Seni Seneviratne is a writer, poet, performer, singer and creative artist born and raised in Leeds, Yorkshire and of English and Sri Lankan heritage. Her work as a poet and live artist has been praised particularly for the unique talent of engaging an audience through poetry and song.
Her poetry is published internationally. She has given readings, performances and workshops in UK, US, Canada, South Africa, Egypt and Kuwait.
She works as a freelance writer, mentor, trainer and creative consultant. She has collaborated with film-makers, visual artists, musicians and digital artists and is one of ten commissioned writers on the Colonial Countryside Project with the University of Leicester and Peepal Tree Press.
She is a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry and is currently co-editing a Bloodaxe anthology of post-independence Tamil, Sinhala and English poetry. Her fourth collection, The Go-Away Bird will be published by Peepal Tree Press in Autumn 2023.
Her latest collection, ‘Unknown Soldier’ was published by Peepal Tree Press in September 2019, and is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and a National Poetry Day Choice and was Highly Commended in the Forward Prizes 2020
May 1941. Two signalmen meet for the first time in an army camp in the North African desert. The only surviving record of the friendship is an album of black and white photographs. The subject of the photographs is the first soldier, a twenty-four year old Ceylonese telephone and telegraph fitter who in 1940 enlisted in the Royal Signals. The second soldier is the photographer. This is the starting point for Seni Seneviratne’s third collection. Through the photographs she finds the voices of the two men and thus begins her journey to meet her father, the first soldier, the unknown soldier.
The Weight of the World
Oh, how they blew like vast sails in the breeze,
my mother’s wet sheets, pegged hard to the rope
of her washing line. There was always hope
of dry weather and no need for a please
or thanks between us as we hauled them down.
Whether to make the fold from right to left
or left to right, to tame the restless heft?
My job to know. I won’t call it a dance
but there were steps to learn and cues to read,
the give and take of fabric passed like batons
in a relay race. She was my due north.
Her right hand set west, mine tracing the east,
we closed the distance, calmed the wayward weight
bringing order to the billowing world.
© Seni Seneviratne
Commended in the St. Cross College, Four Corners Poetry Competition.
Published in Unknown Soldier 2019
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