Rejected by the publishers Recognised by the state | Daily News

Rejected by the publishers Recognised by the state

Timran Keerthi

"Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest' was exactly what went through my mind when I saw the familiar gait of Timran Keerthi ambling on to the stage. He was the recipient of the 2015 State Literary Award for Sinhala Poetry. This was Nelum Pokuna, on 20th October. It is not that I know of him: I know him. And I owe it to him to write his story. Him receiving an award is a victory for all the infant literati, the new comers to the literary scene. There are hundreds like him, the literature lovers who sit on the fence with the 'to write or not to write" dilemma.

A very fewmay win with great effort but most give up and go into the 'dead poets society' with their thoughts unexpressed.As such, Timran's victory is not about a line from Grey's renowned Elegy, but a true to life birth of a poet who can do with what little I can write to applaud him and give him the recognition that he is more than entitled to.

It was 'Yannang Chandare' that lofted him to the pinnacle of poetry writing. I have read the book and it stays by my bed-side, the kind you grab when you have minutes to spare. I often open a page and read and go to a different world where Timran writes his ragamuffin stories in his self- taught style. There are twenty nine poems, written in simple verse, stories of smaller than small people, to be appreciated by those who can understand life at a lower lane. That is his world and he simply mints the words that 'he breathes and lives' as a daily bread. The foreword to 'Yannang Chandare' is by eminent Dr Amarakeerthi Liyanage who gives a superlative explanation to most poems in the book with excellent analyses. This gives the reader an erudite opinion of Timran's poetry, and Timran certainly scores high with Dr Amarakeerthi.

And for me the best poem was 'Gini Gath Rayak' (a night that caught fire) which is Kamala Akka's story. She is a LSO - a Lady Security Officer in a factory, the ones that wear coarse dark ill-fitting uniforms and thin faded epaulettes and stand all day. The poem is about Kamala Akka's one-night-stand with a fellow guard in the security hut. Timran's imagination is a 'spot-on' reality, his expression is sensual and his word play is woven lustfully and truthfully. This poem was selected for panel discussion at Annasi and Kadalagotu Literary Festival.

That is the book, two hundred rupees per copy and was self-published, simple reason, no takers in the publishing industry. That is the sad part of literature. The book is good enough to win the State Literary Award but cannot find a publisher who would bet on him???? "Three people who loved what I wrote gave me money to publish the book," says a grateful Timran. And thereby hangs a tale of how a poet was born from the wilderness to take his rightful place among the literati of Sri Lanka.

Timran grew up in Rath Mahara, somewhere near Giriulle, an insignificant little village that is not even a dot in a map. His father Dayaratne was a murakaraya (watcher) in an estate and mother Kusuma looked after the home. "When I was a child, I thought the estate was ours," Timran grins and recalls. He studied up to 'A' levels and missed entrance to a university. He then picked a varying careers of a day-labourer to earn his coins for survival.

"Mama mati thaluwa (worked in a clay plant) Kohu thaluwa (coir plant)lin kapuwa (dug wells) such were his occupations that varied from day to day. Later he started working in a garment factory loading and un-loading containers. That is where he met Ruwanthi Sandamalee the love of his life and now they are a little family of three with a 2 year old son who has been named 'Orion' after the celestial constellation of the hunter straight from Greek Mythology.

This is the lot of award winning poet Timran Keerthi. Humble beginnings, self-taught literature and writing through the drudgery of a hand to mouth existence. The talent is all intact, its delivery has been measured and had won and Nelum Pokuna was the proof. But where does he go from here? To some sort of literary fame and remuneration for his creative efforts and commitment? Or would he write a few more and crawlfrom pillar to post looking for a publisher and then perhaps admit defeat and go into oblivion? Yes, he graced the periphery of the literary world as the recipient of the State Literary award for poetry. He is more than qualified to enter the abode of literati in Sri Lanka. He certainly could stand on his own to be counted as a poet. But? The big but is 'how does he find a publisher who would recognise his proven talent.'

That is the cross-road and there are no visible direction boards to people who come from places like Rath Mahara. The windfall would be for some 'lit-loving' publisher to call him (tel 0717484639) and tell him what is marketable from a publisher's point of view and what the publisher would like to print and market. All Timran needs is a contract, and he would write the publisher's request; maybe another book of poetry, maybe a novel or maybe short stories. The writing ability that Timran displayed in 'Yannang Chandare' categoricallyqualifies him to write anything and make a success of it. IT IS A PUBLISHER HE NEEDS - SOMEONE WHO WILL UNDERSTAND HIS RAGS TO LITERATURE JOURNEY AND GIVE HIM A BREAK AND A PROMISE FOR PUBLICATION.

My main objective of writing this article is to give root to a tendril of hope;some belief that Timran would get a contract to publish. He is no longer the well digging and lorry loading labourer writing poetry in an excise book page by lamp light. He is a State Literary Award winner selected to walk on stage at Nelum Pokuna and receive his recognition by none other than His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka.

He must then surely be a back-able horse to anyone in the book-trade.

I wish you luck Timran Keerthi, my poet from the wilderness. I am sure some kind Literature appreciating book producer will give you the chance to shine and get to the lime-light, which, no doubt, you richly deserve. 

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