Grun-tu-molani by Vidyan Ravinthiran
Vidyan Ravinthiran's much-anticipated first collection contains many poems about Sri Lanka which fuse politics, personal history and myth, yet his voice pitches itself not so much halfway between East and West as between emotional forthrightness and linguistic exuberance. Traditional forms - of culture, of verse - contend with brusquer impulses in an era of technological distortion; without taking himself too seriously, the poet asks if perhaps we don't take ourselves seriously enough. These are poems of impassioned intelligence, which refuse to separate thought and feeling and seek not only to delight and disturb but to work through difficult problems. The intricacies of the modern relationship - the smallest society, a haven of two - are reconnected with the historical world; translations, some from classical Tamil, ask how close two languages or two people can get. Indeed, Grun-tu-molani is concerned throughout with a range of human behaviours common to different societies - the need to assert oneself, save face, explain, and touch; the last of which would not be possible were it not for the distances between us.