Lost Evenings, Lost Lives

Author: Lost Evenings, Lost Lives poets

Translator: Sascha Ebeling and Lakshmi Holmström

Original language: Tamil

Published by: Arc Publications, 2015

The poems in Lost Evenings, Lost Lives, a bilingual anthology of Tamil poetry relating to the war in Sri Lanka, are arranged in chronological order with the aim of charting some of the main events which occurred during the course of nearly thirty years of war, and which the 32 anthologised poets record as vivid eye-witness accounts: for example, the 1983 pogrom which began in Colombo and spread all over the island, targeting Tamil civilians including tea-plantation workers; the brutal intervention of the Indian Peacekeeping Force; the increasing violence by the Tamil Tigers including the ethnic cleansing of the Tamil Muslims; the uneasy cease-fire brokered by the Norwegians in 2002; the final massive attack against the north of the island by the Government in 2008; and the last terrible months, ending, officially, on 18 May 2009, when the last village held by the Tamil Tigers was captured by the Sri Lankan army. These poems reflect the pain and trauma of the day-to-day experience of war as the Tamil people lived through them – the terror, the constant presence of danger, the fear of rape, the sudden disappearances, the death of loved ones, displacement, exile – but they also express courage and hope. Together, these poems can be read as an alternative history of the war.

With an introduction by the editors and translators, Lakshmi Holmström and Sascha Ebeling, outlining the historical and political context of Sri Lanka’s war while at the same time mapping literary developments during this period, Lost Evenings, Lost Lives is a necessary and long-overdue volume whose many and varied voices will demand to be heard and will continue to resonate with the reader.