ARTRA’s Top 10 of Artist Challenge l Poetry l Chantal Ratnayeke

Art is alive
Art never dies… writes Chantal Ratnayeke, the winner of ARTRA's artist challenge under the category of poetry, in her poem The Price of Art. Indeed, art is eternally alive; it has, perhaps, never been more alive than it is today, during these times of trepidation and disorder. Chantal Ratnayeke's pen breathes eternal life into words, arranges them in lines compacted with motion, and turns them in to animate beings capable of speaking immortal words that know no boundary of time and territory. Simply put, her poetry is alive; her verses are articulate of ubiquitous phenomena that define our reality and existence. The themes she explores are of universal relevance, and the techniques she uses in doing so are delicate and powerful. This is exactly what compelled us to recognize Chantal as the winner of ARTRA's artist challenge; we applaud her poetic craftsmanship her poems bear evidence of, her choice of subject matters, and her ability to subtly manipulate the ethos of the reader, inviting them to ponder and explore manifold avenues.

Even though she has shared a close relationship with poetry throughout her life, she started "writing‟ poetry only recently. “Creative writing has been a passion since a young age, and poetry has always appealed to me. I always thought of writing poetry but I put pen to paper two years ago,” says Chantal. Within these past two years, she has produced poetry that is indicative of her craftsmanship in creating artistic expression through masterfully woven lines. Some of her artworks include The Universal Discovery of Self, an exploration of the human connection to the universe, The Bauble of Earth, a poem that articulates the effects of climate change, The Underwater Blues, a close-to-heart exploration of depression, and The Orchestra, a poem that projects a classical music concert in a new light. These poems encapsulate the essence of human life, both communal and personal, and present them in a novel thought-provoking manner.

Poetry has been something innate to her; she has always found poetry to be a companion, drawing inspiration from many things: “I find inspiration in too many things,” she shared with us. The natural world that she sees and feels serves as a source of inspiration and muse to her. She absorbs the world around her in its entirety and multiplicity and later pours down her thoughts into scribbles on the paper and molds it into poetry. She exercises freedom of thought to its fullest and likes “to view humanity form different perspectives, to find great beauty in the natural world, and to explore a spectrum of ideas,” to quote her own words. And we found that her poetry showcases the lush richness of the gamut of ideas she explores as an artist and a creative. We celebrate Chantal for her choice of subject matter and the themes explored which are of a vast scope ranging from the brutal reality of communities to seemingly plausible dystopias we might walk in to unconsciously. For instance, she treats the not too thin possibility of a dystopian future where human beings no longer rule and are transformed in to automate machines in her poem The Human Automation. Another poem named The Black Complex deals with the harsh racism we all know too well, reminding us of the vast array of themes she sheds light on through her poetry. 

We recognize Chantal for the specialty of her poetry that emerges from their ability to evoke a plethora of sentiments in the reader's mind. Her artistry is such that she can convert inanimate pieces of paper containing words in to live beings capable of triggering the thought process of the reader. We applaud the poetic artisan in her who manipulates language in such a way that a caesura – a simple line break speaks volumes to the reader, propelling him/her to break the regular train of thought in accordance with the line break and think anew, traversing across the realms opened by the rich lines of the poem. We found her poems to be compacted with carefully chosen words purposely placed and repeated at certain points to achieve a certain goal – to invoke certain emotions and to prompt the reader to reflect, which we find praiseworthy. The Human Automation, for example, is one such poem that summons images of a bleak future to the mind, giving rise to a justified fear and urges the reader to contemplate.

To Chantal, poetry is a medium of conveying her inner thoughts; it is an art that she will spend a lifetime mastering. As an artist, she hopes to offer people enjoyment and positivity through her works. And it is no exaggeration to say that she has been successful in doing so. Reading her poetry, we find, is an encounter capable of giving both intellectual and aesthetic pleasure simultaneously.

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22nd May, 2020 Written Art | Poetry