Once a month we’re swapping articles and interviews with western Canada’s oldest literary magazine, PRISM international, to share our writers with a wider audience.

PRISM 53.1 features Michael Lockett’s poem ‘Vavuniya via Anuradhapura’, in which the speaker travels by bus through Sri Lanka, taking in the sights, sounds and history of the country. Michael Lockett travelled to Sri Lanka in 2008, and in addition to writing poems, took some stunning photographs. Today we share a selection of those photos with you, along with commentary from Michael on both the photos and the poem.

While travelling through Sri Lanka I used Michael Ondaatje’s Handwriting as a kind of travel guide. Without that source I mightn’t’ve encountered some of the places I found most appealing, Mihintale for instance.


‘Bike’ – Vavuniya, Northern Province, Sri Lanka – © Michael Lockett

Attempting a reconciliation of images gleaned from poetry with the island itself was a challenging experience — there was much that cohered and clashed and confused.


‘Goat’ – Galle, Southern Province, Sri Lanka – © Michael Lockett

And regardless of the perspective I’d assume, reader or traveller, writer or photographer, there was, of course, much that was inaccessible.


‘Rain’ – Nuwara Eliya, Central Province, Sri Lanka – © Michael Lockett

I tried to replicate that tension between curiosity and inaccessibility through photography by playing with framing and focus, and within the poem, primarily by positioning the speaker as one eager to observe yet hesitant to infer.


‘Window’ – Vavuniya, Northern Province, Sri Lanka – © Michael Lockett


– Michael Lockett

Read the original post at PRISM here.