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Part of: Anar Tour 2021 ‘Leaving’ by Anar - Virtual Event with UCL

Anar is one of Sri Lanka's most celebrated poets. Urgent, embodied and shockingly direct, her work presses into service classical Tamil landscapes, contemporary feminist thought and Koranic imagery to explore the aftermath of the civil war and the subtle terrors of living as a woman in Sri Lanka today. Leaving draws from Anar's five award-winning collections to present a devastating poetic voice for our times. The collection is translated by Hari Rajaledchumy with Fran Lock.

From the harrowing aftermath of the civil war to the subtle terrors of societal expectation, the Anar chronicles female experiences in Sri Lanka today. Her poems avoid neat classifications such as narrative, allegory or lyric, instead, she combines genre and traditions as she sees fit to say whatever needs saying. Her poems draw on a diverse field of reference from classical Tamil mythic landscapes to contemporary feminist thought, from Koranic imagery to personal history.

Join Anar, Hari and Fran for readings in the original Tamil, the English translation of the poems, and discussions about the themes of Anar’s work, Tamil literature and the process of translating her poetry. The event will be chaired by Edward Doegar.

Participant Biographies

Anar (Issath Rehana Mohammed Azeem) is a distinguished voice in the Sri Lankan Tamil poetry scene with five critically acclaimed collections to her name. She has been contributing her poems and articles to literary magazines and national media since the early 90s. Several of her poems have been translated into English and have appeared in anthologies and journals.

Her books have won several awards, most notably the Government of Sri Lanka’s National Literature Award, the Tamil Literary Garden’s Poetry Award (Canada), the Aaathmanam Award (India), the SPARROW Award (India), and the Vijay Award for Excellence in the Field of Literature (India).

Hari Rajaledchumy is an artist/writer currently based in London. Her recent writings have appeared in Manalveedu (India) and Aaakkaddi (France). She worked as a translator on Kim Longinotto’s 2013 documentary film Salma , based on the life and works of the Indian Tamil poet. In 2021, she co-curated the inaugural edition of the QCSL study programme that strengthens queer cultural production within Sri Lanka.

Fran Lock is the author of several poetry collections, including Contains Mild Peril (Outspoken, 2019), Raptures and Captures (Culture Matters, 2019), and The Mystic and the Pig Thief (Salt, 2014). She earned her Ph.D. from Birkbeck College, University of London, focusing on ‘Impossible Telling and the Epistolary Form: Contemporary Poetry, Mourning and Trauma’.

Edward Doegar is the commissioning editor of the Poetry Translation Centre and a consulting editor at The Rialto. He is a fellow of the Complete Works. His recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Poetry Review, The White Review and Tentacular. A pamphlet, made in collaboration with the artist Shakeeb Abu Hamdan, will be published by KELDER PRESS in 2022.

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