FAITH RATNAYAKE

Short stories, poetry, fiction, research, journalism

Member of the EWC since 1990

Born in England during World War II, Faith’s mother gave her first lesson in writing, aged five:  ‘Write your own story’.  Her school teachers were encouraging and she enjoyed learning.  Aged 19, she decided not to enter University, and joined the BBC Japanese Service.  She studied Japanese language and culture, and worked on editing English scripts and news bulletins for broadcast, researching and translating listeners’ letters.  In 1962 she joined University of Sheffield Centre for Japanese Studies, helping establish, organize and operate the Office and Library, and liaising with UK Asian Studies Centres.  In 1965 she married Dr H A Ratnayake, the then voice of BBC Sinhala Service ‘Sandesaya’ Programme, and returning to London worked for the Japanese Sanwa Bank until her husband obtained his Ph.D., and they migrated to Ceylon.

From October 1966 she worked in commercial enterprises, and in 1972 became Programme and Information Assistant in FAO Representative Office, where she did research, prepared project proposals, and monitored project activities. She represented FAO in Seminars and Workshops in-country and abroad as Resource Person/Lecturer.  From then on her working life involved technical writing, information, reference, library and archival work.  She found a creative outlet in writing short stories and articles for newspapers, and free-lance writing and journalistic work for the Japanese Ambassador.  Leaving FAO in 1997, she free-lanced preparing projects, publicity, information, and library and archives maintenance for Worldview International, FAO, UNDP, and IOM.

During 1972 to 2000, she continued studies in librarianship, languages, database technology, counselling, journalism and horticulture.  In 1993 she obtained from the Open University of Sri Lanka her Certificate in Journalism and in 2000 the Diploma in English, which four-year course of study and appraisal of literature: novels, short stories, poetry; and the history, formation and teaching of language materially helped her refine and focus her own writing.

Her husband’s work as Archaeological Director of the Jetavana Conservation Project of the Central Cultural Fund inspired her to draft her first book of prose and poetry, ‘Anuradhapura: The Upward Path’.  Encouraged by Dr Ananda Guruge, who sent her manuscript to the Educational Publications Division, Ministry of Higher Education, it was published in 2000.

Joining the English Writers’ Cooperative in 1990, she was a founder member of the English Writers’ Group ‘Wadiya’ in 1995.  In 1997 she was awarded a bronze medal for her poem ‘The Many Shades of Yellow’ from the draft of ‘Anuradhapura: The Upward Path’.  It appeared in the anthology ‘Awaken to a Dream’, published by the International Library of Poetry, 1997.  In an interview by ITN television in 2003 on her work, she invited them to include writers Wilfred Jayasuriya and Sisila Cooray from the two writing groups.  In 2014 Faith was interviewed and featured in ‘Ceylon Today’

Her book ‘Different Accents and Mental Movies’ was awarded the 2006 State Literary Festival manuscript Award, published in 2006 by the Department of Cultural Affairs.

Faith is editing her autobiography, and a children’s book ‘Uncle Henry takes Charge’ describing langur monkey adventures, and two plays, ‘Chumps in Graceland’ and ‘The Light’.  She is also researching a forgotten 19th century manuscript she discovered which has links with Sri Lanka.  She has regularly contributed short stories, articles and poems to the Daily News, The Island, Lanka Monthly Digest and Lanka Woman, and her poetry has appeared in ‘100 Words’ magazine, USA, and in FAO Headquarters ‘Ceres’ magazines.

Faith is mentioned in ‘Anthology Celebrating Sri Lankan Women’s English Writing Vol.II’ by Yasmine Gooneratne, Women’s Education & Research Centre, 2002.  She assisted Eva Ranaweera with practical editing and other work in WERC and her poems have appeared in their publication ‘Kantha Handa’.  From 2010 to 2012 she compiled the biography of eminent Desamanya Dr. A M M Sahabdeen ‘Beyond the Horizon’ published 2012 and in 2015 edited the first edition of a Journal on Management for the University of Kelaniya.  She appreciated discovering new and exciting concepts in this latter field.

Currently retired, she continues work with EWC having been Secretary and sometime Treasurer for ten years, and thrice Editor of ‘Channels’ and is Treasurer and unofficial record-keeper of the Wadiya Writers Group.  She continues researching the position of women and children in society, and agriculture and self-development projects.  In her writing she focuses on prose and poetry, reading, particularly autobiographies, and in helping younger writers through seminars and meetings of the writers’ workshops.  She enjoys corresponding, architecture, landscape gardening, herb/medicinal plant cultivation and use, interior decor, yoga, and spending time reading and playing with her grandchildren.

 Publications

Professional Publications and Resource Papers

Bibliography of FAO Reports to the Governments of Sri Lanka and Maldives 1953-1986

Role of FAO in National Agricultural Research in Sri Lanka 1989

Agricultural Productivity Villages:  Priority areas for FAO assistance. 1980

Rural Poverty Alleviation in Sri Lanka w/ reference to informal agricultural sector. 1992

Literary Publications

Anuradhapura: The Upward Path: A volume of prose and poetry on the City of Anuradhapura. Educational Publications Division, Ministry of Higher Education.  2000.

Different Accents and Mental Movies.  2006 State Literary Festival Award for manuscript.  Published 2006 by Department of Cultural Affairs

Short Stories and Poetry

Contributor to ‘Channels’ Journal of English Writers’ Cooperative

Contributor to ‘Waves’ Journal of English Writers’ Workshop, Wadiya Group

Short story In ‘Nothing grows under the Banyan Tree’ Published by Daily News 2007

Short story ‘Meetings’ in ‘Milk Rice: Stories for Children’ ed. Ameena Hussein, Popsicle Books Colombo 2008

Articles published.

Lanka Woman, articles, creative writing, short stories and poetry

Short stories and poems in Sunday Times, Daily News and Island newspapers

Freelance writer for Lanka Monthly Digest on travel and culture, heritage and environment in Sri Lanka, and agriculture/general interest features and poetry:

  • ‘Contemplation: A forest Monastery (at Kaludiya Pokuna) in LMD 2; 11.6.1996
  • ‘Female Figures’ LMD 2m7 6 Feb 1996
  • ‘Kaludiya Pokuna’ 2/10 May 1996

‘The Appointment’ short story in Kantha Handa:  (Voice of Women) 1999

 

 

 

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