Feb 12 2024.views 79
The festival was held in the salubrious citadel city of Kandy and has now moved to the heady metropolis of Colombo. Packed with many leading authors from Sri Lanka and around the globe, we chat with authors about their Literary lives and influences.
Q How did your journey as a writer/poet begin?
My journey began when I was about seven or eight, and became a member of the Evening Observer Children’s Page. The Page was a wonderful opportunity for very young writers to send in their contributions. That gave me the confidence to start writing.
Q Who were your literary influences?
My most significant influence, guide and mentor, was Anne Ranasinghe, the Jewish poet who lived in Sri Lanka for over 60 years.
Q How do you know when an idea you’ve come up with for a poem is good?
Ideas are always there; the challenge is to transform them into poems and then make the poems “work.” Whether they will work can be found out only when you start writing. Until then you don’t know.
Q How profitable is it to be a writer in Sri Lanka?
There is no profit in being a writer in Sri Lanka, certainly not in writing poetry.
Q Are you a disciplined writer and do you sit down daily to write?
Yes, I can be disciplined if I need to be. When I work on a book, I would set a regular time daily for writing.
Q What tips would you give to aspiring poets?
Read, write, read, write, read write and learn (attend workshops and use the internet as a resource).
Most importantly, work with a professional editor or writing mentor.
Q Would you be willing to share more specifics on how you’ve “kept at it” or uncovered ways to keep the language and the writing flowing for you?
The most important way has been reading other writers, meeting them, and being inspired by them. This is one of the reasons why aspiring writers need exposure to writers and their worlds through festivals such as the CLF.
Q What are you looking forward to most at the Ceylon Literary and Art Festival?
The Ceylon Literary Festival has been a breath of fresh air in the festival scene as its whole ethos is inclusivity. The opportunity it is giving students to attend for free and meet local and international writers is fantastic.
This is a first for Sri Lanka and needs to be supported and celebrated. I think the curator, Ashok Ferry, has achieved the near impossible in the local literati scene. I am looking forward to engaging with students and young writers.