please click to hear my closing statement


Mad about Cherita – me too and apparently it seems so many of you out there judging from the number of entries, which were close to 400, that I received for the contest.

The diversity of writing styles continue to inspire me and believe me, storytelling is very much alive and kicking via cherita which absolutely delighted me. We have Christine L. Villa to thank for her vision and idea for the very first Cherita contest. I hope this will pave the way for even more writers and poets to share their stories with all of us through writing cherita.

We have 6 top cherita – three winners and three honourable mentions. Choosing these 6 entries was tough but what was even tougher was having to disappoint other poets with their excellent submitted cherita by not selecting them for the main spots. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who shared their special stories and moments with me.

Please keep the campfires burning and do please keep sharing, telling and re-telling your stories which are your legacies for connecting and healing all of us in this chaotic and often cruel world we have to live in.

Vive la cherita and cherita terbalik !

I would like to leave you with two cherita of mine – one from i left long ago – my first cherita book, and the second from stolen nights – my second cherita book which launched in May 2018 if I may :-




the embroidered collar

of my cheongsam
one loose thread

straying out
celestial blue





rain has arrived

every window pane is wet
you bake his favourite cake

cherry madeira
and call memory
in for tea


A low and deep bow from me to all of you with my heartfelt thanks in my Hokkien dialect and in Malay.


kam siah and terima kaseh,


ai li
creator of cherita
editor and publisher of the cherita







Frameless Sky
 is happy to announce the creation of the very first cherita contest. This contest is in celebration of the 21st anniversary of cherita which is on June 22, 1997. From its birth to the present, a lot of people have been enthusiastically reading and writing this unique form of poetry. With the immense power of the internet and social media, and the growing popularity of the cherita: your storybook journal, there has been such madness about the genre.
To judge this contest, Frameless Sky had invited the distinguished ai li, the creator of cherita and editor and publisher of the cherita: your storybook journal.


Everyone who is mad about cherita is invited to join. Each contestant is allowed to submit a maximum of nine(9) entries. Entries must be the work of the submitting author, in English, and unpublished online or in print. Only cherita written by one person is acceptable. Thus, no collaboration will be allowed in the contest. Below the contestant’s submission, please write the full name and country of residence.


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.


the light is soft
and i am coming in
from your garden
there are voices here
in the old orchard
begging me to stay
                               ai li

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. Terbalik is the Malay word for reversal or upside down.

Cherita Terbalik also tells a story and can be written with up to three partners.

diamond evenings
mother cleaning
her gems
on the kitchen table
the darkened room
now sold
                            ai li

All entries to be sent by email to: aili@thecherita.com
Subject heading will be “Mad about Cherita – your full name”

Contest runs from May 15 through midnight of June 15 (PST). All entries received outside of the contest period will be ineligible. The winners will be announced on 20 June 2018 at 7.00 pm [PST].

If a winner doesn’t reply within three days after the day of announcement, another poet will be receiving the prize.
All rights revert back to the authors after the winner has been announced.

ai li’s criteria:
I am looking for cherita that capture the remembered thrill of being around a campfire, and being captivated by stories with subjects that are as timeless as the cosmos. I want to hear your authentic voice in six lines [either in cherita’s original format of 1-2-3 or as cherita terbalik – inverted cherita [3–2–1], [2–1–3], [1–3–2], [2–3–1] and [3–1–2]] about Life, Love and Loss. What works best for me is the poet or writer’s unique way of looking at the everyday but with fresh eyes, thereby giving us, the reader, a new perspective on what is familiar and around us.
I am not looking for diary entries or angry and political protests, all of which have their places elsewhere but are not for this contest.
Find the storyteller who lives in you and in all of us, and give him or her a voice with echoes of once upon a cherita . . . You are halfway there already.
I look forward to reading all your heartfelt stories with bated breath and wish you all the very best of luck.
From one storyteller to another, 
ai li
creator of cherita 
editor and publisher of the cherita : your storybook journal

Additional references:

First Place – i left long ago by ai li
This print book is ai li’s first book on cherita. This book explores the poet’s search for true identity and self and why we should not be afraid to be our true selves. ai li’s cherita will take you on a healing journey with words, minimal in content, but overflowing with personal truths and the deepest of emotions. She writes without armour. 
Second Place – a Kindle version of any past issues of the cherita: your storybook journal

Third Place – a Kindle version of any past issues of the cherita: your storybook journal
Three Honorable Mentions –  a “mad about cherita” keychain or a “mad about cherita” necklace, depending on the preference of the winner.

 *We look forward to all your submissions. Let’s all celebrate together and have some fun!*
Christine L. Villa
Founding Editor of Frameless Sky