Sunday, June 1, 2008

Vivacious Vivimarie.

Nothing Prepares You
By Vivimarie Vanderpoorten
Zeues paperback
Reviewed by DRG

I got a glimpse of this book accidentally when I was doing my routine book search at upsatairs of Sarasavi Book shop, Maharagama. I knew nothing about her or her poetry at that time. But when I read couple of pages of her work I sort of like her stuff and thought of buying it. The main significant quality that strikes my mind about her poetry is the simplicity. The words not forced to appear on behalf of her feelings but just poured out from her pen. Her style is simple and not so flowery. But it’s flamboyant. As an university lectures of English language, I’m kind of surprise to see her choice of words. But thinking about it again understood that I am the person who is ignorant and learning the craft and she just mastered it. Wow! What brilliance…

Cavity (page20)
…I want you to reach across one continent
And two oceans, (from where you’re
Probably still asleep)

And hold my hand.

The Proposal (page 33)
…but today among my e-mails
there’s one from him
Sifting through junk e-mail: offers of endless credit
free porn sites and
drugs to “enlarge your penis”,…

Another main aspect of Viv’s poetry is that the use of her personnel experiences as the plots for her creativity process. The sad times, the happy times, the little romantic ventures in her life. She just uses them to enthrall us in her wordplay. The poems such as “For DS”, “Burial”, “Reward” and wittily written “Single Brown Female, 1998” are few from many examples I can quote to prove my point.

Viv goes in to explore another dimension by dedicating her creative expression and valuable to write about the dilapidating state of our society especially this 20 year long raging war. Her poems don’t discuss the problem straightly but with little bit of creativity and story telling she makes a deep remark in readers’ hearts; “ Death of a Cartoonist”…

Explosion (page 35)
…out of the broken window
of a damaged car-
dead driver-
the radio blared, unscathed
on a commercial break
a man’s pleasant voice
that big or small, insurance
protects them all .


  1. dude nice analysis... except u cant call this a twenty year old ethnic massacre!

    Vr facing terrorists and fytyn for the integrity of our country.

  2. hari hari bawa..hes talkin about the Ethnic Massacre carried out by the LTTE(killing muslims and sinhalese)..any sane person would kno that.. i m glad that he has realized that.


    It's all clear to me that nothing prepares you to understand the nature of the 'ethnic' crisis!

    //Ethnic Massacre carried out by the LTTE(killing muslims and sinhalese)//

    what about July 1983?? wasn't that a genocide?? I'm not supporting he LTTE but one should not fall into a comforting selective amnesia. All massacres/kiilings and acts of violence must be criticized... LTTE is not the only terrorist organization in SL.. Sl Gangment is too a ruthless terrorist organization. Have you not read the recent stories from the east?? The rise of Jihadist Tedencies??? Ethnocentrism is not the answer.. Please realise it at least now
    “Tamils are being discriminated against and are being oppressed by the Sri Lankan state for the simple reason that they were born Tamils. This is an incontrovertible fact. I am not quoting from books or from newspaper reports. Every scar in my body and mind whisper this to me in my ear.”
    - Shoba Sakthi in Lakbima

  4. firstly let me acknowledge the fact that the yes the tamils were discriminated and unfairly treated in the past.. by successive governments playing to the sinhala buddhist racist gallery.. pls see my post entitled Random thoughts on the eve of Wesak.. however the LTTE armed struggle has overtaken that some what legitimate cause and morphed in to a bloodthirsty terrorist organization.. that commits crimes on Tamils a million times worse than the discrimination by the state during the 60's anyways the situation is far improved now and i don't think that any Tamil can claim to be discriminated coz of their ethnicity.. the only thing standing in the way of a settlement at present is the LTTE, a few sinhala racist elements, a few Tamil eelamists predominantly from the diaspora and opportunist political parties.

  5. //tamils were discriminated and unfairly treated in the past//
    so you are saying that Tamils are now enjoying equality and they r being teated fairly??? Oh my gosh, do you live in SL or not..

    //anyways the situation is far improved now and i don't think that any Tamil can claim to be discriminated coz of their ethnicity..//
    here I'm claiming that I'm treated unfair just because of my ethnicity... almost every tamil would admit it..
    even those of who are allied with Gangment would agree with me to some certain extent...
    Read history & news before making such hilarious statements...

