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Photostory: Black Caesar

July 8, 2011

Solomon Dutch is a pretty cool site that deals in photostories. What is a Photostory, I hear you ask. The guys have provided a definition of sorts to help us newbies out:

Photostoryn. [foh-toh-stohr-ee] A narrative or collection of ideas communicated through photography and the written word.

As someone who is fascinated by the intersection of the visual with the textual, this is right up my alley. I’ve been browsing Solomon Dutch’s archives quite regularly since I came across them a few weeks back and urge you to do so as well. Some outstanding examples that I’ve come across so far: River Walk, Ghazal As a Metaphor.

Feeling quite inspired by some of the work, I wondered if I could too do a photostory. I am a writer, yes, but my interest in film-making grows unabated by the day. It is after all the medium that made me fall in love with stories and storytelling. And being friends with some pretty cool Sri Lankan photographers (Tim, Natalie, Ruvin and Thiva for instance)  has inspired me to experiment with the digital camera.

It needs to be said though: I don’t see myself as a photographer at all. I see myself a writer foremost and a storyteller at that. With camera in hand, I can only enhance my abilities in the latter and perhaps provider for a richer reading experience.

So here it is: a photostory combining my poetry and photography.  The poem, Black Caesar, is one of my early efforts (circa 2005) at narrative poetry in the vein of Alfred Lord Tennyson. In fact, I think I was reading Tennyson (and enjoying a healthy dose of intoxication) when the idea for the poem dawned on me. There is no historical basis for this poem at all.

Black Caesar

Theena Kumaragurunathan, 2005

Copyright © 2011 Theena Kumaragurunathan

Beyond the riches of Persia,

Away from the great land of the spices,

A speck on a great ocean,

Known only to the most weather-beaten sailor,

‘Serendib’, said Marco Polo.

‘Caesar’, the sailors called him.

But his land wasn’t Rome.

Copyright © 2011 Theena Kumaragurunathan

Here he ruled with an iron fist,

Benevolent yet terrifying,

Loved and reviled,

A study of contradiction,

‘A Caesar indeed!’, they said

Yet even Rome fell,

And his land wasn’t Rome.

Copyright © 2011 Theena Kumaragurunathan

Jungles in the centre,

Golden beaches around,

The people spoke different tongues,

Yet one Emperor ruled them all,

A wonder indeed,

‘A black Caesar’, they said

And his ‘Rome’ would fall.

Copyright © 2011 Theena Kumaragurunathan

He heard of their plans,

And hastened his troops,

Swords drawn, they mounted their horses,

They heard of his plans,

And loaded their canons,

Smiles wide, they waited for Black Caesar.

Copyright © 2011 Theena Kumaragurunathan

The sun shone brighter it seemed,

Not a cloud in the sky

The Gods smile upon us, said he.

Then a thunderous boom,

Great balls of fire they threw,

Behind him, his men lay dead he knew.

Copyright © 2011 Theena Kumaragurunathan

Black Caesar stands alone,

His Rome has fallen. 

9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2011 9:27 am

    Excellent! I love the visual narration as well.

  2. July 8, 2011 3:41 pm

    Theena, thanks so much for your kind words about our website. So great that we have inspired you to write your own photostory! Please feel free to send in any further writing or imagery to and we will try and create a photostory featuring your work. All the best, SD

  3. July 10, 2011 7:31 pm

    The narrative line in the poem drew me in, but I must admit that the last two lines disappointed me. I guess I was expecting something more, final lines that astrounded. I think the reader needs to be left with stronger final lines. Be that as it may, I thought this was a nice pairing of the visual with the verbal.

  4. August 27, 2011 2:37 pm

    I enjoyed that. Olivia has a point in that the whole piece seemed to be building to something biggeer. But I also got the feeling that maybe there was a certain flatness to it that was intentional through out ?

    Btw, the writing you are doing – is it a book or a collection of short stories and poerms etc. Would love to get my hands on it when its done.

    Also, mind linking me back on your cricket section with and maybe check out (link back?), I also dabble in poetry. Thoughts would be welcome when you get a chance.

  5. August 27, 2011 2:38 pm

    Also linked you up on flyslip!

  6. August 27, 2011 2:49 pm


    Machan, many thanks for the link back. I will reply in kind with both, sir 🙂

    About the book: It is an anthology of sorts, of both short stories and poetry, that will be thematically tied in. I will have the book mailed to you once I am done.

  7. August 27, 2011 2:59 pm

    Damith, linked back to both 🙂

  8. August 27, 2011 3:04 pm

    Thanks dude. Appreciate the Bro Love 🙂


  1. Photo-poetry Exchange | Theena Kumaragurunathan

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