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The Writer ‘Abroad’ and the Readers ‘Back Home’

To be a non-white writer in the west today is probably very different from it was, say, fifty years ago. Books and ideas travel much faster now, and even if you are writing and publishing in the west, there are more and more people back home who have access to your works. And while this was always the case to some extent, it is now truer than ever that the most passionate responses and vociferous objections to your work are likely to come from readers at home. More often than not, by virtue of being based in a western country and writing about your home, your writing is treated with wariness and your motives with suspicion.

Books Collage

Samrat Upadhyay’s debut short story collection Arresting God in Kathmandu and Manjushree Thapa’s first novel The Tutor of History were both published in 2001. (Picture credits: Authors’ websites)

With few writers of international fame writing in English, and a smaller readership at home, Nepal’s case might be a little different from other South Asian nations. Samrat Upadhyay and Manjushree Thapa, the two best-known Nepali writers writing in English, command a less numerous as well as a different kind of readership than say Salman Rushdie or Arundhati Roy. Their writings, even when published by western publishing houses, find a larger and much more engaged readership at home.

Samrat Upadhyay’s Arresting God in Kathmandu (2001) was the first English book of fiction by a Nepali writer to be published by a western publisher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, US). The book not only garnered instantaneous fame in Nepal but also faced a lot of criticism, especially for the way it allegedly highlighted the negative side of Kathmandu, projecting it as a poor, corrupt and dirty city rampant with sexual promiscuity. Upadhyay became an overnight celebrity in Nepal, but readers questioned whether, while he was treated with indulgence in Nepal, he had any real international recognition. Manjushree Thapa, another well-known Nepali writer writing in English, has faced similar treatment: while she is hugely admired, her representativeness and authenticity are often questioned. As the two most well known Nepali writers living in the west (Upadhyay lives in US, Thapa in Canada) and writing in English, each of their works becomes not only the instant talk of the town but also the recipient of sometimes vicious criticism, quite often for ‘extra-textual reasons.’

 There is an interesting double standard at work in their reception at home. While many writers have written about poverty, corruption and sex in their works of fiction in Nepali, they have rarely been criticized for doing so and in fact writers are expected to write about issues that society shies away from.But this expectation gets turned on its head when the writer lives away from home and is courted by international publishers. The criticism, if any, isn’t as harsh when the writers are based in Nepal: Sushma Joshi’s End of the World (Fine Print, 2008), Rabi Thapa’s Nothing to Declare (Penguin, 2011), Prawin Adhikari’s The Vanishing Act (Rupa, 2014), and Pranaya Rana’s City of Dreams (Rupa, 2015), all expose murky aspects of Kathmandu/Nepal, but they have rarely been criticized in the same manner as Upadhyay or Thapa.

 Is it because we don’t want ‘outsiders’ to know about our dark side because that hurts our ego? Or is it that we resent the writers for capitalizing on our suffering for what we think of as their personal gain, without necessarily sharing in it by staying in Nepal? Or is it simply a version of the tall-poppy syndrome, as prominent a cultural phenomenon in Nepal as elsewhere. Thus, for writers from Nepal, at least from the perspective of readers back home, it is not so much having “cultural cache” but having your perspectives treated with suspicion that becomes a bigger problem, especially since, as far as I can tell, they want to write about Nepal and its cultural specificity because that is what they feel closest to.

 In response to the charge that Midnight’s Children portrayed an inauthentic picture of India Rushdie writes in “Imaginary Homelands,” that writers in his position, “exiles or emigrants or expatriates,” are haunted by some sense of loss and in their urge to come to terms with this loss “create fictions, not actual cities or villages, but invisible ones, imaginary homelands, Indias of the mind.” Yet no reader will be content with the thought that it is a “[insert country] of the mind” that is being presented to her/him, and not a ‘real’ place. For readers at home, fictional representations constitute a misrepresentation or a partial representation of home, while for readers elsewhere it is ‘information’ about a foreign country and culture. Neither is entirely willing to take a work of fiction seriously for its imaginative and poetic force, and not its portrayal of an actual place. If this were the case the discussion might be focused on the writing and not the writer.

