Posted on May 14th, 2016

By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando 

A literary Festival is generally recognised as a gathering of both authors and readers, held annually to afford an opportunity to authors mainly to feature and demonstrate a variety of their work thus stimulating and inspiring. Such festivals bring both the books and the reader together without creating a street market atmosphere. In other words, it will become a market place of thought and oasis. A literary festival that usually lasts for several days gives culture, new ideas, poetry and enjoyment with the main intention of promoting authors’ prose and verse in cultivating and nurturing adoration towards writing and literature.

Literary Festivals are held around the world and designing of those may vary from country to country, depending on the philosophic and scholastic emphasis without getting the general public involved in certain countries as much as with the participation and contribution of the public by others. In Sri Lanka Galle Literary Festival has earned the reputation as the most popular one so far with wide ranging activities .

New Concept

The Annasi and Kadalagotu (AK) Literal Festival is the latest in Sri Lanka with an unusual title too, given to it by Capt. Elmo Jayawardena with Keith Wijesuriya and a number of other volunteers to conceptualise their idea in pursuit of making literature more accessible to the average Sri Lankan.

The AK Literary Festival focuses on local artists and theatre as the normal tendency has been to project literary festivals as catering only to a narrow elitist community. In such a backdrop it is an attempt at broadening the audiences that attend such festivals so that the general public will feel welcome and be interested in attending such festivals.

Second Year. 

This is the second successive year the AK Festival is a attempting to broaden the concept of the audience by making the public interested in literary festivals. AK Festival highlights events touching on different areas of writing and provides the opportunity for unknown local artists to feature their work. The festival, which runs for two days, aims to provide such artists with the opportunity to take their work to the next level in terms of recognition and value.

English will function as the common language throughout the Literary Festival, however organisers have catered to having trilingual events on both days. Their panelists and moderators devote their time, effort and energy voluntarily in contributing their skills for this event where some volunteers come all the way from Jaffna and Batticaloa to participate without a single payment.

Some of this year’s events would be a creative writing workshop, copywriting in advertising, script writing in cinema, writing, the digital space and 2 panels on unknown authors as well as award winning authors. In addition the AK Literary Festival would provide school children with the opportunity to express their poetic skill as well as their opinions.

They focus on children from grade 6 to 12 to enter the competition and winners will be given awards and cash prizes.  In this respect the organising committee of the AK Literary Festival has already published several articles in local newspapers and sent letters of invitation to school teachers and schools with a view to encourage the students indicating the dead line to enter the competition as 10th of April 2016. What is exceptional about this year’s festival would be a poetry competition of this nature for the first time for school children

The ‘Poem of the year’ event in particular will be focused and open only to school children under three specific themes of (1) Peace (2) Being Sri Lankan and (3) Kindness giving the choice for the children to select from what they would be best at. The poem of the year 2016 competition will be held on the 14th while the Literary Festival will be on the 14th and 15th of May featuring different events that discuss wide-ranging literary themes. A&K Literary Festival will be bringing in panelists from a variety of fields to broaden the discussions that would take place.

The organisers are quite contended having received 60 entries from school children from all over the Island. Panel of judges will be shortlisting 10 poems out of all the entries received and provide the contesting children with the opportunity to read their poems on stage followed by the final selection of three winners and distribution of prizes and the A& K Poem of the Year awards.

The event will be held at the Western Province Aesthetic Centre Colombo 7; from 10 am to 6 pm. Tickets are priced at 100 rupees a day. The organisers of the festival hope to use the funds out of this year’s collection to creating mobile libraries in rural areas

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