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133

Victim and Accused

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Ravinthiran, V. (2021). Victim and Accused. , 154, pp. 133-156

134

On the Amnesty International website, the Tamil poet Cheran explains he has ‘no naive hope or belief that my poetry can turn the world upside down’; nevertheless, ‘words and imagination are my weapons. I have no other. There are several poems in my collections on disappearances evoking the friends I have lost.’ Even his more atmospheric, less clearly political poems speak of yearning and loss:

Ask
me,
when the last train of the evening has gone
and the railway lines shiver and break in the cold,
what it is to wait with a single wing
and a single flower.

—p.134 by Vidyan Ravinthiran 1 year, 9 months ago

On the Amnesty International website, the Tamil poet Cheran explains he has ‘no naive hope or belief that my poetry can turn the world upside down’; nevertheless, ‘words and imagination are my weapons. I have no other. There are several poems in my collections on disappearances evoking the friends I have lost.’ Even his more atmospheric, less clearly political poems speak of yearning and loss:

Ask
me,
when the last train of the evening has gone
and the railway lines shiver and break in the cold,
what it is to wait with a single wing
and a single flower.

—p.134 by Vidyan Ravinthiran 1 year, 9 months ago
136

There are moments when prose turns to poetry; when, reading a novel or a story, a sentence acts like a trapdoor you tumble through into a history previously unglimpsed, or (it could be one and the same) the injured textures of your own life. The eye that skims from page to page is swapped out, you feel it has to be, for the ear that listens. After over three hundred pages of realist prose about life in a mid-nineteenth-century Midlands town, Eliot writes a sentence of prose that’s also a line of poetry. As sounds converge (‘grass’ and ‘grow’, ‘hear’ and ‘heart beat’), time itself becomes audible; ‘silence’ itself sings, rhyming with ‘like’, ‘die’, ‘lies’ and ‘side’. Reading this passage by a Victorian novelist, I’m once again with my mother at the end of that pier in Greece, past nightfall – listening, listening.

—p.136 by Vidyan Ravinthiran 1 year, 9 months ago

There are moments when prose turns to poetry; when, reading a novel or a story, a sentence acts like a trapdoor you tumble through into a history previously unglimpsed, or (it could be one and the same) the injured textures of your own life. The eye that skims from page to page is swapped out, you feel it has to be, for the ear that listens. After over three hundred pages of realist prose about life in a mid-nineteenth-century Midlands town, Eliot writes a sentence of prose that’s also a line of poetry. As sounds converge (‘grass’ and ‘grow’, ‘hear’ and ‘heart beat’), time itself becomes audible; ‘silence’ itself sings, rhyming with ‘like’, ‘die’, ‘lies’ and ‘side’. Reading this passage by a Victorian novelist, I’m once again with my mother at the end of that pier in Greece, past nightfall – listening, listening.

—p.136 by Vidyan Ravinthiran 1 year, 9 months ago
141

he darkness my voice disappeared into that day, reading my poems onstage, could to some extent be medicated away (I was put on antidepressants); it could be partially explained without reference to racism or the intergenerational terrors which, like a set of rogue genes, get passed down from Tamil parents to their children. My counsellor suggested my mother was overattentive to me as an infant. As soon as I declared a need – maybe, even prior to this, before baby Vidyan began to cry – she rushed in to placate me. As a result, I never learned to entrust myself to the darkness which, should I only hold out, would conjure her, a duration in which I might learn to self-soothe. Instead I came to feel that, without an immediate response, I must be alone.

i guess i have the opposite problem lol

—p.141 by Vidyan Ravinthiran 1 year, 9 months ago

he darkness my voice disappeared into that day, reading my poems onstage, could to some extent be medicated away (I was put on antidepressants); it could be partially explained without reference to racism or the intergenerational terrors which, like a set of rogue genes, get passed down from Tamil parents to their children. My counsellor suggested my mother was overattentive to me as an infant. As soon as I declared a need – maybe, even prior to this, before baby Vidyan began to cry – she rushed in to placate me. As a result, I never learned to entrust myself to the darkness which, should I only hold out, would conjure her, a duration in which I might learn to self-soothe. Instead I came to feel that, without an immediate response, I must be alone.

i guess i have the opposite problem lol

—p.141 by Vidyan Ravinthiran 1 year, 9 months ago