The third A&K Lit Fest stood by its promise to celebrate Sri Lankan identity through literature, as it came to a close at the colonial heritage hotel, the Mount Lavinia Hotel. The only platform which brings local literature representing the three main local languages, as well as the one of a kind programme which does not limit literature to the novel, A&K is the watering hole for the grass root level literary enthusiasts.
The diverse panels ranged from ‘A Whale of a Tale’ where Howard Martenstyn focused on his book Out of the Blue and how it helped to draw attention to marine conservation, to ‘Creating Fun for Young Ones’ with Prashani Rambukwella, who spoke to a small group of budding writers. ‘Romancing the Pen: Love, Lyrics and Literature’ brought to light some key personalities who had contributed to the Sri Lankan music industry like Krishan Maheson – one of the pioneers in Tamil Rap and Chandradasa Fernando, who is less known in person but whose songs are well recognized as he is the lyricist for the popular ‘Gypsies’. The conversation drew attention to the thin line between poetry and lyrics and which ended where.
‘Comedy in Story Telling’ did indeed ‘dispense laughter’ as promised with Indu Dharmasena and Nafeesa Amiruddeen speaking about their experience in producing some of the best comedies in the local theatre. ‘Drawing Stories: the Comic Book Influence’ was quite nostalgic with its references to the now misrepresented Sinhala Comic books (Chitra Katha) which were one of the key print entertainment channels several decades ago.
The series titled ‘The Story Behind the Story’ was a challenge to pick as the three panels discussed equally interesting topics spanning all three languages; Mahinda Masimbula on his award winning Senkottan, Ameena Hussein on The Moon in the Water, and King Rutnam on Komali King, the first locally produced Tamil movie.
The A&K Lit Fest’s repertoire of diversity was portrayed in the sessions which focused on online writing and blogging under the themes ‘Paperless Creativity: the Evolution of Online Writing’ and ‘Mixing Pleasure with Pleasure: the Joys of Food Blogging and Travel Writing’.
Simultaneously recognizing the importance of documenting history, the panel discussion ‘Reliving the Past: Historical Literature’ brought together a resourceful group of writers such as Charulatha Thewarathanthri, Asiff Hussein, Dr. Gamini Goonetileka, Tyron Devotta and Prashani Rambukwella.
The final panel ‘Doing it for the First Time: Virgin Authors Speak Up’ was a multilingual discussion bringing to light the writing and publishing process from the point of view of first-time published authors, including the author of the controversial 12.11.10 – Welikada, Kasun Pussawela, Sci-fi and Steampunk writers Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and Amanda Jay, Cricket fan Ranjan Mellawa and Tamil writer A. L. Haseen.
The day drew to a close with an intimate gathering for the open mic session and bringing down the curtains for yet another serving of ‘Simply Local, Simply Literature’ with Annas i& Kadalagotu.