A literary magazine from the hill country
Literary magazines published in Thamil in Lanka give some indication
of the trends in contemporary writing. Such magazines are published in
Colombo but there are quite a few published in Thamil speaking and other
areas too. One such magazine is Kolunthu edited by Anthony Jeeva of 57
Mahinda Place, Colombo 05.
For some time it was published from Mahanuwara (Kandy). So far 28
issues have come out. The latest has an appreciable get up than its
previous numbers. Kolunthu means tender tea leaves. Understandably the
magazine promotes writing from the hill regions of Lanka - Central, Uva
and Sabragamuwa regions. This was because literary evaluators usually
concentrated and promoted writing only from the north and ignored other
regions. As if with vengeance writers and intellectuals from the hill
country have emerged as a formidable strong force that could not be
ignored any more.
The Editor Anthony Jeeva (not to be confused with Dominic Jeeva,
editor of Malikai), though born in Colombo took interest specifically in
promoting literature of the people of recent Thamilnadu origin along
with other pioneers in the progressive advance of that community. But he
is not parochial and in fact he thinks nationally and has wider contacts
with other writers in Thamil and more importantly with the Sinhala
dramatists and writers.
Diminutive Anthony Jeeva is an enthusiastic literary figure in the
country. He is a dramatist, actor, columnist and vociferous speaker
fighting for the need to set
wrongs to rights.
Influenced by the late Dayananda Gunawardene in the field of stage
plays, he is also an ardent searcher for knowledge in arts and
literature. He may not be an academic in the formal sense but he has
acquired a lot of knowledge in an intelligible manner. His contributions
to Lankan Thamil Literary Arts Scene should be evaluated on another
occasion. He is very fluent in Sinhala too and that I a great advantage
for him to mix with the Sinhala literati and artistes.
The September-October 2009 issue of Kolunthu is available belatedly
rather late due to obvious reasons. The cover of the current issue
depicts a colour photograph of a literary event - a meeting of
international Thamil Little Magazines. The picture shows some prominent
Lankan writers writing in Thamil. They are Pathma Somakanthan, Anthony
Jeeva, Prof. Saba Jeyarasa, patron of the arts Hashim Omar, Kalaichelvan
and Prof. S. Santhirasekean and Barrister S.Joseph.
Within the 48 pages the magazine carries a few more photographs of
literary events. Among the articles is one by the editor - a note on the
late G.K. Haththotuwegama. He recounts that he learnt about street
theatre from GK and on one occasion with Gamini, he directed street
drama on the streets of Hatton during a May Day Parade. He also
conducted a workshop with Gamini H. on 2007 at the National Educational
College. Another interesting article is on George Wall (1820-1894) by T.
R. Gopalan. We learn that the Britisher George Wall was member of the
Lankan Legislative Assembly during 1857-1887. He was also a poet,
writer, politician, president of Lanka Planters association and an
He was a prominent advisor for the country's Coffee plantation. In
1850 he had published a book on Fertilization for Coffee Plants. He
cared for Plantation workers and initiated a bill. His documentation on
deaths and ill nourishment among the workers is still applicable.
He was an intellectual even though he had to face criticism from many
quarters for being sympathetic to the downtrodden. He was a humanist he
advocated learning in mother tongue in 1880 and the Government enacted a
law in regard to this in 1900. He was a philosopher too. He wrote many
articles explaining his philosophy of love for the humankind in the
We must thank the writer T R Gopalan for the valuable information he
had given in his article. He is a senior writer from the hill country
and had written seven books.
The editor of Kolunthu in his note refers to another great politician
from the hill country. He was Deshabakthan Ko. Natesa Iyer (1887-1947).
Calling him a 'personality of an Epoch', the writer reminds us the
though he was born in Thanjavoor in Thamilnadu, he was a spokesman for
not only the people of recent Indian origin but also for the downtrodden
anywhere. He identified himself in Lanka as a trade unionist,
politician, creative writer and journalist. Readers might remember that
it was Dr Kumari Jayawardene who unearthed the significance of Natesa
Anthony Jeeva has also written an essay on the politics in the
hillcountry beginning from Natesa Iyer to Soumiyamoorthy Thondamaan.
This piece should be read by all concerned.
Young people write to this journal contributing poetry and short
stories. Among them are M.Mohana from Maskeliya, Suguna, and A.
Gunanathan from Malaysia,
There is an interview with a Lanka born writer in England- Vavaniyoor
Ira Uthayanan who won the Lanka State Award for the best novel in 2008
written in Thamil. There are short reviews of magazines in Thamil and
recommendation by Kolunthu of books published locally at present. S.
Muralidharan appreciates the poems of Kanga Latha, a Lanka born
journalist working for a Singaporean Thamil daily. A. Sivasunramaniam
has written a critique on Thamilnadu's prominent writer - the late
This magazine hitherto was not regularly published but with new
format one hope it appears at least once in three months. One should
congratulate the enterprising editor.