Nonsensical and creative | Sunday Observer

Nonsensical and creative

.......He entered through the gates into Folly land
And as he strolled in the land he saw, a rat chasing a dog
Billy was amazed and he made himself sat, and called out to
the dog
Saying ‘Oh dog! Oh dog! Oh dog!’
Why being chased by a rat when you could chase a cat?’
‘Oh my! Oh my! Oh my! You may be right
But this is Folly land where folly is the plan,
Said the dog with his fang........

That was a verse from the poem Billy Joy in Folly land written by the winner Gayan Perera in the Edward Lear Poetry Competition that was worked out on Friday, January 18 at the Owl and the Pussy Cat Hotel in Galle. It was indeed a pleasant and enjoyable exercise, yet it kept the audience at the edge of their seats wondering who will carry off the fruitful prizes. Kudos to the Chairperson Reita Gadkari and the Co-Chair Shane Thantirimudalige for their passion in poetry and their belief that Sri Lankan young writers have the talent to express nonsensical ideas in verse in the manner of Edward Lear.

Eighteen year old Gayan Perera the winner is a student of the Lyceum International School. He tells us his ambition is to be a doctor which we remarked is far removed from writing nonsensical poems.

He has a serious side to his character. His hobbies as he puts it, is reading books on Science and History and also adventure stories.

He confesses that he writes poems and short stories in his spare time and plays the guitar.

Quite in contrast is the second prize winner Khema Wijewardena. She is, as she calls herself, a sociable recluse and lives her life in the cool climes of Nuwara Eliya and she feels nothing lends itself so well to nonsense poetry as the daily, delightful nonsensicalities of life in Sri Lanka. Her poem to this competition was ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ and a few lines move thus:

The people on the bus go sway sway sway

Trying to keep their balance as it lurches on its way

From side to side they do get thrown

Buses are not for their smoothness known

The perverts on the bus go grind, grab, touch

But empowered ladies know this much

Jab them where you can with a safety pin

And that’ll be the end of their pervy grin....”

The subject of the third prize winner Sandesh Bartlett reflected a typical gossiping “C.A.C. - Colombo Aunty Club,” and the thoughts run thus:

In some chic and posh boutique, the Aunties gather there

“Have you heard? Have you seen? I heard she cut her hair!”

Snickering and whispering - they jot down all their notes

“Her husband went to Italy. You saw her lovely coat?”

Sandesh is, as he claims a passionate writer and often finds himself writing during his half-hour lunch break at work. He hopes to one day fulfill his lifelong dream of publishing a series of novels. The panel of judges for the selected five finalists, comprising Aftab Jafferjee, Anthea Peris Flambert, Dilhani Thantirimudalige and Gehan Talwatte must surely had a tough time to pick out the winner, considering the fact that each competitor idea wise was humourous and language wise the ideas were put across in simple, compact and not in over wrought style. What stood out in the poems was the wit, the clarity and vividness, which was skillfully handled by the competitors. The presentation of their entries showed that the competitors had paid a lot of attention to pronunciation and emotion.

Once again the organisers have to be a congratulated for opening out the doors to originality in thought, not in the usual staid manner but on a track that hitherto no one has deemed to encourage.

Call it modern verse and await the next showcase of The Edward Lear Poetry Competition and make sure you are present to applaud the competitors.