Out of Sri Lanka reviews, interviews & books of the year
‘My anthology of the year was Out of Sri Lanka: Tamil, Sinhala and English poetry from Sri Lanka and its diasporas, edited by Vidyan Ravinthiran, Seni Seneviratne and Shash Trevett, which is everything an anthology should be: conscientious, archival, surprising, world-building, full of voices and lives.’ – Jeremy Noel-Tod, Times Literary Supplement (Books of the Year)
Out of Sri Lanka: Tamil, Sinhala and English poetry from Sri Lanka and its diasporas, the first ever anthology of Sri Lankan and diasporic poetry, was published by Bloodaxe in the UK and Ireland in June 2023. It was a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation for Summer 2023. Scroll down to watch videos of in-person and online launch events featuring the editors and poets from the anthology.
The anthology features over a hundred poets writing in English, or translated from Tamil and Sinhala. It brings to light a long-neglected national literature, and reshapes our understanding of migrational poetics and the poetics of atrocity. Poets long out of print appear beside exciting new talents; works written in the country converse with poetry from the UK, the US, Canada and Australia. Poems in traditional and in open forms, concrete poems, spoken word poems, and experimental post-lyric hybrids of poetry and prose, appear with an introduction explaining Sri Lanka’s history.
US distribution is by Consortium Book Sales.
US REVIEW COVERAGE
Harvard Review, online 5 December 2023
A detailed review of Out of Sri Lanka has gone online at Harvard Review. The piece links to two poems by V.I.S. Jayapalan which were translated from Tamil especially for the anthology by co-editor Shash Trevett.
‘The trueness of this anthology lies not just in its celebration of Sri Lanka’s multilingual traditions, but in its recognition that poets writing about the country in various languages and from different locations can converse and, at times, speak as one.’ – Manan Kapoor, Harvard Review
BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2023 FEATURE
The Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year 2023, Friday 17 November 2023
Out of Sri Lanka was chosen by former Sunday Times poetry critic Jeremy Noel-Tod as his anthology of the year in the TLS's Books of the Year feature of 17 November. Jeremy reviewed the anthology on his Some Flowers Soon blog in October - scroll down to read.
‘My anthology of the year was Out of Sri Lanka: Tamil, Sinhala and English poetry from Sri Lanka and its diasporas, edited by Vidyan Ravinthiran, Seni Seneviratne and Shash Trevett, which is everything an anthology should be: conscientious, archival, surprising, world-building, full of voices and lives.’ – Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Times Literary Supplement (Books of the Year 2023)
In print. Also available online.
ONLINE REVIEW COVERAGE
Some Flowers Soon, online Thursday 5 October 2023
The Out of Sri Lanka anthology was well reviewed by former Sunday Times poetry reviewer Jeremy Noel-Tod on his Some Flowers Soon blog on 5 October 2023, National Poetry Day..
‘There are too many books one might pick up to mark National Poetry Day this year, with its theme of Refuge. My recommendation is one of the most important anthologies to have appeared recently: Out of Sri Lanka: Tamil, Sinhala and English Poetry from Sri Lanka and its Diasporas. It’s a huge achievement by its three editors — Vidyan Ravinthiran, Seni Seneviratne and Shash Trevett — who have placed 400 pages of poetry into an enormous gap in Anglophone literary culture.’ – Jeremy Noel-Tod, Some Flowers Soon
Read in full on Some Flowers Soon here.
Wood Bee Poet, online 8 October 2023
An excellent in-depth review of Out of Sri Lanka has gone online on Chris Edgoose’s Wood Bee Poet blog. A very careful, close reading of the anthology.
Out of Sri Lanka was reviewed by Will Mackie in his Summer 2023 New and Recent Poetry from the North feature on the New Writing North website. All three editors either live in or have connections with the North of England.
‘This expansive and exciting anthology is edited by Shash Trevett, Seni Seneviratne and Vidyan Ravinthiran… and includes poems by new poets alongside older work, some of which was previously out of print.’ - Will Mackie, New & Recent Poetry from the North, New Writing North
Read the feature in full here.
US ONLINE INTERVIEW
An interview with all three editors of Out of Sri Lanka went online at Words Without Borders ahead of publication in the USA on 15 August 2023. US distribution is by Consortium Book Sales.
Read online here.
The School Librarian, Winter 2023
An excellent brief review ran in the Winter 2023 issue of The School Librarian.
‘A vast range of subject matter is included, from landscape-pastoral to the horrors of conflict. Valuable not just as a collection of admirable poetry, but also as a historical record, this should be on the shelf of every library.’ – Frank Startup, The School Librarian
In print, or online by subscription.
The North, Issue 69, Autumn 2023
The featured title in the Autumn issue of The North was Out of Sri Lanka – six poems from the anthology were included alongside a brief introductory piece.
In print only.
The anthology was reviewed in the July-August 2023 issue of New Internationalist. In print, and available to read online by subscription here.
‘Out of Sri Lanka’s post-1948 verse defies Anglo-American marginalizations of ‘world poetry’ and demands we encounter this rich body of work as poetry without qualifying adjectives.’ – Orla Polten, New Internationalist
Out of Sri Lanka was reviewed in detail in the PBS Summer 2023 Bulletin. The anthology was a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation for Summer 2023.
'There are angry waves crashing throughout this collection, the reverberations of colonialism and imperialism, swelled into a civil war, factions and the demonising of Muslim communities, yet amid all of this, each poem is a silent dewdrop shining on the Sri Lankan diaspora. A compilation of jasmine in full bloom and honey birds by day.' - Roy McFarlane, PBS Selector, Poetry Book Society Summer Bulletin 2023, on Out of Sri Lanka
IN-PERSON LAUNCH EVENT
GemArts Masala Festival in Newcastle, Thursday 20 July 2023
Out of Sri Lanka anthology editors Vidyan Ravinthiran, Seni Seneviratne and Shash Trevett joined NCLA Director Preti Taneja to discuss the anthology at GemArts' Masala Festival in Newcastle on 20 July 2023. The event featured an exclusive video of contributors to the anthology reading their poems as well as the three poet-editors reading their own poems and those of other contributors to the book.
A detailed review of the 20 June 2023 GemArts Masala Festival launch at NCLA is online at Write Out Loud here.
ONLINE LAUNCH EVENT
York Festival of Ideas, University of York, 8 June 2023
Infinite Remembering: Poetry beyond love and war
Shash Trevett and Vidyan Ravinthiran, two of the Out of Sri Lanka co-editors, joined Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley to discuss this new anthology, which features over 300 poems written in English, or translated from Tamil and Sinhala. They spoke about how this diverse collection brings to light a long-neglected national literature and reshapes our understanding of migrational poetics and the poetics of atrocity. With video readings from some of the poets included in the anthology.
Facilitated by Anthony Vahni Capildeo FRSL, Writer in Residence at the University of York.
A recording of this brilliant event has been made available on the York Festival of Ideas Watch Again page. View video below or go to: https://www.youtube.com/yorkideas
[25 July 2023]