With kind permission of the Edward Lear Prize for poetry, here are the 2017 winning poems.

Winning Poem by Ashwin Dias

The Funny People of Sri Lanka 

There was a young woman from Galle Who’s name no one could recall Whomever she met
Her name they’d forget

The pretty young woman from Galle

There was an old man from Hikka Who would only eat chicken tikka When served curd and treacle
His eyes had a twinkle

This funny old man from Hikka

There was a young scoundrel from Jaffna Went out with a pirate bandanna
“Ahoy me hearties!”
He’d say at the parties

By the wonderful beach; Casurina

There was a fine fellow from Kandy Who’d knock down his fair share of brandy This habit didn’t last
Ended up in a cast
The night they ran out of shandy

There was a young lad from Trinco He lived with a horse named Fiasco Whenever they would ride
The horse veered to a side

This unfortunate lad from Trinco

There lived an old man in Yala
Who once ran a big ice cream parlour However hot you felt
His ice cream would never melt
This wonderful old man from Yala

There was an old lady from Batti
She and her old friends were quite chatty Forever they would talk,
Whist on beaches they’d walk,
This wonderful old lady from Batti.

Ranga Rashmika in the centreIn Quest for a Grander West,

By Ranga Rashmika.

Thus, the Easterly flock left; in Quest, for a grander West,

Took to the high seas, amid a low-slung breeze,

When the low hung billows, arose to oppressive roils, they began to roll,

Bidding their pitiful farewells; prayers of blasé dole to their kin,

For they would say,

‘Fear not thy, for we shall Feast in the East, while you, Quest for the West’

And thus, the dome of the flocking herd, a drunken derelict, would say,

‘Fear not thee, for we intend to Fest, while we, Quest for the West,’

Thus, they left,

In Quest for a grander West,

Thus, the Easterly flock left; in Quest, for a grander West,

Taking much ration, to amply feed their passion,

On board, they gobbled, while their vessel wriggled,

But they cared, not a pickle, for their fest wasn’t subtle,

For thy dome would say,

‘Fear not thy, for we shall feast, while we sail through the beast,’

And thus, amongst the flock, a vulturine void of a peddler, would say,

‘Fear not thee, for we shall Fest, until we, Quest for the West, for it holds our trade’

And thus, they sailed,

In Quest for a grander West,

Thus, the Easterly flock left; in Quest, for a grander West,

Whilst the tempest grew vile, creeping upon each beastly mile,

Humoring, in orgies of their own reveries’, with each tossing waves of severity,

Had they cared for, they might have been spared for,

For thy dome would say,

‘Fear not thy, for we shall feast, for we cannot tame the coming beast,’

And thus, amongst the flock, a plump pudding of a man, would say,

‘Fear not thee, for we shall Fest, until we, Quest for the West, for it holds our orts’

And thus they sailed,

In Quest for a grander West,

Thus, the Easterly flock left, in Quest, for a grander West,

Where the lands are fertile, spreading many a mile,

Outside, their storm ravaged, in an insidious festoon, of unrivaled savage

But they cared, not for a dime, and gorged, onto every succulent lime,

For thy dome would say,

‘Fear not thy, for we shall Feast, in order to stay alive and abreast,’

And thus, amongst the flock, a duchess of dignity, would say,

‘Fear not thee, for we shall Fest, until we, Quest for the West, for it holds our fortunes’

And thus they sailed,

In Quest for a grander West,

Thus, the Easterly flock left, in Quest, for a grander West,

While a breach ate through their hull, screeching though the bulk,

The water of the sea poured in, as a frothing scoured, to what was left in its wake,

But they cared, not for a fig, for they had much gig wolfing a stuffed pig,

Had they cared for, they would have been spared for,

Yet, they pandered, over what was squandered,

And so, without notice, the deluge came in, for which they had no refuge,

And thus, they are said to have failed, in their sail,

In Quest for a grander West,

Onto thy mortal tests, against the dominating crests,

Ending in an eternal fest,

For not, the Coming of the grander West,

Save for, the Raging Tempest…………..

