Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Galileo’s Priests

Priests of Galileo
Are not dead and gone
They are alive
And exist
Every nook and corner
And in all spheres of life

Priests of Galileo
Are not dead and gone

If they are not aware
That’s not exists
If they don’t want
That’s too won’t exists

Priests of Galileo
Are not dead and gone

They are the species
Stick them around
The throne of power houses
And define and dictate
Not only false
But truth too

Priests of Galileo
Are not dead and gone

October 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two books in English from Maddakkalappu

K.S. Sivakumaran

A man strongly rooted in his own Yaalpaanam culture works as a senior lecturer teaching Drama and Theatre Arts at the Eastern University in Vantharoo Moolai. He is virtually settled there and tries his best to acquire the culture of the people in the East. He is a publisher of a periodical called Third Eye in English. He brings out other publications as well. We learn that he is the coordinator Third Eye Local knowledge and Skills Activities Group and Third Eye English Forum. His name is Sivagnanam Jeyasankar.
A collection of his articles titled Drum of a Herald is one of his publications. In his Foreword (printed as Forward) the author writes:
"Drum of a Herald is a response to marginalization and denial. The collection of articles written in English from years 2000 to 2008 will reveal the above mentioned statement"
Priced at rs.50/- this booklet is available at 30, Old Rest House Road, Maddakkaappu. An Introduction to the book is given by one James Thompson of Centre for Applied Theatre Research, University of Manchester. In that Jeyasankar is praised as follows: I would argue (that Jeyasankar) is one of the most important voices in a new generation of theatre scholars, practitioners and activists emerging from the Sri Lankan Tamil community"
There are 13 articles in the book. Most of them are on folk theatre (Kooththu in Thamil). But I particularly appreciated his comments on DCRA Goonatilleke's and Ranjini Obeysekera's biases in disregarding Lankan Thamil contribution.
In another article titled "Research through Imperial Eyes", the writer says: "Colonial construct of the education system and neocolonial impositions and influences on educational reforms have led to the alienation of the people, especially the intellectual community, from their own environment"
On page 58, the writer gives a list of creative Lankan writers in English. And they happen to have some connection with the Thamil community in Lanka. Historians of Lankan English Literature seem to conveniently ignore most of them in their accounts. The names are:
"C.V. Velupillai, Tambimuttu, Alagu Subramaniam, S.J.K. Crowther, T.Ramanathan Raja Proctor, Heather Loyala, Saraswathi Rockwood, Guy Amirthanayagam, T. Somasundaram, V.Ariyanayagam, Shyam Selvadurai, Bamini Selvadurai, Valan, Indran Amirthanayagam, S.Pathmanathan, S.Thillainathan, Pon Ganeshan and several others."
IOn page 62, the writer gives the following information regarding his mentors:
"The emergence of the 'English Forum' with the support and guidance of Prof S. Canaganayagam, Prof Suresh Canagarajah, A.J. Canagaratna, S. Rajasingam and the involvement of T. Somasundaram gave the morale boost at the initiation and the development of the process of identifying and establishing a tradition for the writing in English by the Thamilians of Sri Lanka."
The Third Eye also published a slim book of 40 pages titled Just Being Me. It is by an adolescent named Tamil Selvi a.k.a Tina Angelin. She attempts to write poetry and her recurring theme invariably is melancholy and sadness and self pity even though there are few lines that suggest positive thinking. There are 31 compositions-most of them lack freshness in treatment or imagination. But there is a tinge of her personal felt experiences centering on hopelessness.
The painting in the cover by Kamala Vasuki is artistic. There in hardly any details about the young 'poet'. She could turn out to write better poetry as time goes by and when she read good poems from the repertoire of fine poetry in English.