27 March 2016

Looking for the best school-going poet...

Well known lyricist and presenter Bandula Nanayakkarawasam during the re-launch of his popular radio show ‘Rae Ira Pana’ which he turned into a tribute for Mahagama Sekera issued a pithy, hopeful and warm suggestion:

“Let all that is best in all of us come together and create another Mahagama Sekera who would then unravel who we are and the world we live in and thereby show us the pathways we ought to choose so we can reach a better, more tender, more knowing world.”

It was in effect a call for an embrace, a celebration of community and a conviction that there would be another Mahagama Sekera.  Recently, someone speaking on the advances of science and technology, made the following observation: ‘The person who will first live to the age of 200 has already been born.’  The same could be said of the ‘Next Sekera’.  Only, we have not yet identified the individual and indeed the fact may be acknowledged long after the particular poet is dead. 

Nevertheless, a nurturing following Bandula’s honest and fervent call, cannot do any damage.  This is why I welcome and salute the initiative of the good people who are organizing the second edition of the Annasi & Kadalagotu Literary Festival, for arranging a special session for emerging young poets writing in English.

A total of Rs 50,000 has been set aside for the best creative efforts at poetry by school children.  Of course it is only for English poetry this year but the organizers plan to expand it to include Sinhala and Tamil poetry in future editions of ‘A&K’.  Apparently it had been a late-in-the-day brainwave.  Naturally, there’s not enough time to process and do justice to the kind of volume one could expect from Sinhala and Tamil medium students.  I am fine with ‘something is better than nothing’. 

The top ten poems will be read by their respective authors during a special session at this year’s ‘A&K’ with the three entries adjudged to be the best receiving prizes. 

The cash prizes are incentives of course but the allure I believe would be the possible opportunity to showcase one’s creative efforts before a wonderful audience of writers, critics and lovers of literature, going purely on the fantastic atmosphere we saw at last year’s ‘A&K’. 

It’s a simple enough brief.  They would be asked to write on one of three themes:  peace, being a Sri Lankan, and kindness.  Entries will close on the 10th of April.  Any student in any school anywhere in Sri Lanka can submit tonadee1989@gmail.com

It would not only be an opportunity for the young writers in our country but would provide a chance for older people to get to know how the youth of today see the world around them and also how they view themselves.  That has to be exciting, especially for those who want literature in all its genres and in all languages to flourish. 

When the 10 shortlisted students read their poetry on the 14th of May, we will not know which of them has the best chance of becoming a Sekera.  Indeed, it is quite possible that one or more of those who don’t make it to the Top 10 might surpass those who do.  However, if the least we can do by way of giving some tangibility to Bandula’s timely and laudable suggestion is to encourage, then A&K deserves a lot of praise. 

Over the years we've had all kinds of exercises encouraging promising young poets.  The arts pages of newspapers for example, give a lot of space to write-in poetry.  The Sinhala newspapers, in particular, take such projects very seriously, with the poetry pages often handled by reputed literary personalities.  The emergence of blogs and social media has seen the emergence of what's called the 'Cyber Kaviya'.  Indeed some of the most talented published poets in recent times have cut their poetic teeth in this media. 

A prize, complements and enhances, of course and this is why this modest effort from the A&K organizers should be seen as a welcome move which will add that much more youth-colour of you will to the event.  

Let us hope the call prompts lots of submissions.  



වැසි දැරිය - The Rain Girl said...

Thanks for informing. I personally believe that it is necessary to create another poet or a poetess strong enough to do the change Sekara did.. yet there should be something more than just imitating Sekara's poetry..

I am Warsha Ranasinghe. Hope you remember me.