T H E   C H E R I T A   A W A R D


a room
empty chairs

who got up first

to leave
the room ?


ai li
from paper flowers by ai li




the cherita award
an exciting new project from the 1-2-3 press

become a cherita storyteller to enthral a new generation of storytellers

all you will need is pen, paper, imagination
and an open invitation for spirit and muse
to grace your page


This is an open invitation for lovers and writers of cherita and/or cherita terbalik, the unique storytelling genre of 6 lines created by ai li.



no longer
comes to my hair

but snow
so quietly


ai li
from their wind songs by ai li


How would you like to see a book of your virgin cherita, one poem to a page, 90 poems to a book, to be selected, collated, edited and then published in paperback and kindle on Amazon by ai li, the creator of cherita, who also happens to be the editor and publisher of the cherita, and the creator of gembun, dua and 19 other unique and original linked forms ?

These books will be published in the same format as the cherita editions and also the writing in one breath and poems for inner rooms books by ai li. If you are unfamiliar with these books, I would like to suggest that you obtain a copy to familiarise yourself with what ai li is looking for in terms of quality of Cherita.

The chosen recipients of the cherita award will have their books of cherita published by the 1-2-3 press.

The best part I’ve saved for last.

There will be no fees payable by any of the successfully nominated cherita award poets or recipients of the cherita award. The hard work of selecting, collating, editing and publishing by ai li will be gratis.

Your finished book will be available on Amazon in paperback and kindle under the cherita banner.

If you’re game and ready for the cherita challenge and award, then all the relevant info you will need is stated below. Do please read on.




in winter

the light
is much

to love in
die in


ai li
from i hear the night by ai li




how to become a successful nominee for the cherita award


candy bar

in his worn hands
the middle aged man

his dark eyes
on me
at five


ai li
from say autumn by ai li



the cherita award guidelines
[please read them carefully below and adhere to them. thanks.] :


1. Send 30 of your best previously unpublished cherita [1-2-3] and/ or cherita terbalik [1-3-2/ 2-1-3/ 2-3-1/ 3-1-2/ 3-2-1] in the body of your email as your presentational portfolio. All cherita to be left justified. Please do not send any attachments and as they will be returned and not read. Please use the cherita award submission link. Only one presentational portfolio per poet can be submitted at a time.

2. The copyright of all submissions to the cherita award has to belong to the submitter, and the poem or poems have to be created by the submitter and not generated by AI [artificial intelligence].

3.Please do not send run-of-the-mill, conveyor belt, journal entries, religious or angry, political poems.

4. These cherita can cover births, deaths, anniversaries, betrayals, disappointments, abortions, bankruptcies, joblessness, vendettas, suicides et al. You can also include travel, work, hobbies, light and dark passions, eating disorders, night shifts, cross dressing, the erotic, mindfulness and any other subject matter that I may have missed or forgotten. The list is endless.

5. Please base your 30 virgin cherita on the themes of Life, Love, Loss and Renewal.

6. All cherita must be the author’s original work and copyright must belong to you and submitters have to be over 18 years old.

7. ai li will disqualify any submitted cherita which are under consideration elsewhere, entered into competitions, are submitted elsewhere or published before the book is released.

8. There are no deadlines as this is an ongoing award.

9. You are strongly advised to read as reference, any of ai li’s personal cherita books to give you an idea as to what she is expecting from your submitted cherita.

10. You have 3 options listed below:

i] If all 30 cherita from a presentational portfolio pass muster, the poet will be required to send in a further 170 previously published cherita for ai li to hopefully select and collate a final selection from the 200 submitted, to make up the 90 poems for a cherita award book.

ii] However, if only 20 of the submitted 30 cherita pass muster, a poet can still qualify for the next round but is required to further send in 180 previously published cherita for a final selection from the 200 submitted, to make up the 90 poems required for a cherita award book. 

 iii] Lastly, if none of the 30 cherita qualify to take you to the next stage, please do not despair because you can start afresh and send in a new presentational portfolio of 30 virgin cherita. ai li does not bite and you can persevere with as many attempts as you can come up with, as long as each newly submitted portfolio is virgin work, with no repeats from your previously submitted cherita portfolio. 

11. Copyright must belong to you. It goes without saying that the cherita has to be of a certain quality to qualify.

12. Please be aware that the entire design for the front and back covers, choice of displayed cherita for the back cover, to include the checking of the draft manuscript,  will be in the hands of ai li. The recipient will only see their finished books for the first time when they are launched.

13. A dedication and concise bio will be required from the successful award recipient.

14. There will no complementary copies for recipients of the cherita award.

15. Copyrights revert to the respective authors upon publication.




back alley

can be

too white
a murder


ai li
from december loneliness by ai li



If you have any queries, do contact ai li before sending in your Cherita Award presentation portfolio.

Send your Cherita Award presentation portfolio in the body of your email[left justified] to ai li at aili@thecherita.com
Please double click and use the standard submission email above.
Please do not copy/cut and paste this link elsewhere to use as this will not work.


ai li
creator of Cherita
Gembun and Dua
editor and publisher of the cherita


 copyright © ai li 2023




your piece

of jade

this evening
when i dream
of home


ai li
from their wind songs



The Original and Official Guidelines
C H E R I T A    G U I D E L I N E S


CHERITA [1 — 2 — 3]
[pronounced CHAIR-rita]

Cherita is the Malay word for story or tale.
A cherita consists of a single stanza
of a one-line verse, followed by a two-line verse,
and then finishing with a three-line verse.
It can be written solo or with up to three partners.

The cherita tells a story. It was created by ai li
on the 22 June 1997 in memory of her grandparents
who were raconteurs extraordinaire. It was also inspired by Larry Kimmel’s sensitive recognition of a shorter form contained within the opening three-verse stanza of ai li’s LUNENGA, which had been created on the 27 May 1997.


CHERITA TERBALIK – inverted cherita
[3–2–1], [2–1–3], [1–3–2], [2–3–1] and [3–1–2]
[pronounced CHAIR-rita tur-bar-lake]

The Cherita Terbalik can be written
in the above stanza formats.
Examples of inverted cherita can
be found in several editions of the cherita.
Terbalik is the Malay word for reversal or upside down.

copyright © ai li 2023



G E N E R A L   C O N D I T I O N S

Once we notify you that we have accepted your poems for publication, in the print, e-book, and/or online versions, please do not share, submit your work elsewhere, enter any of them into competitions or publish them elsewhere until we have published your work in the proposed book, or the editor will withdraw your work from publication.

We also ask that you refrain from republishing your work in any medium [including facebook, instagram, twitter and blogs etc.] for 90 days from publication in the new book.

the 1-2-3 press does not pay its contributors nor does it offer contributors’ copies, although they will be available for purchase. Copyright reverts to the author or artist upon publication.

the 1-2-3 press reserves the right to reprint contents from its publications on its website and in future print anthologies without having to seek further permission from its submitters, and all submissions to the cherita, the cherita award, the Gembun Anthologies and the Dua Anthologies constitute acceptance of this condition.

the 1-2-3 press reserves the right to print online or in print journals and anthologies, in whole or in part, in its sole discretion, all letters and comments to the editor without having to seek further permission from the author, and submission of comments or letters to the editor of the cherita, the cherita award, the Gembun Anthologies and the Dua Anthologies constitute acceptance of this condition.

copyright © ai li 2024