ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 20
Front Page Mirror

Poetry of a wallflower girl

By Marisa de Silva

"There was no glory when the battle was over, for in vain did men die of a patriotic fever…" this extract from Sonali Fernando's The Wallflower Girl seems to ring quite true in today's context of our country. This 24-year-old budding poet writes of love, life, God and heart-wrenching emotions… emotions we are sure to have experienced or at least crossed our minds, once in our lives!

Pix by Gemunu Wellage

"Growing up, I've always felt like I could blend quite easily into the background and that I never really stood out as such, so my poems which were largely written during that time, speak a lot about how I felt then," she said wistfully. "Now, many of my friends have objected to the title, saying that I was far from being a Wallflower Girl she said adding, that she didn't want to bother contradicting them. "After all, people most often see only what you want them to see about you, so it's quite obvious why they disagreed with my title," she said.

Having always been a habitual reader and music enthusiast, she was first inspired to write poetry as a result of a character called 'Annemarie' (incidentally her own middle name as well) in Enid Blyton's book Sixth Grade at St. Clair's, who always wrote poetry, she explained.

After reading it, she wanted to try it out herself and see how it turned out. Having churned out a few good poems, she kept at it. "I never wrote with the intention of publishing my work, I wrote more for my personal satisfaction and relief," she adds. But then one of her friends suggested that she put some of her poems together and send them to a publisher to see if they were good enough for publishing.

The publishers having liked what they saw agreed to publish her poems, about three years ago, she added.

Sonali's poetry is inspired by anything and everything from dreams to music, movies, perspectives on religion and a lot to do with feelings, more than incidents and people, she said. "For instance, a favourite poem of mine The Intended Spirit was written when I was going through a very difficult time in my life and it somehow gave me a lot of hope and belief of better days to come," she said reminiscing.

"I write anywhere and everywhere, in the bus, in church (as a lot of her poetry is about God), whilst out with her friends in the night – basically whenever and wherever I get an urge to write," she said.

Who knows she might even publish another book soon, she added. Heavily influenced by music, Sonali said that she'd even love to write some lyrics for a musician to perform as "I would much rather write for someone else than perform it myself," she said laughing.

"Poetry to me, is very therapeutic, I can get it all out of my system and not bottle it up inside. It helps me realise that I'm capable of withstanding much more than I thought I could," she explained.

As sometimes talking about her problems with friends isn't a solution, especially if they're recurring issues and she doesn't much like burdening her friends with her problems, so she prefers putting it down on paper.

Likewise, she said that a lot of people could seek comfort from the lines "Jesus wiped my tears away and brought me back when I went astray. Welcomed back and forgiven for wrong, as angels danced to a new love song," from another one of her poems.

This basically says that it's alright to stumble or make a mistake; it doesn't make you a bad person, as long as you realise your mistake and rectify your wrong and do the right thing eventually, she added. Many of her friends who read her poems were able to identify with some of the things she had spoken about, she said.

It makes people feel less alone, when they discover that there are others going through the same thing it also helps them understand their situation better, she added.

This whole venture not only gave her a lot of satisfaction but also helped heal the disappointment of not being able to study English for her A/Levels.

"This completely devastated me, so much so, that I didn't write for almost a year after that," she added. However, it worked out quite well for her as she decided to follow Divinity instead, and soon grew to love the subject, she added. It was even the source of much inspiration for her poetry, she added.

She also realised that just because she couldn't study English for her A/L's didn't mean that she couldn't continue writing, so, she went back to it, which turned out to be quite a good thing too, as she would never have been able to publish this book otherwise, she said.

The Wallflower Girl is distributed by Lake House (the publishers) and certain Vijitha Yapa Bookshops.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.