Lost Evenings, Lost Lives poets

The 32 poets in this anthology are drawn from both older and younger generations of Tamil poets and from all the main religions of the region and they are represented here by poems covering the years 1977-2014, from the beginning of the conflict to the ‘peace’ of the post-war years. Thus, there are nearly three decades of war separating the poets born before 1955 (among them M.A. Nuhman, A. Jesurasa, A. Sankari, Captain Vaanathi, Dushyanthan, Urvashi, K.P. Aravinthan, S. Vilvaratnam, S. Sivasegaram, V.I.S. Jayapalan and Thirumaavalavan), some of whom lived through the entire period but still remembered a time of peace and idyllic beauty, and the younger poets born in the thick of the war who lived through the years of conflict as children and young adults. Among these younger poets are P. Ahilan, Avvai, Anaar, Aazhiyaal, Balassoorian, Cheran, Faheema Jahan, Theeva Abira, Theebachelvan, Sharmila Seyyid, Malathi Maithri, Karunakaran, Kutti Revathi, Rishan Sareef, Ravikumar, Rashmi and Thamilini.

Two of the anthologised poets, Vaanathi and Vilvaratnam, died during the war or immediately after, and a number of poets, including Aazhiyaal, K.P. Aravinthan (until his death in 2015), Avvai, Balassoorian, Cheran, Jayapalan, Rashmi, Theva Abira, Thirumaavalavan and Urvashi fled Sri Lanka as political refugees during the period of conflict, and now live (and write) as part of an international diaspora.

Women’s voices, those of A. Sankari, Sivaramani, Aazhiyal, Anaar, Avvai, Kutti Revathi, Sharmila Seyyid, Faheema Jahan, Latha, Malathi Maithri, Sukirtharani, Thamilini and Urvasi (among whom are a number of activists) are well represented in this anthology in poems which tell of the experiences of women during the war – of the break-up of families, of separation and death, of loss of home and property, of rape and other forms of violence against women – as well as in love poems, open in their expression of love and desire.

Other poetic voices which come to the fore in this anthology are those of the young Tamil Muslims, among them Solaikili, Rashmi, Anaar and Sharmila Seyyid, in poems that express the sorrow and suffering of the Muslim population of Sri Lanka as a result of their persecution and expulsion from their homeland in the north of the island by the Tamil Tigers in 1990.