Upeksha Imali Premathilake An Alacritous Poetic Sense-maker

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By 2017-07-12

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By Shenal Rajakarunanayake

Her poetry is instantaneous, uncensored and springing to readers' minds with a "AHA" feeling. Yet it isn't raw or half cooked. She doesn't need arduous wordings to flourish her poetry, because it instinctively happens without any doubt. She isn't a narrator yet she is a prompter who fills the gaps with indelible creativity. Her poetry hardly distracts yet deflects the thought process to see the unseen with a different point of view. Her craft is subtle and humble yet never obedient. She knows when to rebel and conform through her transfixing poetic skills. Undoubtedly Upeksha Imali Premathilake is an alacritous poetic sense-maker who cannot be missed.

Susum Deka Thunaka Dura
Naadunana Apa Athara
(Only few breaths in between us)

Q: Though you have penned "Susum Deka Thunaka Dura Naadunana Apa athara" (Only few breaths in between us), you have named your anthology as "Susum Naadunana Apa Dedena" (We, the unknown breaths). Can we know the reason?

A: There is no specific reason, yet it may better be identified as a result of series of thoughts which eventually distilled into a phrase.

In life, we encounter many relationships and these relationships make us worth living. Literary, it is about two unknown individuals who are either connected or unconnected within distance of few breaths, yet they aren't capable of fathoming a tiniest breath of the other. This can also be viewed in a "Known yet unknown" eye where there's still more to be grasped or known. Perhaps these two know each of them yet they are unlikely to understand what is really in between or what lies beyond. This indeed is a complexity which needs to be addressed, yet hardly given any positive attention. Hence it is quite plausible to address it as "Susum Naandunana Apa Dedena" in many cases.

Q: In the recent past, short poetry has been best chosen by most of the poets and also well-embraced by readers. What are your thoughts?

A: Amid the chaos of life, it has hardly become possible to concentrate on large narrative of epics. Instead people are more used to embrace couplets, free verse and haiku which are categorized under short poetry. Personally, I prefer to pen short poems, because it marvels me every time. It soothes the reader and also leads himher to a different state of mind. It broadens the vistas of imagination which indeed add more colours to the original craft. It simultaneously drives the reader to dive into the deep ocean of thoughts where his thirst can be quenched with many aspects. Further I think it is better not to over wrap the truest essence of a poem with many phrases and words hence without any doubt short poetry becomes my personal favourite.

Digu Sipa Geneem Awasana
Hathi Damai Cigarette Kota
Bima Wathira
(After a long warm kiss, ends of cigarettes relax on the ground)

Nahekili Inna Wera Darai
Nidahasin Pasu Sinha Kodi
(Sri Lankan flags try to remain uncrushed after the celebration of Independence)

Q: What are your thoughts on metaphorical value of short poems and its usage in your poetry collection?

A: I am a writer who sees the beauty of anything instead its bitterness. Hence it's quite easy for me to analyze an incident with something else, as we call here as metaphorical value in the context of poetry. This has to be done cautiously as well as creatively because this has a huge strategic coherence to its core meaning or rather the message to be conveyed. By nature, short poetry can either be written as inside-out or outside – in relation to its core. Since its inception, short poetry has been renowned for its metaphorical value and unlike other forms; it has been a mandatory requirement. The metaphorical value of short poetry is much higher compared to other forms of art mainly due to its wide scope. Further, it is also broadening its value through building linkages with readers' experiences.

Q: As T.S. Elliot once said, "Immature poets imitate and mature poets steal". As a poetess who pens her thoughts relentlessly, from where does your inspiration flow?

A: As always reading has been my major pillar of support. Reading should cover all aspects and I believe it helps your thought process. I am an ardent reader and I get inspired by other poets' creativity and their dimensions. This invariably inspires my poetry and poetic capability through which novelty can be experienced. On that note, it is "Yes" that immature poets imitate and mature poets steal.

Moreover, as an aesthete who enjoys the little things in life I gain a more room to sphere head my poetry which indeed can be considered as an advantage. Further, I believe my ceaseless writing behaviour has also paved a long way to my new book. My first book 'Palingu Keta' was launched in 2012, since then I have been writing ceaselessly. There was a period my poetry was called as #Street Poetry where I used to pen my thoughts based on the incidents I observed, witnessed and felt by heart while traveling for day to day chores. As far as I believe, it is essential to engage in writing interminably because it moulds the formation of poetic thought process.

