Palimpsest - A collection of finely crafted poetry | Sunday Observer

Palimpsest - A collection of finely crafted poetry

21 May, 2023

“I have been writing poetry since the age of twelve,” says Dr. Sureshika Piyasena, author of ‘Palimpsest’, “It has always been a means of expressing myself as well as a therapeutic exercise.”

Dr Sureshika Piyasena’s words resonate with so many other writers and authors. Writing is indeed therapeutic and has the power to reform the world around us and change perceptions on any given subject. With the nuance of poetry, this is especially the case.

Take, for example, Sureshika’s piece titled ‘Pandora’:

“It was I who opened the box, / But I did not create it. / Yes, blame me, blame Eve, / Blame us women for the evil./ But who created it?/ If you looked in the box / You would have seen / Stalking, domestic violence, rape,/ No freedom to work, or wear what we want, / Sex slaves, child molestation, sexual harassment, bride burning, / Dowry deaths, honour killings, femicide / Forced marriage, denied education, /Acid attacks, forced pregnancy, / Who put these in the box?”

‘Palimpsest’ is ready to open your eyes to different perspectives; share thoughts, emotions and perceptions that intrigue the reader at the very least.

“I have always loved to read,” says Sureshika, “My mother used to say that on the car ride home from the library, I would have already finished reading my books before we reached home.”

Real stories

This is not Sureshika’s first foray as a published author. Her debut collection of poems titled ‘Little Lost Loves’ was published in May 2021 on the theme of miscarriages and infant loss. “I asked for real stories and wrote poems for these women who shared their stories with me. I wanted to talk about these issues which are taboo.”

Her poems have been published in ‘Skeletons: An Anthology of Poetry’ (USA), ‘The Black Rose of Winter’ (UK), ‘Bridge of Fates’ (UK), ‘Greek Fire’ (UK), ‘Temptation’ (UK), ‘Shout it Out’ (UK), ‘Jeans: A Memorial’ (Sri Lanka), ‘Misfit Quill, Primrose Road Poetry’ (Sri Lanka) and, ‘This House We Live In’ (USA).

Sureshika grew up in Colombo and attended Bishop’s College where she learnt to love literature. “Literature was my first love. I chose literature for O’Ls and A/Ls. I went on to do a BA at Miranda House, University of Delhi, and then an M.A, MPhil and PhD in English at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi,” she says.

Currently, Sureshika teaches English at Stafford International School. “I love my literature class,” says Sureshika, “When I teach poetry, my brain goes into overdrive with a million interpretations coming into my mind. You could say I get high on literature.”

‘My cup of tea’

“Poetry is completely my cup of tea. I am anyway a person of few words. I call a spade a spade and have got into trouble for it too. Poetry allows me to speak my truth and I like to give female characters a voice in my poetry. I also do this so that the reader can see things from a different perspective. Very often the same patriarchal narratives are fed to us and I try to challenge this in my poetry.”

Sureshika’s second collection of poems is called “Palimpsest”, which means ‘reused or altered manuscript’, as many poems are based on characters who have been written about before. “Many poems have literary allusions to other texts and are on themes which are commonly written about,like love and loss, but from a different perspective. I like to delve into the dark side of the human psyche,” explains Sureshika. “For me, words can do wonders.”

Let me leave you with another excerpt from Sureshika’s latest collection of poetry, titled ‘Ode to Poetry’:

“When words dance together / And tango with my heartbeat / In the iambs of laughter / And grief / Poetry, you therapist! / Bringer of perspectives / Soaked from the poet / And delivered to the reader / And changes lives forever.”