyan Ravinthiran’s The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here (Bloodaxe).’ – Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times (Best Poetry of 2019)

‘Every poem in Ravinthiran’s second collection is a sonnet addressed to his wife, but here is no lack of variety in topic or tone. From interracial love to Sri Lanka’s civil war, mental health to Brexit, the range itself speaks of the ideal spouse: the person with whom we can talk about absolutely anything.’ – Maria Crawford, Financial Times (Best Poetry Books of the Year 2019)

‘Also on the shortlist [for the Forward Prize for Best Collection] is another collection that approaches divisive politics with humanity and warmth: Vidyan Ravinthiran’s The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here. Formally assured but far from formulaic, this book of sonnets for the poet’s wife is testament, at its best, to the ways in which poetry can reach from the particular to the universal. Moving and inviting in their conversational ease, Ravinthiran’s sonnets stretch from the grounding details of life for a mixed-race couple in England today… to thoughtfully touch on themes of identity, class, work and community.’ – Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian

‘…Ravinthiran’s second collection is a sequence of loose, warm love sonnets to his wife… The outside world leaks through in nods to Brexit and his Sri Lankan family, Larkin and Borges, Super Mario and The X-Files.’ – Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph

'These poets are all, in their own ways, political. Race, the body, feminism, gender, the environment, identity, state violence – all these subjects are explored in different ways. Their work pushes at the edges of what a book of poems can be. To read their words is to be brought tidings of the fragile, fraught times we live in that the language of the news bulletins cannot quite convey.' - Guardian editorial on some of the books up for the 2019 Forward Prizes for Poetry - including Vidyan Ravinthiran's Best Collection-shortlisted The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here

'In these days of polemical identity assertion it’s refreshing to read a book whose explorations of identity and relationship are as generous, subtle and sensitively enquiring as these....The heart of the volume is the thoughtfulness with which personal difficulties are related to wider issues, the intimacy with which personal vulnerabilities are revealed, the radiance of the love breaking through clouds of difficulty and distraction, and the generosity of spirit looking with an equal eye at the poet’s own experience and that of other people.' - Edmund Prestwich, PN Review

'The poet’s domestic introspection is no less than a conduit for contemplation of the troubles which define many lives. And in this fine collection, they include racism… cultural dislocation, mental illness, politics and identity... Vidyan Ravinthiran’s collection is both bracing and complex, and it is difficult to give a comprehensive review of such a diversionary, inclusive body of work without venturing into essay territory.' – Steve Whitaker, The Yorkshire Times [on The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here]

‘This is a collection both about the particulars of shared domestic life, and one charged with greater, uninvited, forces. It is about the persistence of that love, and how it might be brought to bear on the wider world; how the intercultural understanding which exists in a couple, if scaled up, has the power to make the world anew, to bring into being new and wondrous modes of coexistence.’ – Stephanie Sy-Quia, Poetry School [on The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here]

'In The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here, Vidyan Ravinthiran weaves the personal and the political into a tender, honest consideration of our relationships. Despite our dividedness, he concludes that love will have to be enough.' - John Field (reviewer for the T S Eliot Prize 2019 shortlist)

‘…calm, compassionate, verging on the wise…The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here is a book very much powered by seeing – fierce seeing; it can feel at points that little – nothing? – escapes the poet’s eye’ – Rishi Dastidar, Under the Radar

'Through these beautiful poems of love and the domestic, we encounter the wider world; its racism, its parents, its day-to-day minutiae of living... There is violence lurking here too, a history which keeps threatening to break out from the tight lines and, alongside love, we are asked to consider the value of art, and of politics as well; the ultimate effect and feeling is one of radical sincerity as we move through the collection. Larkin, who gives this collection its title, was a poet who was never afraid to reach towards "Poetry", towards the transcendent truth of the perfectly-selected image. He does not go un-critiqued within this collection, but this is a collection with that same sincere belief in the power of language to capture a feeling precisely.' – Andrew McMillan, PBS Bulletin
 

Vidyan Ravinthiran talks about The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here

Vidyan Ravinthiran discusses his collection The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here following its shortlisting for the 2019 T.S. Eliot Prize.

 

Vidyan Ravinthiran reads ‘New Year's Eve’

Vidyan Ravinthiran reads and introduces his poem ‘New Year's Eve’ from his T.S. Eliot Prize-shortlisted collection The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here.

 

Vidyan Ravinthiran reads ‘Sea break’

Vidyan Ravinthiran reads and introduces his poem ‘Sea break’ from his T.S. Eliot Prize-shortlisted collection The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here.


 

  

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Reviews, interviews & poem features for Vidyan Ravinthiran's second collection; Poetry Books of the Year in the FT & The Sunday Times; T S Eliot Prize Readings highlig...

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