Issue 92 |
Winter 2003-04

On Pireeni Sundaralingam

Pireeni Sundaralingan depicts a straightforward urgency in everything she writes. She is from Sri Lanka, and her poetry captures elements of that country's ethnic violence and cultural tensions. However, a credit to her and her poetry, she strives for a language that embraces a sober beauty through precision. Maybe the directness in her voice has much to do with her science background: Pireeni works on a poem till there's a crossing of borders, physically and psychologically. the speakers are troubled, a long ways from cultural homes and loved ones, but they always have an unflinching ability to forgive and celebrate human possibility. They move on and endure, but they never forget personal histories. Pireeni's best poems possess a strength of character. There's great promise in this young poet. I believe her poetry.

—Yusef Komunyakaa, author of numerous books of poetry, including Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize. He teaches at Princeton University.