Extraordinarily extempore | Daily News


 

Extraordinarily extempore

During the early sixties, I happened to come across a certain viridu recite who played the hand drum himself. He composed his viridu verses and was known as one of the best creative viridukarayas (viridu singer) that the ten Radio Ceylon had. He is known to the listeners as GM Piyadasa of Galle. Later on, he happened to be the first editor of a poetry magazine titled Viridu.

Being the writer-publisher, he had a good chance of selling the magazine. He used to talk to me on the subject of Viridu and how the genre was utilised by kings and statesmen in the past. My friend passed away. But to my grave surprise, there emerged a chip off the old block, namely GM Ajith who surpassed and utilised all the skills of his father, Piyadasa.

Poetry evenings

Ajith is more known as a ‘hitivana kaviya’ or a poet extempore who possesses an extraordinary talent of reciting instant poems fascinatingly brightening the poetry evenings. Right now, he serves at the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in the capacity of an advisor. As I found transcending the skills of his father, he has become a multifaceted artiste in the field of arts.

To his credit, he is the printer cum publisher who brings out his own poetry collections. In addition, he edits a poetry paper ‘Kaviya’ that carries various types of poems, mostly the versified ones. Further, he writes and publishes his Sinhala ballads, the latest one being ‘The Dreams Untold by King Kosol’.

Down the centuries from the Kandyan period of Sinhala ballad-writing, Jataka tales have been in the main source for most poets of the country. In this collection of Jataka tales running to 500 in number, there is one Jataka tale titled Mahasupina Jataka. In the tale, the protagonist King Kosala or Kosol sees 16 dreams. When he narrates these tales to the Buddha, he is made to know that the content tends to happen not in the present era, but later on, perhaps several centuries later.

These tales could be interpreted as a series of fantasies that foretell the nature of a future human existence. What the poet Ajith does is to get inspiration from the source and attempt to write his own 16 tales, which he states and ‘untold’ by King Kosol. Hence the title: ‘Kosol Raju Noki Sihina’.

Legacy left behind

As a fond and grateful tribute to his father, he had commenced reprinting the poetry periodical edited by his father, Piyadasa, left behind several years ago. The poetry periodical is titled Viridu. The poetic genre Viridu is not as popular as it used to be when it was recited by a few singers known at the time. They are Ananda Kaviratne of Ratnapura and Minipura Jayasena and a few others.

The poetic tribute by Ajith to his mother is titled ‘Ammage Matakaya’, a series of prose and verses mixed reminiscences that evoke a sensitive layer of pathos from a son to a mother. The series of poetic memories remind the reader of the folk poems as recited over the years in the grateful recalling of maternal love and affection.

As a reader and listener of Sinhala poems, I found these two poetic works namely ‘The Untold Dreams of King Kosol’ and ‘The Reminiscences of the Mother’ quite fascinating and fruitful in the impact. Perhaps it may depend on the impact it makes on the rendering technique of the recite. The poet is seen using the age-old conventional pattern as well as the most modern ones as expression.

The next publication in the list includes a new poetry magazine quite modern in the outlook or the design is titled ‘Virita’ (The Metre). There were a number of poetry magazines during the post-war period of poetry writing belonging to the group of Sinhala poets called Kolamba Kavi or poets of Colombo period.

Poets from the past

The major names include PB Alwis Perera, Wimalaratna Kumaragama, John Rajadasa, HM Kudaligama and UAS Perera (Siri Aiya) to name a few. They were followed by the poets like Sri Chandraratne Manawasinghe, Mahagama Sekara and Madawala S Ratnayake. There was a time when Sinhala poems came to be more known as they were broadcast through a programme called ‘Padyavaliya’.

GM Ajith, on the launching session of his works at the Public Library, Colombo, stated what emerged as a gift on the part of Colombo poets in the country and where they faltered as poets. This I felt like a sensitive literary observation of one’s own category of fellow mates. Where one errs and where one achieves have to be judged well.

Ajith too feels that the free verse type of poetic contribution is seen as a strong influence. It has not yielded much good hope in the direction of better poetic creations. But he firmly believed that the creators should be given a chance to do so as variations to the traditional patterns as handed down the centuries as a need.

By and large, GM Ajith looks a creator who has a strong tendency to face challenges in the field of creative activities with reference to poetic abilities. The poet too attempts to bring out a series of profiles of the past poets. Up to now, he has brought out six such works to his credit.

“We are poets,” he told me,” so we may tend to make the world a happier place.”


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