INTERVIEW WITH INDUNIL MADHUSANKHA
Indunil Madhusankha is an internationally published promising young poet from Sri Lanka. He is currently an undergraduate reading for a BSc (Hons) Special Degree in Mathematics in the Faculty of Science, University of Colombo and he takes a great interest in the subjects of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science. In addition to Indunil’s involvement in the field of Physical Sciences, he also pursues a notable literary career. He achieved three gold medals and a silver medal from four All Island English Essay Competitions. Further, he presented several papers related to Education and English Language Studies at several national and international level conferences, and he contributed a few review articles to a couple of peer-reviewed international journals. He has undertaken several research projects pertaining to the areas of ELT, CLIL, and English Literature. Also, he completed the TKT examination and the three specialist modules YL, KAL, and CLIL. Indunil compiled his first collection of poetry entitled, Oasis when he was sixteen and he is currently working on his second collection, Reflections of Life and also on a book titled, A Rare Kind of Beauty, Yet Unexplored: A Selection of Modern Sri Lankan Sinhala Poetry featuring a translation of a set of select Sinhala poems written by some renowned Sri Lankan poets. He also enjoys interviewing fellow poets and practising the art of performance poetry. Moreover, his creative and academic works have been published in many international journals, magazines, websites and anthologies in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Africa, Nigeria, India, Sri Lanka and some other countries.
Welcome to Scarlet Leaf Review!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I am a simple person with an ardent passion for learning. I am basically a student of Mathematics and Statistics, and additionally I am involved in studies pertaining to such areas as Education, Psychology, and Language & Literary Studies. During my spare time, I read and work on poetry and several other forms of creative writing. My mother tongue is Sinhala. Also, I read works written in both English and Sinhala, but currently I write only in English.
Q: Do you think that your school years have had an impact on your writing career? If so, what were you like at school?
Yes, of course. My school years have certainly had a tremendous impact on my writing career. Those days, I clinched many awards in several national and provincial level English essay competitions and creative writing contests. Also, I had many of my creative compositions published in some local newspapers when I was young. Besides that, during my school days, I used to write in Sinhala too, and even won awards for many such creations. I, therefore, believe that all these achievements have certainly influenced my writing career.
Q: Were you good at English or like Einstein you excel now in a field that was a nightmare for you as a student?
Actually, I was good in my English since I was ten even though English is not my first language.
Q: What are your future ambitions for your writing career?
Like every other writer, I also have the dream of publishing my own collection of poetry one day.
Q: Which poets have inspired you and how? What was their impact on your work or your literary perspective?
There is a lot, but to list a few, I have been inspired by such great poets as William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, W.B. Yeats and Wilfred Owen.
I also love the works of Sri Lankan English poets like Patrick Fernando, Lakdasa Wikkramasinha, Anne Ranasinghe, Yasmine Gooneratne and Jean Arasanayagam.
Apart from that, I highly appreciate the writings of Sri Lankan Sinhala poets such as Kumaratunga Munidasa, Gajaman Nona, Wimal Dissanayake, Parakrama Kodituwakku and Monika Ruwanpathirana.
I am marveled at the effective use of language and literary techniques, choice of thematic concerns and the universal appeal in the work of the above writers.
Q: So, would you mind telling us what you have written so far?
Basically, I am a poet. But, I occasionally write essays and short stories too. I also like to translate well-known Sri Lankan Sinhala poems into the English language. Further, I have interviewed some of my fellow poets and I am also interested in authoring literary reviews. Moreover, I work on abstracts, research proposals and research papers.
Please see the attached documents for a list of my publications and some prominent awards that I have won.
Q: Where can we buy or see them?
Please refer to the links mentioned at the end for some of my writings.
Q: What are you working on at the minute? What’s it about?
I am currently working as a reader/reviewer for the upcoming anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses edited by the highly acclaimed poet, Michael Lee Johnson.
This anthology comes out as a book project by his large Facebook poetry group, Contemporary Poets, Their Works, Current Poetry Projects, News, Links the link for which is given below.
Q: When did you decide to become a poet? What was the decisive factor or you just took a pen and started writing poems?
I decided to become a poet when I was about fourteen years old after reading and being inspired by some stunning literary texts that had been prescribed for my English Literature course.
Q: What makes you write? What’s the force behind taking your pen (or your keyboard) and put verses down?
