What better way to forget the cares of the world than to listen to poetry being recited by the young poets who were short listed for the Edward Lear Poetry Prize? That is exactly what this author found herself doing at the most interesting venue; the Owl and Pussycat Hotel at Thalpe, Galle! After the recitations, the winner Gayan Perera was awarded the prestigious prize for his humorous poem ‘ Billy Joy in Folly Land,” a lyrical marvel which tickled our funny bones and tested our imagination to the fullest.

Poetic mayhem or nonsensical poetry was made famous by the great British poet of yesteryear, Edward Lear whose work has had a profound effect by enthusiasts, especially the younger generation of poets as proven by the number of entries received from all parts of Sri Lanka. The judges were tasked with shortlisting five of the best from the sixty five entries received and it certainly was not a walk in the proverbial park.

“Thanks to those at OTP,

Who built the hotel by the sea,

Edward Lear is far from gone,

Edward Lear is very much here!” recited Aftab Jafferjee in jest which suited the occasion ideally. The writer and poet who lives in London was part of the judging panel which included imminent personalities such as Anthea Peris Flambert, Dilhani Thantirimudalige and Gehan Talwatte.

For the first time this year the five finalists were requested to recite the poems, making the judging process all the more challenging but quite interesting as we too were privy to a bout of humorous poetry by the sea on that balmy afternoon.

The winner, Gayan an eighteen year old is studying medicine but allocates time to delve in his hobby- poetry, which he took an avid interest to at the age of fourteen while studying at Lyceum International School. “It was my Speech and Drama teacher who encouraged us to appreciate poetry and use our imagination in writing. This is the first time I submitted a creation of mine at a competition and I am thrilled to have secured the prize,” enthused the young poet.

There were also some witty poems such as “The Wheels on the Bus” by the second runner up Khema Wijeywardane, a self- proclaimed dog lover and travel enthusiasts who finds humour in the mundane and presents it in rhyme. The third runner up Sandesh Bartlett entertained us with his jibe at the ‘C.A.C- Colombo Aunty Club.” A ‘foodie’ and a prolific writer who uses his spare time to write, hopes to publish his novels one day.

Hasangee Jayawardane, the fourth runner who though not a dedicated journal keeper is an avid reader. The past pupil of Ilma International, Asma Rizmi was the fifth runner up who writes during her leisure.

This endeavour continues to entice many to tap into their potential at creating the most amazing poetry. For years, many have secretly done so without a platform to express their creativity while others are not motivated for lack of encouragement and appreciation but the Edward Lear Poetry Prize has opened a portal into a world of limitless wonder…

                                                         The Panel of Judges

Aftab Jafferjee, the writer and poet based in London, ranked in Band 1 in the field of Crime by Chambers & Partners. When appointed Junior Treasury Counsel in 1997, Aftab became the first member of any ethnic minority to be so appointed in the one hundred and thirty eight year history of Treasury Counsel. He was appointed Senior Treasury Counsel just four years later. Aftab appeared primarily at the Central Criminal Court, dealing with a wide range of some of the most high-profile cases in the country and was listed by The Times as being one of the country’s top ten criminal barristers at/under the age of fifty. He is proud to announce that he has just completed his first novel to be published later in the year.

Anthea Peris Flambert, a licentiate teacher of speech with the Trinity College of Music, London, she finished her formative education in Sri Lanka, and then travelled to many continents to study and work. She lived and studied in the United Kingdom, and West Africa (she also taught in the latter), before moving to Canada and eventually to the Caribbean. While overseas, she worked for several years in the teaching field, in news casting and also as the Assistant Director General in the leading private television station, in Haiti.Since returning to her homeland, she not only established herself in the broadcasting

(both television – ITN and radio – Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation) fields in Sri Lanka, but also focused on three categories of teaching.

Dilhani Thantirimudalige is a poet and a free-lance communication specialists who hails from Kandy. She began writing and publishing poetry as a young student of Good Shepard Convent. Her poem at that time “The world I see” was chosen to be published in the American Poetry Anthology of 1991. Among her favorite styles of writing are the narrative and confessional poems that share expressions of memories and experience. She owns a Bachelors Degree in the stream of social sciences from the open university of Colombo. Presently she lives with her husband and two children in Homagama.

Gehan Talwatte is a London based media entrepreneur and investor. He chronicles his search for the best martini at martinimandate.com

The Winning Entry

Billy Joy in Follyland

by Gayan Perera

Once there was, a little boy, whose name was Billy Joy,

He heard of a land, called Follyland,

In it was a clan, making folly plans.

He thought it would be fun and made a run,

Through hills and valleys and jungles and alleys,

When suddenly he saw, a beautiful gate,

With colours of the rainbow shining bright,

And on it was the word ‘Follyland’.

He entered through the gates into Follyland,

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 Follyland, where folly is the plan’,

Said the dog with his fang.

Seeing this folly plan, decided Billy,

To traverse the entire land, to see the truth of Follyland.

So, over the hills he went, browsing everywhere,

And then he came to the caves of Follyland,

Where he saw a frightened  bear, and he said with a dare,

‘Oh bear ! , Oh bear ! , Oh bear ! , Why so scared, over there?’

‘It’s ants ! , it’s ants ! , It’s ants !,

Waiting right over there, to get in my fluffy hair ! ’,

Said the bear, with a mighty scare.

‘Why should bears be afraid of ants,

When bears should be eating ants in cans? ’,

Asked little Billy Joy.

‘Oh my !, Oh my !, Oh my !, You may be right,

But this  is Follyland, where folly is the plan’,

Said the growling bear, with a solitary stare.

Then off went Billy to a glittering pond,

And saw a fish sun-bathing, on a Hocus frond,

‘Oh fish ! , Oh fish ! , Oh fish !,  Why are you so foo-lish,

When the sun would fry you ready for a dish?’,

Asked little Billy Joy.

‘Oh my ! , Oh my ! , Oh my !, You may be right.

But this is Follyland, where folly is the plan’,

Replied the sizzling fish, with a tickling squish.

Then Little Billy Joy, looked up at the sky,

And saw a glider fly, with mighty wings so high,

Where birds in it lie.

‘ Oh birds ! , Oh birds ! , Oh birds !,

When nature’s wings are thine, why get a glider to fly?’,

Said little Billy Joy.

‘Oh my! ,Oh my! ,Oh my!, You may be right ,

But this is Follyland, where folly is the plan’,

Said the birds on high, with joyous might.

‘Oh my !, Oh my ! Oh my!, This is really Follyland !,

Where follies are the plans, of the clan in the land.

Better be out of this land, before I become a folly lad,

Thought little Billy Joy.

So he ran and ran, as fast as he can,

Until through the gates of Follyland he sprang,

Then rushed to a cherry tree, and there he laid,

With his feet up on a branch and his head resting on the trunk,

There he forgot the follies of Follyland,

And at last he was glad, that he was out of Follyland.

By Rochelle Palipane Gunaratne


Photography By: A. Thennakoon

Edward Lear style
Edward Lear style
Edward Lear style
Edward Lear style
Edward Lear style
Edward Lear style
Edward Lear style
Edward Lear style
Edward Lear style
Edward Lear style
Edward Lear style
Edward Lear style
Edward Lear style
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About Rochelle Gunaratne

I believe that everyone has a story to tell and in turn, I love listening to those stories, attempting to paint a picture to my readers with my words. I may not be an artist or painter, but I believe words can create powerful images in ones mind and it is how we share our stories with others.
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