The Heart of It
This is a bursting heart of a collection, the first part speaking about personal heartbreak and the sorrow it brings. The motif of house as self is drawn upon when the narrator’s lover leaves her in a ‘house with hollow rooms’. This is a place of danger. ‘The wind is up. The boats are not in.’
The collection is rhythmic, in tune with nature and colour, blues and their connotations shading the poems within. Couplets are used frequently and are an appropriate choice for an uncoupling. The implied finality of a platitude most of us have heard is beautifully put in the lines ‘double negatives – It’s not that I don’t – were/rusted bolts closing windows against the storm. The female narrator attempts to heal by turning to the moon, ‘to the wind’s pull’, by making bowls reminding us that, amongst many other things, Seni is a ceramicist.
The second sequence consists of narrative poems in different voices – a mother whose ‘thin-skinned boy’ has returned from war broken, a person who commits suicide in the Seine, a girl who has pit- bull-like tendencies, an obese hedgehog that is put on a starvation diet. War raises its bloody head frequently and poems such as ‘This is What I Heard’, comparing the activities of the Israeli Army to those of bees ravaging a flower bed, are stunning and heart-breaking.
Top Ten Poetry Collections to Read or Re-read in 2015, written by Becky Cherriman for beckycherriman.com on Thursday, December 24, 2015
“Seni Seneviratne’s poetry reflects a fascination with the nuances of literary language. ‘Sitting for the Mistress’ employs an actual painting, the Portrait of Louise Keroualle, Duchess ofPortsmouth, French Mistress of Charles II, posing with her black child servant, Pierre Mignard,1682, currently hanging in the National Portrait gallery, as a starting-point for an exploration of margins and centre. Seneviratne brilliantly re-imagines the painting from the point of view of the marginalised black child servant. Using the imagery of a blackbird seeking liberation, the poem powerfully illustrates the revisionary capacity of poetry, as it challenges received white Anglocentric master narratives.”
Dr. Charlotte Beyer, Iota Magazine Issue 90