In most cases, it is social injustices which drive me to write. In my viewpoint, poetry is a microscope which the writer can use in order to zoom out to a subtler view of the varied social realities. But any scenery, event or situation that influences or inspires me deserves some kind of poetic exploration from my end.
Q: Do you write full-time or part-time? Do you have a special time to write or do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I write part-time and I do not stick to a particular time schedule when it comes to writing. I do write whenever the thoughts come to my mind, be it in a bus, at the lunch table or at a lecture hall.
Q: Where do your ideas come from? Or is it just the spur of the moment, a special feeling you experience or a specific conjuncture that offers you inspiration?
I think it is, in most cases, the spur of the moment.
Q: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
To be short and sweet, I think that the two clichés, Reading maketh a full man and Try and try, one day you can fly would explain it better.
Q: In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about writing?
To me, the hardest thing about writing is being adequately motivated.
Q: Now, what about the easiest thing about writing?
Well, the easiest thing about writing is, as I think, proofreading and editing.
Q: Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
No. I try my best to finish things as quickly as possible because I find it irritating when some business remains unfinished for a long time without being attended to.
Q: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
With my busy academic schedule and other obligations, presently I do not have a lot of time for reading books.
But whenever I get the time, I read Shakespeare, Jane Austen and a lot of other famous writers, both local and foreign.
I prefer traditional paperback books.
Q: What book are you reading at present?
At present, I am reading the novel, Waiting Earth by Punyakante Wijenaike who is a well-known Sri Lankan English author.
Q: Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
Usually, I myself proofread and edit my own writings.
Q: What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Self-publishing sounds nice because the book can be tailored to our own needs but the process is really hectic.
On the contrary, if we choose to get published by an editor or some publishing house, we have barely anything to do with the publishing process. That is good because we do not have to undertake any tedious tasks with regard to publishing, but sometimes it seems disadvantageous not to have any control over the process.
Q: How do you relax?
I read and write poetry in order to experience a sense of relaxation.
Q: What is your favorite motivational phrase? What is your favorite positive saying?
The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.
The mind is everything. What you think you become. – Buddha
Q: What is your favorite book and why?
It is really difficult to choose one when you have a personal library comprised of many enticing books belonging to various genres and cultures.
But to name a few, I love Shakespeare’s theatrical masterpiece, Macbeth, Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, Alexander Pope’s mock heroic, The Rape of the Lock, Anita Desai’s novel for children, The Village by the Sea and Martin Wickramasinghe’s novel, Madol Doova.
These outstanding literary works have influenced me prodigiously throughout my writing career.
Q: What is your favorite quote?
This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
Chief Seattle – Chief of Suquamish Indians in his letter to the American Government in 1854.
Q: Where can you see yourself in 5 years-time?
Most probably excelling in my postgraduate studies as a doctoral student in the United Kingdom or the United States.
Q: Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I would like to meet William Wordsworth and listen to the wonderful stories of how he derived such spectacular imagery from nature.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
As a beginner, it is quite important that an aspiring writer does an admirable amount of reading. Also, it is necessary to bear in mind that the harder we try, the more we reap. Therefore, try to evolve and improve your creative skill as you go on writing until some editor decides to accept your piece/s. Expert comments and reviews are also of paramount importance. It is thus better if you can get somebody to support you through the initial phase of your writing career. Further, it is vital that you refrain from being disheartened by negative feedback. Just take them as a source of inspiration.
Q: Where do you see publishing going in the future?
With the burgeoning increase of internet platforms, we are presently witnessing an unprecedented flourishing of creativity on the web. This has hence led to a revolutionary development in the publishing industry. Thanks to the widespread availability of so-called digital platforms, at present, anyone from any part of the globe has the opportunity to showcase his/her literary talents to a massive international readership. So, I am of the belief that with the growing advancements in the sphere of information and communication technology, publishing industry will explore new dimensions and thus will surely thrive in the years to come.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Yes, I would like to take this opportunity to express my genuine gratitude to the team at Scarlet Leaf Review, especially Roxana Nastase, the Editor-in-Chief who has always been very supportive and kind-hearted to the readers and contributors.
Also, it is with a true sense of pride and happiness that I grab this moment to honestly thank my parents, brothers, teachers and colleagues for always being there for me in my journey through life.
Q: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AIndunil%20Madhusankha%20Bassa%20Hewayalage
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
To bring joy to readers everywhere.