What she said... what he said

In the passing of Lakshmi Hölmstrom, Tamil poetry has lost one of its eloquent voices- she brought the words of many poets and writers to the hearing of a much wider audience that did not know the language or its nuances.

One of the poets she translated was Cheran Rudramoorthy, the important Sri Lankan Tamil poet of these times, of the conflict, of the displacement, of the war. Cheran's book of poems,  A Second Sunrise, was published by Navayana in 2012, with translations by Hölmstrom and Sascha Ebeling. Widely acclaimed for capturing the lyricism and irony that have been Cheran's hallmarks, the translations bring a difficult idiom to life in another language, a language much less accustomed to direct expressions of emotions, a language less familiar with the syntax of tropical wars. 

So what was it that he said? And what she said? A Second Sunrise is in our Poetry section, Rs 295, 160 pages, ISBN: 9788189059491

Hölmstrom's translations are masterly. One that has been very important in the context of current debates on identity is Bama Faustina's autobiographical Karukku.

In 1992 when a Dalit woman left the convent and wrote her autobiography, the Tamil publishing industry found her language unacceptable. So Bama Faustina published her milestone work Karukku privately in 1992 - a passionate and important mix of history, sociology, and the strength to remember.

Karukku broke barriers of tradition in more ways than one. The first autobiography by a Dalit woman writer and a classic of subaltern writing, it is a bold and poignant tale of life outside mainstream Indian thought and function. Revolving around the main theme of caste oppression within the Catholic Church, it portrays the tension between the self and the community, and presents Bama's life as a process of self-reflection and recovery from social and institutional betrayal.

The English translation by Lakshmi Holmström, first published in 2000 and recognized as a new alphabet of experience, pushed Dalit writing into high relief.

Rs. 150 in paperback, 110 pages, ISBN: 9780333931905