The sea swallowed the sun
splitting open, spraying
over the clouds.
A Second Sunrise showcases the best poems of Cheran, an accomplished poet of our times. The Sri Lankan civil war looms over much of his work. Poems of the precariousness of love are interwoven with poems of war. The idyllic seascape of 1977 when
Waves lap along the shore
is ruined forever by the experience of war (1981–89). These are followed by poems of exile and the experience of the diaspora (1993–2003).
Now there is left
only a great land
No bird may fly over it
until our return.
Finally, 2004 onwards, there are poems that take us to the devastation of May 2009, by when
The sea has drained away
Tamil has no territory
Kinships have no name.
With such a wide range, translators Lakshmi Holmström and Sascha Ebeling treat each poem both as fresh in its particularity and as part of the poet’s oeuvre. Their English renditions capture the resonances and rhythms that connect Cheran to a long Tamil poetic tradition that spans over two thousand years.
Cheran is a major Tamil poet.
Lakshmi Holmström is an award-winning translator of Tamil fiction and poetry.
Sascha Ebeling is an Assistant Professor of Tamil at the University of Chicago.
‘The poems are like mini-bombs set to blow a hole through your heart. They bear witness to the tragedy of the Sri Lankan civil war’—The Hindu
‘Cheran’s poetry… is deeply human, direct and moving without being sentimental; political without being loud. The translators have been able to capture the mood and the tone and help us imagine the idiom of the original’—The Indian Express