 As things stand, almost all the non-white writers writing in English, and especially those based in the west, feel this discomfort: western readers expect them to tell ‘exotic’ stories, whereas their readers back home disparage them for this very ‘exoticization.’ To be a non-white writer in the white literary world is to be a living dilemma. You are expected to write in English with native command, yet without that native ‘sound,’ otherwise what’s the point of a non-white writer. Similarly, you are supposed to write about a world you don’t live in anymore because the world you inhabit now is not really your world, and therefore your subject. Moreover, there is a general tendency among ‘metropolitan’ readers to read white writers more for style (and content) and non-white writers for content (or, an ‘exotic’ style).

 As a non-white writer writing in the west, then, you probably are expected to write about the unfamiliar, the strange, yet in a language and style that doesn’t sound too unfamiliar. This is a terrain where you can’t be who you are and should try to be who you probably aren’t anymore. And, the moment you don’t sound strange anymore and your style and diction sounds too familiar, you have lost that fertile ground of conflicting identities, languages, cultures and realities, and probably lost a chunk of your readers who ironically like you for being conflicted and unsure. Do we even think of someone like Rushdie when we think of a non-white writer anymore? And, should we consider that as an achievement on his part or the ultimate failure?

 A non-white writer, thus, faces constant pressure, a simultaneous push and pull, while trying to please two otherwise diverse and contrasting audiences at the same time. And, even when you are writing in English, you have to give proof of your distinctive culture, on the one hand, and not have your writing fall into that category of writing that has already been stereotyped as South Asian, on the other.

 So, if you are a Nepali writer living in Australia and writing in English, for instance, you are supposed to do these three things (some for your publisher’s/readers’ sake, and some for your own): first, tell a Nepali story for the Australian/western audience; second, don’t offend your Nepali readers back home by the story you told to ‘outsiders’; and, third, sound Nepali/South Asian through your content and style, without sounding clichéd.

Quite a tall order!

(Published in SouthernCrossings: http://southerncrossings.com.au/arts-and-culture/the-writer-abroad-and-the-readers-back-home/ )




Some thoughts on Pranaya Rana’s “City of Dreams”


I wanted to read Pranaya Rana’s City of Dreams since it was published.  So, when Balu sent a copy of it as a gift from Nepal to Pravat and Pratima, I took the opportunity to read it quickly before passing it onto its rightful owners. And, here are some thoughts on it:

All works of fiction have descriptions of things and narratives of events, but City of Dreams not only has ‘stories’ to tell but also ‘art’ in it.  The finely woven surreal tales told in flowing prose full of intricate details tread along that thin grey line of human existence that divides the beautiful from the ugly, bravery from cowardice, good from bad, and salvation from doom. It is not that these stories cannot be narrowed down to an issue or theme: for instance, “Dashain” is a coming of age story, “Knife in Water” is about marital violence, “Maya” is about how poor girls from villages are forced into prostitution in Kathmandu, and “The Presence of God” deals with a young atheist ultimately accepting ‘God’. But all these stories are more complex; more layered and nuanced, so that reducing them to a simple theme strips them of their richness. The stories are keenly aware of the social, political and cultural context that surrounds them. There is a rich reference to the socio-political environment around them, from the Maoist insurgency to poverty and social divide, from the hardships of urban life to the inefficiency of the government bodies, and from the alarming brain-drain to social exclusion, yet none of the stories makes a direct commentary on them. Rather, though they make use of these social details, they simultaneously seem to be hinting at a more complex and diffuse reality.

This ability to incorporate both pressing social issues and hint at something beyond seems to be Pranaya’s strength (but could well be his weakness, too). Thus, while his stories are easy to read, they are not so easy to understand, if stories are to be understood at all. Story after story, there is something mysterious, something more than and beyond what the words say, something that is not so easy to grasp. If this is a question of developing his personal style or even a sort of philosophy of writing or indeed life, how far to take it would be an important question for him. He can write more enigmatic stories than these, and by doing that he will surely lose some readers, primarily the so-called ‘general’ readers. But whether he would make himself a better writer by taking this intuition further would be something we could only decide after reading more from him.

