Quantcast

The Poetry Channel with Indran Amirthanayagam

As I took the time before the pandemic to get to know the local poetry community and listen to my fellow poets, I’ve by turns felt inadequate and welcomed. Indran Amirthanayagam has been one of the most open and welcoming poets I’ve met, and he started his own YouTube journey with The Poetry Channel.

Recently, Cornelius Eady has been a feature on the channel, and I wanted to share with you those readings because they are stunning. One of my favorites is “The Racist Bone”:

Yes, even I have been a guest poet on his channel, and I encourage others to send in their own to Indran. He would love more poets who write in languages other than English to submit as well.

Please share in the comments which of these poems were your favorite.

The Migrant States by Indran Amirthanayagam

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 96 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Migrant States by Indran Amirthanayagam is part homage to Walt Whitman and homage to the globetrotter seeking a home in any state or country they land in. Whitman was often fond of wandering by foot, and like many other globetrotters or travelers of today who use planes and other means of travel, the happenstance of meeting others on the road was a call to which they heed. Born in Ceylon, a country Amirthanayagam says no longer exists (it is now Sri Lanka), it is clear that Whitman’s journeys spoke to him and helped him hear the muse for these Migrant states. The reader travels with the poet to Texas, Florida, Lima, and many more states, like Whitman in “Starting from Paumanok.”

In the opening poem, “Mind Breathing,” Amirthanayagam says, “I bear witness to these losses//here as my own attempts to speak, in breaths,/shall infuse a poem able still to coagulate, distill,/strain a few thousand disparate disappearances into verse.//” The reader knows that the poet plans to take us on a journey not only to different geographies but to different states of mind/emotion to ensure that these disappearing migrant states live on and breath. Whitman is always with us on the journey, as he’s recalled by the poet and spoken to about the way things have deteriorated environmentally (plastics in the rivers) in “Ode to and from Whitman.”

Through Amirthanayagam’s journey from punk rocker where he built nothing with a band that only wanted to cover other people’s songs to a “holy” man creating a world of poetry in “When I Left Punk and Took Holy Orders,” readers see that like us, he bucked the system, fought against an establishment. Poetry has a rebellious quality to it even as it is quiet and observing. Many of these poems are quietly rebellious in nature, with just one look at “Written in Advance” (my favorite poem in the collection) recalling the vans that take innocents away for expressing themselves and leaving a poem with editors across the land to tell the true tale.

The Migrant States by Indran Amirthanayagam is a journey into a community that is not housed in one place — it spans the whole of the human race. The poet understands that to commune with others, one must be part of the world, observe, and express the truths that are hardest to hear. To change the world, we must be in it. Engage with it. Mingle with others. Learn together and grow before time is up.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Poet, essayist, and translator Indran Amirthanayagam was born in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He was raised in Sri Lanka, London, and Honolulu. Amirthanayagam has authored numerous poetry collections, including The Elephants of Reckoning (1993), Ceylon, R.I.P. (2001), The Splintered Face (2008), Uncivil War (2013), and Coconuts On Mars (2019). He writes, translates, and publishes poetry and essays in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole.

Mailbox Monday #589

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

My Name Is Immigrant by Wang Ping, which I purchased.

Poetry. Asian & Asian American Studies. Women’s Studies. “Delightful political wit and poetic vision.”—Gary Snyder

“Bleeding dreams and hungry ghosts move about Wang Ping’s latest collection.”—M.L. Smoker

“A moving argument about language and expression.”—Tracy K. Smith

Translation Is a Mode = Translation Is an Anti-neocolonial Mode by Don Mee Choi, which came as a freebie from Tupelo Press.

TRANSLATION IS A MODE=TRANSLATION IS AN ANTI-NEOCOLONIAL MODE explores translation and language in the context of US imperialism–through the eyes of a “foreigner;” a translator; a child in Timoka, the made-up city of Ingmar Bergman’s The Silence; a child from a neocolony.

The Migrant States by Indran Amirthanayagam, which I purchased from Tupelo Press.

Poetry. “A master storyteller representing the high tradition of poetry with dignity and conviction throughout this powerful collection.”—Grace Cavalieri


What did you receive?