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Kanchana Amilani | ( Pic by Ravindra Dharmathilaka)

Like most writers belonging to the younger generation she too has found blogging a fascinating tool

Gammiris Kurulla, Pepper-bird in direct translation is a regular visitor to Kanchana Amilani’s home garden. In Kanchana’s words the behavior of Gammiris Kurulla, also known as Polos Kottoruwa (Brown-headed Barbet) reminds her of a terrorist. It would come every day to her garden, to eat from the plate put out in the garden for birds and squirrels. “If there is no food on the plate, this bird would chirp nonstop till we keep food on the plate. Also, when the food is there he makes sure to chase all other birds and squirrels away before he eats,” Kanchana said while adding that it’s always amusing to observe Gammiris Kurulla’s behavior.

Notebook-of-an-achieverIt’s this Gammiris Kurulla’s behavior that helped Kanchana to contrive an amusing plot for one of the short stories included in her collection Gammiris Kurulla. Gammiris Kurulla is Kanchana’s debut short stories collection, which is to be launched along with her Poetry collection Premaye Karthu, ‘Seasons of Love’ on July 23 at the Mahaweli Center, Colombo.
Kanchana Amilani Karunamuni who is a writer, a journalist, a blogger and a cyber poet is an old girl from Kaluthara Tissa Central College. She obtained her higher education in New Delhi University, India. Returning to Sri Lanka, she found employment in an international school as a teacher. Although she enjoyed her profession as a teacher, her heart always told her that she should be engaged in work which gives her opportunities to write. Following her heart, in November 2003 she joined Dinamina (A Lake House publication) as a feature writer.

Kanchana Amilani (3)She said that she has been fond of reading and writing since she was very young. She identifies her habit of avid reading and the experiences she received during her 12 year journalistic career as the inspiration behind being a published author. “My experience as a feature writer fine tuned my language skills as well as writing,” she said. Even though she fulfilled her longing to become a writer by joining a newspaper, she said that something was missing in expressing herself. She said that she found the ideal way of retaining her own identity, when she introduced herself to the internet.

Her short story collection is written in an amusing language. Reading Gammiris Kurulla can be a magical experience to a person who loves animals, in that she uses animals who can talk and compete with humans in her stories. Each story in the book carries a doodle by Buddhima Harshani Perera. Her doodles add extra color to the book just as the unique book cover designed by Dinidu Siriwardana. Commenting on the cover and the doodles, Kanchana said that it’s always good to try new things in publishing a book, so as to make it more attractive to the reader. “However, the quality of a book depends on its content. If the content lacks quality, a book won’t sell,” she said.

Kanchana Amilani (6) Kanchana has successfully used her characters to criticize the current society. “I don’t know what genre my stories belong to, not that I want to belong to one particular kind,” she reflected. “What I wanted was to tell a story which would amuse people. I would be happier if the stories are interpreted in different ways investigating its hidden meanings,” she explained.

Kanchana pointed out that Sri Lanka lacks skillful people to edit books. “It could be because I am editing other writers’ work as a part of my job, I found it extremely difficult to find a good editor before sending the book to print,” she expressed her concerns. She pointed out that this is a common problem faced by Sri Lankan writers. In her opinion, books should be carefully edited by a person who has thorough language and grammar knowledge.

Kanchana Amilani (2)Kanchana’s creative writing in cyber space is quite popular among the cyber audience. Like many of the writers belonging to the younger generation she too has found blogging a fascinating tool of expressing herself literally. “Prompt feedback motivated me to write more and more. The more I received positive feedback, more I wanted to write,” she iterated.

Most of her creative writing can be found in her blog www.thinkland.net (Hithanalanthaya). When Sayura Publishers accepted her short story collection to be published, they also requested that she publish a poetry collection. Therefore, she carefully selected fifty poems out of her huge collection of poems to be published.
Premaye Karthu is a poetry collection which touches the theme of ‘love’. Her perception of love is unique and beyond the common notions of love.

තහනම් ගහ
ආදම්
එන්න පොරවත් රැුගෙන
අපි තහනම් ගහ කපා
ලෑලි කර විකුණමු මුදලාලිට

කෝ දෙන්න මට
තව එක ඉළ ඇටයක්
මවාගන්නට නැන්දම්මෙකු
ඉතා හොඳ
කීකරු
මටම ආදරේ

ආදම්
එන්න පොරවත් අරගෙන
අපි මුළු දෙව්ලොවම කපා
විකුණමු මුදලාලිට

Kanchana Amilani (4) Forbidden Tree

Come, Adam
let us to the forbidden tree
armed with axe
to turn into timber
for the merchant.

Give me another rib
to conjure a mother-in-law
a good one
pliant
who loves only me.

Come, Adam
come with axe
let us to pieces cut heaven
and sell it all
to the merchant.

(Premaye Karthu, Page 15)

Her verses are short, sometimes sweet and sometimes extremely sharp.

පිළිස්සුම්
දුම් පිඹින
ඉස්තිරික්කයක්
ඔබ
හිතත් – පපුවත්
එකට පුච්චන

Burning

An iron
spouting steam
that’s what you are
burning alike
and together
both mind and heart.

(Premaye Karthu, Page 18)

සඳලූතලයෙන් පැනීම
පේ‍්‍රමය කියන්නේ
සඳලූතලයෙන් බිමට පැනීම
අල්ලාගන්නට
ඔබ නැති බව හොඳටම දැනගෙන

Jumping from the balcony

Jumping from the balcony
knowing well
you aren’t there to stop the fall –
that’s love.

(Premaye Karthu, Page 51)

Kanchana Amilani (5)Speaking further about cyber poetry, she said that sometimes it seems fair that veterans undermine cyber poems. “Most cyber poems lack quality. The number of poems posted online during a day is very high. Not everyone who posts cares to edit their work, go through their work carefully to identify grammar or spelling mistakes,” she reiterated that online writers should also develop self discipline in writing and posting their work.
“Cyber space produced some extraordinary poets during the last couple of years,” she said taking Ruwan Bandujeewa and Saumya Sandaruwan Liyanage who were appreciated as the best poets last year at literary award ceremonies.

She added that although internet seems captivating, it has an ugly side which every internet user should be mindful of. “An online writer should be extra careful in publishing their work online,” she warned. “We don’t know who we are dealing with. We don’t know who is there behind the screen. It could be an angel. It could be a demon,” Kanchana emphasized that it is always better to be vigilant about the dangers of internet as one can easily forget the dangers while preoccupied with its pros. “Internet is like a sharp knife. One can use it to cut vegetables to make a good soup where as another can use it to commit murder,” she added.