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blackbirds don't mate with starlings | Janaka Malwatta | Avid Reader

Thursday, 3 November 2022




Avid Reader Bookshop West End

Shastra Deo is in-conversation with Janaka Malwatta discussing his poetry anthology blackbirds don't mate with starlings.

This is a work of activism, fury and hope. Its urgent and purposeful poems contribute to the dismantling of racism, raging against its machinery. It combines performance poetry with poetries of witness and memory, recounting personal experiences of racism as well as historic injustices.

The coherence of this collection comes from the incandescent rage that burns from the first poem to the last. Yet there is a measure of compassion here, a compassion that is able to register contradiction and complexity without passing judgement. Ultimately this superb collection directs its imagining towards a just future for the next generation.

Janaka Malwatta was born in Kandy, the hill capital of Sri Lanka, grew up in London, and moved to Brisbane in 2010. He writes poems about his experiences as an immigrant in two continents. He also writes narrative poetry, often exploring Sri Lankan stories. He has performed poetry in Brisbane, including at the Queensland Poetry Festival, and has been published in Cordite Poetry Review, Rabbit Poetry and Peril magazine. He was the Sri Lankan voice on the blog The Cordon. He is one half of the poetry and tabla collective Dubla. blackbirds don’t mate with starlings is his first full-length collection of poetry.

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