Friday, August 14, 2015

Birth Centenary of Poet Tambimuttu

Poetry London (1939–51)
Poetry London–New York (1956–60)
Poetry London/Apple Magazine, which had just two issues,

A Sri Lankan Tamil from an affluent English-speaking Roman Catholic family, M. J. Tambimuttu arrived in Britain at the age of 22. Having already published three volumes of poetry in Ceylon, he soon immersed himself in the literary world of London’s Soho and Fitzrovia. Within little more than a year of his arrival he had founded the magazine Poetry London (1939–51) with the writer and musician Anthony Dickins. While Dickins' involvement quickly diminished, Tambimuttu edited the first fourteen volumes of the magazine and a number of books, as well as writing his own poetry. 

In July 1943, with the backing of publishers Nicholson and Watson (on the recommendation of T. S. Eliot who was an admirer of his), he established Editions Poetry London, which published contemporary verse and prose, as well as art books, in hard cover. Tambimuttu was also a regular participant in the BBC radio series Talking to India during the Second World War. A man of charisma as well as a talented editor, he had an array of friends and acquaintances with whom he enjoyed the pubs and cafes of Fitzrovia.

Tambimuttu returned to Sri Lanka in 1949 then moved to New York in 1952 where he launched the magazine Poetry London–New York (1956–60) as well as continuing to publish short fiction and poetry of his own, and lecturing at the Poetry Center and New York University. In 1968 he returned to London where he founded a final magazine, Poetry London/Apple Magazine, which had just two issues, and a publishing company, the Lyrebird Press. He died of heart failure in London in 1983.

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