Links and reviews

Vidyan's poetry can be read online at The Guardian, The Nation, The London Review of Books, Poetry London and Poetry magazine (there are also links here to several essays); here are some video readings for the BBC and the T.S Eliot Prizes (click for Youtube results). Here's Prac Crit, the online magazine of poetry and poetics he edited with Sarah Howe and Dai George.

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Elizabeth Bishop’s Prosaic was awarded both the University English First Book Prize, 2016, and the Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism, 2016.

            From the Chair’s Report for the UE Prize: “the judges…were unanimous in their decision to award the prize to Vidyan Ravinthiran for Elizabeth Bishop’s Prosaic… a dazzling study of the formal life of the prose of one of the greatest writers of the modern period — her essays, prose poems, and letters. The book establishes a way of analysing the rhythms of prose in a way which will be exemplary for other scholars of the subject, exploring the minutiae of Bishop’s practice with memorably impressive insight and tact. This is a book which effectively discovers a new subject for critical and scholarly enquiry and describes its flexible and responsive genius with remarkable success.”

            And the Warren-Brooks judges: “a new perspective on the works of the 20th century American writer Elizabeth Bishop. The selection committee was particularly impressed by the originality, strong scholarship, readability and wide-ranging appeal of Ravinthiran’s work.”

           The Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin: “a compelling and fundamental breakthrough in Elizabeth Bishop scholarship as well as in the study of literary genre […]  beautifully written, informed not just by Bishop critics but also by important (and neglected) poetry critics of at least the last 100 years […] The book will be a building block for further studies of Bishop’s prose rhythms, and her innovative poetics in the ongoing evolution of poetry. Scholars and poets will delight on hundreds of pithy observations, fresh readings and analyses made here.

          […] We have no doubt that this is a book that will both change Bishop scholarship at the same time as refining our understanding of twentieth-century poetic history.”

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From reviews ofThe Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here (Bloodaxe, 2019):

'To commit an entire collection to the sonnet is a brave act. It shows not just trust in one's abilities but also a humility before the form that any kind of success demands. Few have achieved this in many years but The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here offers an object lesson in finding the scope of the modern sonnet, and using it to record the beauty, sadness, and complexity of the everyday.' - John Burnside, Chair of Judges, T S Eliot Prize 2019

'To me the sonnet should be listed as a piece of UNESCO intangible heritage because the sonnet has lasted for so long in so many different ways...Vidyan Ravinthrian has written an amazing book entirely of sonnets...he's making the sonnet shine. This really is a fantastic, fantastic collection.' - Ian McMillan, introducing Vidyan Ravinthiran at the T S Eliot Prize Readings, 12 January 2020

'My personal favourite...is Vidyan Ravinthiran's The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here, a wonderful sonnet sequence which, as its title implies, is a little bit about everything, including wrens and whimbrels.' - Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times [reviewing the ten collections shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize 2019]

'Every poem in Ravinthiran's second collection is a sonnet addressed to his wife, but here is no lack of variety in topic or tone. From interracial love to Sri Lanka's civil war, mental health to Brexit, the range itself speaks of the ideal spouse: the person with whom we can talk about absolutely anything.' - Maria Crawford, Financial Times (Books of the Year 2019: Poetry)

'Formally assured but far from formulaic, this book of sonnets for the poet's wife is testament, at its best, to the ways in which poetry can reach from the particular to the universal. Moving and inviting in their conversational ease, Ravinthiran's sonnets stretch from the grounding details of life for a mixed-race couple in England today... to thoughtfully touch on themes of identity, class, work and community.' - Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian

'...Ravinthiran's second collection is a sequence of loose, warm love sonnets to his wife The outside world leaks through in nods to Brexit and his Sri Lankan family, Larkin and Borges, Super Mario and The X-Files.' --Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph

This is a collection both about the particulars of shared domestic life, and one charged with greater, uninvited, forces. It is about the persistence of that love, and how it might be brought to bear on the wider world; how the intercultural understanding which exists in a couple, if scaled up, has the power to make the world anew, to bring into being new and wondrous modes of coexistence. --Stephanie Sy-Quia, Poetry School 

The poet's domestic introspection is no less than a conduit for contemplation of the troubles which define many lives. And in this fine collection, they include racism...cultural dislocation, mental illness, politics and identity...Vidyan Ravinthiran's collection is both bracing and complex, and it is difficult to give a comprehensive review of such a diversionary, inclusive body of work without venturing into essay territory. --Steve Whitaker, The Yorkshire Times