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Sri Lanka
Pireeni Sundaralingam, born in Sri Lanka and raised both there and in the UK, Sundaralingam currently lives in San Francisco, CA. Her poems have appeared in literary and political journals such as Ploughshares, World Literature Today, The Progressive, (USA), Karavan (Sweden), Cyphers (Eire) and The Guardian newspaper (UK), as well as university texts such as Three Genres (Prentice-Hall, 2009), and anthologies such as Masala (Macmillan, 2005), Language for a New Century: Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (Norton, 2008), and Amnesty’s 100 Poems for Human Rights (New Internationalist, 2009). Her poetry has been translated into several languages, including Spanish, Swedish, Italian, Vietnamese and Gaelic, and has been featured at both the United Nations headquarters, and the International Museum of Women. A former PEN USA Rosenthal Fellow, Sundaralingam is co-editor of Indivisible, the first anthology of South Asian American poetry (University of Arkansas Press, 2010).

Aside from her written work, Sundaralingam also regularly performs alongside violinist and composer, Colm O’Riain, as part of the touring poetry-music group Word & Violin, and together they have performed at festivals on three continents. Their joint recent poetry-music album “Bridge Across The Blue” brings together poets and musicians to tell the forgotten immigration stories of America. Described as “A triumph of transformative collaboration and a blue-print for cultural sanity” by Tea Party magazine, and “The splendor of many tongues” by SF Chronicle, the album was awarded the Potrero Nuevo Prize for Social Justice in the Arts.

Pireeni was educated at Oxford University, and has held cognitive science research posts at MIT and UCLA. Dedicated to examining the confluence of art and science, in the past year alone, she has given lectures on “Poetry and The Brain” at MOMA (New York), the Exploratorium (SF), and the Life in Space symposium at Studio Olafur Eliasson (Berlin).

White Blindness
English version

White Blindness

My country is a white blindness,
an absence of newsprint,
a vacuum of words,
the falling snow of radio static.

But where is there left
for me to pour out my secrets?

I will dig graves deep in the earth for them.
I will tear holes in the white silence of the page
and bury the words of witness
deep in the tomb of the text.

Let them bear fruit there,
let the sprouting grasses shout out their secrets,
let the blade-cut reeds blare out their names.

Pireeni Sundaralingam
Published in Cyphers (Ireland), 2002