  6. The author has tried to give a misleading twist to Vivimarie's ideas and creativity. I've read her poems and though she has tried to generally portray the ugly side of war and terrorism, she has never tried to scope down to a level of accusing one party of ethnic massacre. If you go through the poem "The Death of A Cartoonist" it has not pointed fingers at any one other than the brutality of terrorism
    "YOu were smiling as you walked away, thats the one thought that kept haunting me for months, after the bomb on a train leaving Colombo ripped you apart"

    whcih probably deals with a terrorist bomb that ripped through civilians in Colombo. This will lead to one possible explanation, either the critic is delusional or he really sucks at literature.

    Reply to the above post-
    yes..true..there were ethnic massacres carried out against the Tamils.But it is not quite fair to weigh both GOSL and LTTE in the same platter. We all know that Sri lanka has come a long way from those brutal days of 83' where the GOSL stood still letting ethnic clashes go haywire.And yes there are many civilian casualties in uncleared areas where the LTTE claims that Tamils are killed due to alleged DPU unit and artillery attacks, but that cannot be logged into an act of ethnic massacre.If it was a systematic massacre of Tamils, then there would have been more attacks and killings.

    Yes there can be certain elements in the government which support terror, but that doesn't mean that the whole government is a "Terrorist Organization". And if any one tries to compare LTTE and a democratically elected government which has 28 Tamils and minority members in its parliament, then thats quite biased and pathetic.Yes there are Sinhala Chauvinist factors in the country who has a bigger stake, but that is up to debate and discussion to change those ideas not AK47s or suicide bombs.

    I have read that article on Lakbima and if you think about it, if the government is having terrorist tendencies(as you have mentioned) we would not see that article even coming out(which is highly critical of GOSL). Shobasakthi lashes out against the GOSL,but he too state that the LTTE is the same and in his own words "a fascist machine that oppresses its own people".

    But i think the answer lies in his opening statement.

    "I subscribe to the theories on nationhood set out by great theorists like Marx who is an internationalist and says that a worker has no nation-all the way down to Benedict Anderson, who has described nations as imagined communities. I have no theoretical affinity to Tamil Nationalism"

    And if you think about it, if that goal is to be archived people should be mobilized to defy both sides' racist ideologies. And which one do you think will be more challenging?.. a democratic( at least half democratic) government or an armed terrorist group?

  7. Can u specify how and when tamils are being discriminated at present w/o making sweeping statements... tamils are adequately represented in Parliament on par with their percentage, u can study in ur naitve language right up to university level... so tell me of the horrendous discrimination that tamils face.. ur r the who is not living in sri lanka in 2008.. unfortunately u seem to be stuck in a time warp that hs kept u in the 70's.

  8. Palayan BAWA yanna. 2 weeks ago i went to the Sarasavi Bokkshop @ Maharagama. You may know that it is the biggest book shop in the area. When I was in there, two tamil teenages came and ask about some text books from the sales assistant. She said that go to downstairs and look for it. After some time i also went down stairs for get some stationeries. Then I found out that those teenages looking for their book on the shelf. BUT UNFORTUNATELY ALL THT TAMIL BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE IN THE BOOK STORE IS STORED IN ONE SIDE OF 3*5 FEET WOODEN RACK. So how r u going to prove that they are eually
    benefited like us even though they hav ti run around all colombo to find a text book if they are living in suburbs with the majority?????

  9. and BAWA when you are commenting about aesthetic stuff please put down your political shades for while and try to look at it little bit artistically rather than narrowing everything down to your political framework...

  10. DRG ever hrd the saying selling fridges to Eskimos.. am not surprised that all the tamil books in Maharagama are stacked on a small shelf at the corner of the store.. how many tamils are there livin in maharagama, how many of them actually come to sarasavi which is known as a specialist in sinhala lit to buy tamil books...

    it like expecting to find a bookstore dedicated to sinhala lit. in kilinochchi... obviously if u went to a bookstore in colombo u wuld find that tamil books are more
    prominently displayed.... try to be more holistic in your approach to analyzing the ethnic situation in sri lanka as it is a sensitive issue and irresponsible statements will only fan the flames of racism.. btw i was not playing politics with ur post merely noting that you had referred to the war on a terror group incorrectly.. and i do not own any political shades.. as you knw very well i am a non partisan political analyst which u will be able to deduce from my posts.. if u can analyze them properly and not make the same myopic assumption u made at the sarasavi in maharagama..

