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  • Writer's pictureBelle Kenyon

Aryamati Prize Winner Spotlight: Sundra Lawrence

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

It is my pleasure to introduce to you poet Sundra Lawrence, who won our 2021 Aryamati Poetry Prize 2021. As part of the prize, she will have her pamphlet published with us in May 2022: 'Flame'.

Sundra Lawrence was born and resides in north London. She is of Sri Lankan Tamil heritage. Her work often interweaves themes of migration, and conflict and does so with empathy and a deftness of touch. She has performed her work across the UK and internationally. Her poetry and short stories have featured on national television, radio, podcasts, and art exhibitions. They are published in anthologies including the Los Angeles Review. Sundra is the founder and director of Write Lines. She teaches creative writing, and is a creative consultant for the London Literature Lounge. She is a Malika’s Poetry Kitchen Alumni.

Sample Poem:

Somewhere in Normandy

The dads are dancing. Wrists, hips

polish air, metronome feet wake dirt,

lost in baila. It’s summer. Us kids

holding down picnic blankets

pick at sambal so hot it breaks plastic.

Away from uncle's high-rise outside Paris,

the mums talk Tamil, I listen to its song,

chew my straw, suck the memory of orange.

Mozambique slaves sent by the Portuguese

to fight Lankan kings, stay in the ear of

Singhalese, Tamil, Burghar, Muslim, Kaffir

music for all celebrations. They said,

before the war, fish of Batticaloa sang.

Cut the island, and it will bleed music.

Why 'Flame' was our clear chapbook winner:

The content of Lawrence's work proved to be detailed and moving. These poems exploring civil war in Sri Lanka are incredibly brave and necessary, shining a spotlight on the resilience of the locals - as well as the lingering, multigenerational effects that the brutality of war leaves on people long after they have left their home. We can't wait to publish this pamphlet next year, which spans across 30 years of family history.

Would you be interested in reviewing 'Flame' for a literary journal publication or book blog? Get in touch!

You can find out more about the Aryamati Prize here and make sure you keep an eye out for the 2022 prize opening in Summer!

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