Interview with budding poet Timran Keerthi who won the award for the
Best Poetry Collection for his book ‘Yannam Chandare’ at the
Godage National Literary Award Ceremony 2015
“Literature is not only for the people who are well educated. It is not only them who find literary texts aesthetic. It is not only them who know how to appreciate art,” said award winning poet Timran Keerthi who has immense experience with daily paid manual workers. “Even people with minor jobs find time to read poetry or enjoy a song. May be this is being overlooked since they do not take a pen and write their feelings down and publish books or post them on social media. But this doesn’t imply that they are not interested in literature,” he stressed.
Reflecting on his poems he said that most of the poems he writes are self-oriented and based on first hand experiences. He passed his Advanced Level with excellent grades, but couldn’t take up higher studies. He may not be involved with a desk job which requires him to wear suit and a tie, but he doesn’t regret it and enjoys the type of work he does
Timran’s second poetry collection, ‘Yannam Chandare’ recently won the award for the Best Poetry Collection at the annual Godage Literary Festival. His debut poetry collection, ‘Saadaya Sudanam Viya’ was published in 2009 by Boondi.lk online community.
Timran’s award winning poetry collection itself brings proof that even people employed with minor jobs are capable of appreciating literature.
කලකට ඉහත රාත්රී මුරකරුවෙකු ලෙස මා සේවය කළ මුරකුටියක සේවයේ යෙදී සිටින තරුණයෙකු දුටුවෙමි. ඔහුද කවියෙකු බව පසුව දැනගත්තෙමි’
බදාගෙන සඳත් ආයෙම අතැරපං
පතාගෙන මොකුත් ලැබුවා නම් කියපං
සදාකල් උනත් බැරි නෑ නිඳිමරපං
හදාගෙන ඉඩක් කවි පදයක් ලියපං
සදාකල් වුණත් බැරි නෑ නිඳිමරපං
නිඳාගත් එවුං ඇහැරෙන කවි ලියපං
බදාගත් සඳත් ? අහසෙම තියපං
කැකෑරෙන දවල් හැකි නම් සඳ හොයපං
(? කවියක්ල 64 පිට)
“Some time ago when I worked as a security guard I met another young man, also a security guard, who it so happened was also a poet,” he writes,
Embrace the moon and let go again
If you yearned and obtained something let me know
stay awake for eternity, it’s not impossible
create a space somehow and write a verse.
stay awake for eternity, it is not impossible
write the poetry that those in slumber will awaken
keep in the sky that moon you clutched
and in the burning noontime look for moonlight
if you can
(Night Verse, Page 64)
Timran attended Labbala Gamini Maha Vidayalaya and Giriulla, Dambadeniya Maha Vidyalaya to receive his primary education. His poetic skills and creativity were prominent from schooldays that some of the poems he penned won certificates at provincial level. But he did not know how far his poems could take him. He passed his Advanced Level with excellent grades. Yet the challenges in life didn’t allow him to take up higher studies. He wanted to find a way to earn money and the only thing he could find was work which would pay him a daily wage. “I may not be involved with some desk job which requires me to wear a suit and a tie. I do not regret it, I enjoy the type of work I do,” said Timran humbly adding that the work he does to earn money falls more into the category that of a laborer.
”ගියා නං එරමිණි වැල් කඩාගෙන
පුතේ උඹ මිනිහෙක්”
මගේ නාඩගම් ඉවසලම එපා උනු දවසට
මී හරක් නැට්ට අතහැර
ඇයි යන්න බැරි එගොඩට?
පාලම පැනල කොළඹට
ගිය හුඟක් උන් දැන්
(ඇයි යන්න බැරි එගොඩට, 90 පිට)
‘If you can snap
those Eraminiya vines
I’ll call you a man’
even mothers concedes
when my idiocy
she can suffer no more.
Why can’t you let go
of that buffalo’s tail
and just cross the stream?
Many who took the bridge
and reached Colombo
have made it,
really made it!
(‘Ai Yanna Bari Egodata’, Page 90)
Timran spoke about the obstacles faced by those who reside away from Colombo in accessing literature material. He pointed out the poor-state-of-the-art facilities in libraries in rural villages highlighting how difficult it is even to find an award winning novel. “If a book is written by some famous writer you will be able to find it in a library. But, if the author is also not famous you won’t find his books in a far away library,” he said recalling his childhood days where he had to read and reread the same books in the village library because he didn’t have money to buy new books. He even depended on the village people who bought newspapers and asked them to keep the literature page for him. He collected them and made his own books to read.
He further said that even the officials who are in charge of enhancing these facilities seem to be abandoning their responsibilities. “If the government can be more oriented in developing the library facilities in rural villages and schools, it will accommodate more interest on literature. Not only are they marginalized from the highly educated literature enthusiasts, they are also kept away from literature, from good reading material,” he stressed. “Most of the time, they are also the ones who can’t afford new books for themselves. If the government also overlooks, who will provide them with these facilities?” Timran said adding that it is a must to enhance library facilities in the rural villages in order to nurture the aesthetic side of its people.
Reflecting on his poems he said that most of the poems he writes are self-oriented and based on first hand experiences. This could be the reason why Timran’s poems are sincere and compassionate. He doesn’t judge, he just mirrors the genuine feelings into a form of a poem which narrates a story of a commoner, making himself a part of his poem.
Timran said that he is not sure whether there are poems which can be categorized as ‘supreme poems’. “I can’t point out and say that this is a perfect poem and this is not. A poem is a poem. It is something free and incredible,” he iterated. “Even though sometimes those who write know nothing about poetic license or grammatical rules, their honest feelings make the best poems,” he emphasized adding that the Sri Lankan poetry critics have to be open in reading poetry.
His workplaces are where he meets different people. Their stories are far more interesting than the stories of people who sit at the same table for five days a week. Timran recalled that he first send his poems to newspapers. “They always had space for me, especially, Rivira and Ravaya newspapers. People who liked my poems posted them online. Without even knowing it, my poetry was popular among those who read them,” he said. He realized that he was developing his own identity in the world of poetry.
Speaking further about the poetry columns in newspapers, he lamented that the newspapers seem to shrink the space they allocate for poems. “This is mostly observed in national newspapers. Alternative newspapers still seem to have space for the budding poets,” he reiterated.
කව් පිටක පොඩි කොනක්
ජීවිතේ තිත්ත රස
එක හුස්මට ගිලින්ඩ?
එහෙමනම් අර කොනත්
වරෙන් එක පෙළකට
දිළිඳු කවි කෙඳි තබා එක මිටට
අත්පසුරක් කර පුදන්න
(නිම්මී 56 පිට)
a poet has but a tiny edge
in a page of poetry
so can you
the bitterness of life
in one gulp swallow
is a wide enough canvass
get your ass down here
to poetize together
we are ready!
to gather poor verse strands
and give that single bouquet as offering.
(Nimmie, page 56)