  11. dude..DRG...please read my post..before jumping cues and commenting selectively. Can you justify your ethnic massacre theory on that poem? I don't think so. and please do not make fact less statements and childish allegations(such as your hilarious saraavi discovery!!). What you are doin is just finding some kind of dumb excuse to justify your horrendous only make a fool out of yourself, please at least respect your credentials..(haha maharagama Sarasavi..!) and please i expect you to put forward some logical and realistic facts when making an argument. Even Unbound Urchin has constructive critisism..!

  12. Bawa,
    it seems like we are going totally off-topic, anyway, let me have my say;
    //specify how and when Tamils are being discriminated//
    It's not my job to educate you or update you with recent developments in the N/E. Visit places like ICES, SSA, CPA to find out what the whole problem is about.. Have you not noticed how systematically this government tries to colonialise tamil/muslim areas... Not only tamils but also muslims do suffer this Sinhala nationalistic propaganda.. Why muslims are now resorting to Jihadist/Wahabist nationalisms? they've numerous documentations with them.. if you only could go to Ampara and pay a visit to Centre for Minority Discourses you'll know the tales behind Pottuvil etc. But you guys stuck here in Colombo and indulged in this illusionary cyberspace will never hesitate to make foolish, unrealistic claims!!!

    //tamils are adequately represented in Parliaments//
    You mean those puppets?? Then why did Sri Lankan forefathers fought for freedom when they were given 'adequate' seats in 'Ceylon' Parliament. It's not about sharing a cake man; it's about running your own bakery!!!

    //You r not the who is not living in Sri Lanka in 2008, unfortunately u seem to be stuck in a time warp that has kept you in the 70's//
    I do agree with you.. You guys bloody well can 'afford' '2008 of Sri Lanka' whereas we, the majority of Sri Lanka (this includes the poor and marginalised Sinhala brothers and Sisters) are still unable to 'buy' '2008 of Sri Lanka'!!!
    We are still stuck in the time warp of early 70s, you can say that.. Why can't you??
    With all these digital/political/development-wise divides (worsened by elitist circles of Colombo) we are here stuck into some bygone era...unable to read poetry which receives gift from Standard Charted, unable to attend Barefoot sponsored Galle Literary orgy etc...

  13. Realskullzero, You seem to have a balanced opinion here, but neutrality does not exist in the face of brutality and terror. You can’t be neutral on a moving train, says Howard Zinn, the great American historian.
    You quote Shoba here but that misses the juxtaposition of the following; //“However, in Sri Lanka, the reality is that as long as Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism is intact, for the sake of peace, security and dignity, Tamils and Muslims have no choice but to resort to nationalist ideologies.”// Got it?
    Your viewing angle (towards LTTE) is brilliantly framed by the mainstream media. If you look into their structure, there’s a possibility for some change.. There are numerous activists who try to bring out internal democracy in that organization (but I should admit they fail miserably at the end.)
    but, when you can say that your Gangment has come so far from the days of 83, why LTTE cannot say that it has come so far from the days of assassinating dissidents? Your’s was a ‘democratically elected’ government and they are just a rebel group… They have my sympathy on this regard…
    like shopa sakthi, I hate nationalism, ethnocentrism and everything related to these petty isms. I’m more of a post-modernist in this regard celebrating differences and fragmentation… but, it doesn’t blur the reality of this country!!

    //these cannot be logged into the category ‘ethnic massacre’//
    Have you read the ACF killings, the assassination of five university freshmen in Trincomalee?? All of them are pre-planned and well-supported by top brass of SL gangment!! For us they are not the tit-for-tat killings…
    You may ask, killing 5 persons? is it what you call an ethnic cleansing???? Yes it is!! this event causes fear among the parents who have young sons.. This fear results in massive number of potential Tamil youth fleeing away the country in the guises of student visa, work visa etc.. some even bribe agencies and seek asylum…
    Then they get brides from here… and then gradually the entire clan migrates to some other foreign country!!!
    Minority shrinks into even smaller minority… Government dedicatedly encourages this process…

  14. Unbound Urchin,

    I doubt if the CPA, ICES and the res of the NGO mafia actually give two hoots about whats happening in Sri Lanka, so it's highly unlikely that their statistics on the ethnic issue in SL are likely to be unreliable..