Misfortunes of the fisherman’s daughter by Pawan Madri Kalugala

There once was a Fisherman’s Daughter,

Who sat pondering all day by the water,

What Cockles in shells, Mussels and Whelks

Would think at their moment of slaughter.

“If I were an Oyster, my name was Sir Toister,

And my wife was an absolute fine-figured Clam,

Who brought her own house, made an excellent spouse;

Would my last thoughts be of sweet Pam?”

“Or if I were a Crab, nicknamed The Prancer,

Crowned in the Seabed as Most Elegant Dancer,

My leg-kicks and claw-clicks of grace unparalleled!

-Would I daydream of stardom as I were being shelled?”

She pondered and mused, and felt that ill-used

Were the Shellfish caught live and kept in seawater

By her Tyrant Father, who would butcher rather

Such familial joys and hopes underwater.

“O Clams, Whelks and Cockles, Oysters and Mussels,

A much higher Purpose you serve,” quoth she,

“Than to grace in a belly, your fine innards like jelly,

And thus, with a stroke! shall I set thee free!”

Thus proclaiming grand, “I shan’t let you be canned!”,

She graciously threw back the Crab to the sand

But panicking, Prancer, the much-famed Dancer-

With all his might- pinched his claws into her hand!

In the mighty bedlam did the Oysters and Clams

Clamp down ferocious, aplomb on her fingers

“Forward, ye Mobsters!” cried sudden a Lobster

“Attack this Monster, ‘tis no time to linger!”

Thus did the unfortunate Fisherman’s Daughter

For all her high Musings on Fish led to Slaughter,

Found the next morning, clipped-fingered and moaning,

Develop an uncanny dread of Sea-Water!

Red Shoes by Sarah Jaufer

I swam in the rain with my red, red shoes

Soaked to the brim with earth that was loose

Down on my knees

I fell, and the Trees;

and the Winds laughed and called me a goose!

A memory I held in my hand to my chest

An iced lolly made with pure lemon zest

My bright, red shoes

Now of brownish-red hues

Still retained the magic they’d possessed.

I could see goldfish, swimming through the soil
I dined with Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I could sit upside down
I wore a glass blown crown
Embedded with stones made of aluminium foil

I heard the singsong voices of a thousand fairies bright
Laughing and dancing around the fireflies at night
I guided kites in the sky
With a compass gone awry
And I could see through clouded moonlight

I travelled through the foam topped saltwater waves

Visited the mountain dragons in their caves

My shoes went hop, skip, jump

Tippetty tap thump thump thump

I was the chairperson at dignified goblin conclaves.

I still have my shoes as big as I am
For I remember the days when the goldfish swam
When I was young and I’d cruise
In my red, red shoes
And felt like the Queen of Buckingham.

A small scene by Benny Lau – Shawni

Back from the south,
sea sand still tickling toes,
laying here, on a bed of moss feeling fiery flows
coconut in almost everything, roti for breakfast, curry for lunch an Englishman in a sarong ordering another round
of arrack, ginger beer
cashew and lemon peel,
hoping this would make
his tummy heal

She was a dragon
or a tiger in the mist,
a unicorn nibbling pol-sambol off my wrist she smiled chili lime, taking slow sips everyone there mesmerised
by her dark pink lips
she tipped the bartender fine
to get ahead of the line,
proclaiming that a classy lady
never drinks wine
“pass me some arrack or toddy,”
she exclaimed
even Socrates was dressed shoddy, Diogenes felt no shame
don’t judge a book by the cover
or a lady by her drink
if the cat sat to think,
the whole ship would sink

Taking a shower
under a golden rain tree Frangipani, sweet as honey, pol-pani with plain tea
a new Tinder match,
another dropped catch
shoo! With all of that
oh! How I want us to be
like the owl and the pussycat, but all I am left with
is a blue ball and a cricket bat

Now Mynah birds sing frogs sit stoned
and I am all alone back in my zone

yawning a single syllable, soft and green
oh, bed so comfortable, sweet launch pad for dreams