The Go-Away Bird
In her fourth collection, Seni Seneviratne will extend her reputation as a fine poet whose incisive social and political concerns are matched by her meticulous care with the shape of each poem and the architecture of her collections, where individual poems are enriched by their place in the whole and their dialogue with each other.
Seni Seneviratne
ISBN number
Travel & Description
Country setting
United Kingdom
South Africa
Publication date
05 Oct 2023

In her fourth collection, Seni Seneviratne extends her reputation as a fine poet whose incisive social, ecological and political concerns are matched by her meticulous care with the shape of each poem and the architecture of the whole, where individual poems dialogue with each other. In this collection, the connecting thread is the bird, both in its observed physical otherness and as an image that carries cultural and historical resonances. The first section of the collection yokes Seneviratne’s deep love of the ways of birds in their natural environment – their distinctness from human concerns, but also the way, both as child and adult, she is drawn towards them.  The second section revisits the myth of Philomela from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and puts this tongueless woman/nightingale in dialogue with the gender fluidity of Tiresias to explore different forms of silencing in history and the present. The third section, “Vagabonda”, takes the migratory qualities of birds into her own experiences as a traveller who has discovered more about herself and the world in other spaces. The imagery of the caged bird runs through a sequence of poems in the fourth section, which meditate on the silenced voices of enslaved Black children, trapped as picturesque, consumerist trophies in those 18th century paintings to be found in English stately homes, which celebrate their occupants’ gaining of new wealth through the slave trade and slave-grown sugar. The final section, “After-words”, acknowledges the interruption that Covid-19 brought to all our lives, and in its return to family, is a summing up and a looking forward. As a poet who balances careful observation with imaginative flight, Seni Seneviratne addresses both heart and mind.

Seni Seneviratne smiling, wearing a grey striped top and glasses

Seni Seneviratne

Seni Seneviratne, born and raised in Leeds, is of English and Sri Lankan heritage, and the author of four highly-acclaimed collections of poems. Her poem 'A Wider View' is included on the AQA GCSE poetry syllabus, and her collection, Unknown Soldier (2019), was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and National Poetry Day Choice. She is a fellow of the Complete Works programme and has collaborated with film-makers, visual artists, musicians and digital artists. She is currently one of ten commissioned writers on the Colonial Countryside Project: National Trust Houses Reinterpreted. She lives in Derbyshire.

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