Like I have said before, I am not a poetry person, but since I picked up her first book Nothing Prepares You, I have been a huge fan of Vivimarie VanderPoorten and was looking forward to her second book of poetry. Stitch your eyelids shut, the title taken from Pablo Neruda's poem Ode to Sadness gives us many poems that deal with disturbing themes, sadness, lost loves, conflict and emotions among other themes.
Perhaps there may be those readers who will feel inundated by this weight of sorrow. But Vivimarie continues to be one of Sri Lanka's foremost contemporary poets, detailing every day life with such accuracy that one is surprised to read of an ordinary emotion told in an extraordinary way.
There are many poems that deal with love, most of them lost. A particularly poignant love poem is Aftertaste:
wet on my lips
we are divided by
the blue wide sheets
of the crumpled ocean
and I have stopped waiting
on this side
of the beach's over bright bedroom
yet still I want
to write for you
even though I have kissed another man since
The poems I like best in this collection have to do with family. Grandmother Died, My Sister's fish, Letter to my sister, December 1995. Some poems are different and interesting like Quiz and Random Questions, though I have the feeling Random Questions is a nod of appreciation to Malinda Seniviratne's Gratiaen shortlisted manuscript of poems that had a whole host of question poems.
Having won the Gratiaen for her first book of poems leads me to the question is this book as good if not better than her first. Unfortunately, the answer for me is a no (and this is an entirely subjective opinion). Her first book was sassy and sharp. I found some of the poems in this collection tedious, others were laboured but let me hasten to add that most of the poems were good - in fact they were more than good, and that is what makes this collection worth having.