    Secondly I believe that the JIhadist tendencies of the Eastern Muslims are a by product of the ruthless LTTE regime.. which you sympathetically labwel as being a rebel group.. I doubt if the peace loving peoplein the East would agree with you... perhaps its time that you paid a visit to Amapara and Trincomalee.

    Secondly i do not subscribe to the homeland theory put forward by eelamists and secondly also by some sections of the racist sinhala Buddhist gallery if one is to quote historical facts it would be possible to prove the the Eastern province is a Sinhala/Muslim or Tamil land depending which historical references you choose to cite and how far back you are willing to explore history.

    the question of government colonization is a sensitive topic but i believe according to our constitution any citizen has the right to live anywhere he or she choose..

    Running your own bakery is also a rather fragile issue i wonder if any ethnic group anywhere in the world runs their own bakery according to your own words..

    Do the Whites in the US have their own bakery.. do the Asiatics in England have their own bakery, do the different ethnic groups that constitute Singapore have their own separate Chinese, Malay and Indian Bakeries.. It is a rather destructive view just because one belongs to a certain ethnic group that one should have one's own country, if that is the case do the Sinhalese have their own country... can a parliamentary act be passed without the support of the minority politicians.... if i were subscribe to your view then am i not as a Sinhalese also entitled to ask for my own separate bakery..

    Yes the two ethnic groups have had problems and the Tamils have been at the receiving end of those problems but the fact remains that the 70's and the 80's are behind us and today the LTTE poses a greater threat to Tamils in Sri Lanka than the GOSL.. perhaps Unbound Urchin and the rest of the Tamil Diapora living in the cool climes of Canada and UK are oblivious to the plight of innocent tamil civilians who are conscripted, killed and maimed by the LTTE...

  15. Hi guys.
    have been reading some of the posts. thank you for the nice things you have said about my poetry. (I didnt even know that Sarasavi had copies of my book NPY!!) I agree with realskullzero, I never did simplify the war down to two distinct sides of "us and them" but tried to portray the undescribable tragedy of it at a personal level. In war there are no winners, right? only victims. I have never lived in the north or east, so i have only experienced the deaths of friends and loved ones from all four communities in the south. And a guy who went for A/L french tuition with me was a navy officer who lost his life in the north. I empathise with anyone who has lost a loved one to this war, whatever the ethnic community they belong to. And thats what I wrote about. I guess.

  16. wow..DRG..u changed your own post???man pathetic....but i'm glad that u changed your opinion and rewrote what u said, nice to see our lengthy debate at least had an impact on someone(especially on a bugger like u!)

    p.s unbound Urchin,

    well..i rather had a lengthy reply planned for u...but it seems like the momentum of this thread is slowly pointing towards the end..(since Lady Oracle has also spoken) i ll try to keep it short. I was quite appalled and amused by your amazing theory on "Government's Systematic Genocide(or whatever u call it) theory".
    //You may ask, killing 5 persons? is it what you call an ethnic cleansing???? Yes it is!! this event causes fear among the parents who have young sons..//

    Well the part which amused me most was you were quite quick to note those "few incidents" as planned atrocities by GOSL, but you were quite ignorant of the fact that LTTE is the worst nightmare that "parents who have young sons" have come to live with. Why didn't you mention that the LTTE is eating up its own generation?( an ethnic massacre of its own young generation)

    Of course some wealthy Tamil parents may be able to send their kids abroad or bribe officials,but i doubt that the poverty stricken innocent civilians in uncleared areas have any option but to watch their young children dragged forcibly into LTTE's war machine.

    "Minority shrinks into even smaller minority…
    Government dedicatedly encourages this process…"

    Well if that statement is true i think most of the credit should go not to the government but to the LTTE, who have only dragged Tamil people backwards since the start of this awful war..