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The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here


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About the Author

Vidyan Ravinthiran teaches at the University of Birmingham, and is an editor at Prac Crit, the online magazine of poetry and poetics, as well as the author of Elizabeth Bishop's Prosaic (Bucknell, 2015), winner of both the University English Prize and the Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism. His first book of poems, Grun-tu-molani (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize and the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize. His second collection, The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here (Bloodaxe Books, 2019), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, is shortlisted for the 2019 Forward Prize for Best Collection; poems towards it won a Northern Writers Award. He also writes literary journalism, most recently for Poetry (verse) and The Telegraph (fiction), and is represented as an author of fiction by the Wylie Agency.


Also on the shortlist [for the Forward Prize for Best Collection] is another collection that approaches divisive politics with humanity and warmth: Vidyan Ravinthiran's The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here. Formally assured but far from formulaic, this book of sonnets for the poet's wife is testament, at its best, to the ways in which poetry can reach from the particular to the universal. Moving and inviting in their conversational ease, Ravinthiran's sonnets stretch from the grounding details of life for a mixed-race couple in England today... to thoughtfully touch on themes of identity, class, work and community. -- Ben Wilkinson * The Guardian *
The poet's domestic introspection is no less than a conduit for contemplation of the troubles which define many lives. And in this fine collection, they include racism (Ravinthiran is British by birth and Sinhalese by family origin, his wife is white British), cultural dislocation, mental illness, politics and identity... Vidyan Ravinthiran's collection is both bracing and complex, and it is difficult to give a comprehensive review of such a diversionary, inclusive body of work without venturing into essay territory. -- Steve Whitaker * The Yorkshire Times [on The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here] *
As a very rare kind of British poet indeed - one from a Sri Lankan background readers might expect Vidyan Ravinthiran to have a lot of important things to say. He does, but, like Oscar Wilde, whom this witty and ambitious debut quotes twice, Grun-tu-molani also delights in wrong-footing expectations of earnestness. -- Jeremy Noel-Tod * Sunday Times *
'Grun-tu-molani' is borrowed from Bellow's phrase meaning 'man wants to live' and Ravinthiran's verse seems driven by a comparably urgent impulse, to perfect his craft. From translations of ancient Tamil texts to contemporary riffs on recession and technology, he combines formal range with wit as well as moral, sensual and emotional complexity. -- Maria Crawford * Financial Times, Summer books 2014 *
Grun-tu-Molani brings a light touch and a sometimes damning elegance to subjects including MTV, a chair addressing Jackie Chan, the Tamil Tigers, militarism and the purpose of money - recalling the early Michael Hofmann as he does so, which is a good sign. -- Sean O'Brien * Guardian *

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