Warriors by Sundra Lawrence
Comes with an Aryamati Prize postcard, with exclusive artwork by Chinatsu Sunaga.
Aryamati Poetry Prize winner 2021
These selected poems are a brave testimony to Sundra Lawrence’s linguistic ambitions. The pamphlet spans a thirty-year history, against the shadow of the Sri Lankan civil war, told from the voices of first and second generation British Tamils. We are privy to a poetic sensibility that seamlessly interweaves themes of migration and conflict with empathy and a deftness of touch. Lawrence peels back layers of cultural identities, shifting through zones of language; forging new identities in found locations; to saving “the seconds/ that slip into the soil” of early motherhood, to “100,000 books burning to black pollen” to “love in a two-star hotel off the Harrow Road”. This collection holds a candle to the dark, brimming with courageous and complex love.
“In Warriors, Sundra Lawrence takes us into Tamil culture, the Sri Lankan civil war, and her life, in language that is tangible, evocative and visceral. There are moments here that will have you holding your breath; moments that will make you smile too. We are indeed ‘lucky monarchs’ to have these superb poems.”
- Rishi Dastidar
“Warriors, Sundra Lawrence’s new poetry pamphlet, puts her on the literary map, following in Malika’s Kitchen poetic footsteps of Malika Booker’s Pepper Seed and Jacob Sam-La Rose’s Breaking Silence. Warriors is part history lesson, part family memoir, part travel diary, all threaded together like a well-fitted jacket. The delicious word choices, the clever line breaks, the riveting stories and the striking lines, like “Cut the island and it will bleed music”-- this brilliant short collection makes the reader beg for more.”
- Peter Kahn
"In this stunning book, Sundra Lawrence traces personal and collective histories in the rings of trees, in burning books remembered, in family medicines, in song. These poems find an everyday language for rage and for compassion: they stand as acts of memorial and care."
"At once personal and public, these beautifully crafted poems are from the heart and will open hearts. Poems about family, food and love sit alongside poems which are open in telling the truth of the war in Sri Lanka, without brutality or polemic. And every page sings with the love of language”.
- Seni Seneviratne, Shash Trevett, Vidyan Ravinthiran (co-editors - Bloodaxe anthology of Sri Lankan Poetry)
Somewhere in Normandy
The dads are dancing. Their wrists, hips
polish the air, metronome feet wake dirt,
lost in Baila’s six-eigthth beat. It’s summer.
Us kids are holding down picnic blankets,
we pick at sambal so hot it breaks plastic.
Away from uncle’s high-rise outside Paris,
the mums talk Tamil. I listen to its song,
chew straw, suck the memory of orange.
The music of Mozambique slaves, who were
shipped by the Portuguese to fight Lankan kings,
stays in the ear of Sinhalese, Tamil, Burghar,
Muslim, and Kaffir Sri-Lankans for all parties.
Before the war, they said Batticaloa Lagoon fish
would sing. Cut the island and it will bleed music.