Nuba Mage Priyathama Anduma
Andinnata pera
Wena Ayeku Regena Giya
(Before you got dressed in my favourite dress, you were taken away by someone else)

Mage Digu Hewanella
Wethira Atha
Maa Athera yana
Agei Paa yata
(The tall shadow of me lies on the road where she walks away)

Thei Koppaya Pathulehi
Ahamben Hamuwana
Diya Nowee Athi Seeni Kata Kihipayaki
Obage Preimaya
Jeewithe Mihiri Karawana....
(As the tiny un-dissolved sugar cubes at the bottom of a tea cup, your love makes my life sweeter)

Q: In today's context, rather sticking to old metaphors, it is quite astonishing to witness almost every poet using new terms, abstractions to bring new light to their poetry. As a modern cyber poetess, what are your thoughts?

A: The evolution of our language structures definitely has a huge impact on poetry, so do for other forms of literary artworks. Over the years, as humans we gain maturity where we would be more tempted to identify the smaller things which create the bigger things.This is a result of attaining age and I believe this would create a different sense to a writerpoet to find new ways of showcasing their poetry. Novelty is what I am craving for, so do the others. Hence it is quite natural to come up with different unconventional phrases and stanzas to blow the minds of reader. As a poetess who is also concerned about my audience, I would definitely like to see the end result from their point of view as well to ensure effective communication. Poetry is a mode through which we bridge the gap between souls, hence it is a must to find novel ways of scintillating the readers' minds. As you have pointed above, those poems were highly acclaimed for its novelty and that indeed a push towards keep engage in writing and constant reading in search of unknown.

On the other hand, it also helps the writer to get away from clichés which hinder the truest essence of poetry. For an example, since its inception the moon has been taken as a metaphor for beautiful face. Though it was done intentionally or not, after few decades it has become a cliché where any other face which is not similar to the moon wouldn't be appreciated. These boundaries have to be demolished and as poets or thought provokers we must keep on generating newer ideas to refresh the traditional thinking.

Wenda Beri Nisa Bo Kola
Helapa Othanawa
Kenda Kola
(As it is impossible to become a Bo leaf, Kenda leaves are used to make Helapa")

Sudu Paata Mihidumak Ethei
Us Kandu Mudunwala
Shokayeni Miti Kandu...
(Highest peaks of mountains are embraced with mist whilst short mountains remain sorrowfully)

Q: Do you think writing a poem is a discovery of one's inner self? Or is it a result of self-discovering one's truest version. What are your thoughts?

A: We as poets pen either our own experiences or experiences of others which led us to an emotional upheaval. Especially, penning thoughts from a third party point of view is harder, because its impact would be defined in different angles, or in other words poetry based on outside experiences would depend on the impact those created in the minds of poets. Hence to certain extent, it facilitates in discovering one's truer self than humiliating its greatness. Therefore, poetry indeed reflects the inner image which indeed will be embraced by the audience. Further, as long as the distance between poetry and poet becomes narrower, the validity as well as its essence would be transpired to many generations. Readers would find it as genuine hence more readers would embrace it with deep sense of love.

Q: Once Robert Frost said, "There are three things, after all that a poem must reach: The eye, the ear and what we may call the heart or the mind. The most important of all is to reach the heart of the reader". What are your thoughts?

A: Certainly, the most important of all is to reach the heart of the reader. Language, experience, structure and all other techniques used in poetry assist the readership in extracting the real essence of a poem. Yet I believe a poet should be more concern about its end craft because that would decide its delivery. As far as I believe, there's no point in writing poetry using arduous language.Language is just an instrument through which the core is delivered. As poets what we all should try is to make a positive note in the minds of reader in leading them to a poetic serendipity.

Q: Let's talk about your latest book's launch. When, where and at what time?

A: 'Susum Naadunana Apa Dedena' will be launched on 15 July 2017 at the auditorium of National Library and Documentation Services Board from 3:00 p.m. onwards. All are warmly invited to grace this occasion and I take this opportunity extend my heartfelt gratitude to all my friends and supporters in making this project a reality.

Q: Finally, how do you want to be remembered?

A: I do not want to be remembered as a poetess, because still there's a long way to go. Yet I prefer to be remembered as a person who penned short poetry all throughout because a life without poetry cannot ever be imagined.

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