Pranaya’s bold use, not only of Nepali words but of entire sentences every here and there, mostly without a translation or even without italics (except for longer phrases/sentences) is something that you surely won’t miss. So, don’t be surprised to find words and phrases like ‘lutey’, ‘saley’, ‘jyotish’, ‘maar’, ‘mamaghar’, ‘pichaas’ and ‘Kuirey’, or fillers like ‘khoi’, ‘kya’ or ‘chup’, or phrases/sentences like  ‘Koi cha?’, ‘Ke bhayo?’, ‘Aira ho?’ ‘Kasto cha timilai?’, ‘Ma sakdina’, ‘Phuchcheharu lai, no entry’, ‘Dai, kun gaon ho yo?’ on every other page. Every time I came across these words and phrases, I would wonder what someone who didn’t know Nepali would make of them. But hasn’t the same thing happened to us when we read many foreign stories, and hasn’t it enriched our experience and knowledge of them rather than limiting it?

Among a few others, there is one thing in particular that I might call a blemish in his storytelling: his endings. His beginnings are amazing, his middles are remarkable, but it is in the endings that he seems to be confused and lost. Sometimes they are overly didactic (as in “The Presence of God”), and at other times they are so perplexing (which is the case for many of the stories) that you are not sure what to make of all the pages that you read to arrive there. In fact, he has accepted this difficulty in one of his stories where he writes, “And yet one little thing remains—the end. How to end it? All that has been said, all that hasn’t been said, all depends on the end….There would be no end to my story. May be that was the way it was supposed to be. After all no story ever ends.” While I appreciate the difficulties endings pose to writers, particularly writers of short-stories, I wonder if the resolution suggested here isn’t a little bit easy, and clichéd, almost a kind of deliberate closure to more original ways of thinking about endings. A more thoughtful and interesting approach to endings might provide better directions to his stories.

The big names of Nepali English writing have more often than not disappointed us over the years; the quality of their works has hardly been able to match to the fame they have earned. Rather, it’s the writers of the younger generation who seem to be doing their job better. After Prawin Adhikari’s Vanishing Act, Pranaya Rana’s City of Dreams has been that book of short stories by a Nepali writer in the recent times that has undoubtedly made me more hopeful about the future of Nepali English literature.







यस्तो होस कविता


                                               “Bright Softness” by Ellohine

नहोस् कविता
कसैले अनुहारमा
चिसो पानी छ्यापे जस्तो –
छोअोस कविताले त गालामा
मयुरको प्वाँखले छोएसरी
अनी लागिरहोस पछिसम्म
मुटुभित्र काउकुती

नबनोस उपमाहरुको खात
अनी प्रतिकहरुको थुप्रो कविता –
देखियुन कविताका बिम्बहरु
पर हिमालमा हिउँ देखिएसरी
तैपनी होस् मनमा शीतल

ह्वार्र बलेर निमेषभरमै निभ्ने
खरको आगो झैँ नहोस् कविता –
बलोस कविता सालको मुढो झैं
मन्द राप दिएर रातभर
र, न्यानो बनाइरहोस्
वरिपरी बस्नेहरुका मन

नहोस् खहरे जस्तो कविता
एकैछिन गडगडाउँदै उर्लिने
अनी क्षणभरमै सुकिजाने –
कोशी जस्तो अविचल, अविराम होस् कविता
सतहमा शान्त
गहिराइमा निरन्तर बलिया प्रवाह

बनोस बरु जुनकिरीको पिलपिल कविता
र, लागोस देख्नेलाई पनि–
हो कि हैन ? छ कि छैन ?

फुलले समेत चाल नपाउने गरी
बसोस बरु पुतली झैँ कविता
हृदयका पत्रहरुमा

छाओस मन्द सुवास सयपत्रीको झैं कविता
टक्क अडियोस हिँड्दै गरेको बटुवा,
र, तानोस लामो सास

सङ्ग्लो तलाउ झैं होस् कविता
र, देखियोस त्यहाँ
आफ्नो अनुहार छर्लङ्ग

खुला आकाश झैँ होस् कविता
बिना कुनै बाधा-ब्यबधान जहाँँ
पाइयोस निश्चिन्त भएर उड्न

कविले कविता हैन, कविताले लेखोस् कवि
अनी, झरोस हिउँ जस्तै नरम बनेर
पाठकको मनमा
फुस्स, फुस्स
र, जमेर बसोस हृदयमा
अनी, घाम बढ्दै जाँदा पग्लँदै झरोस कविता
तप्प, तप्प, तप्प . . .

यस्तो होस कविता



मार्केसको ‘बुढो मान्छे’ र डा. गोविन्द के.सी.


नोबेल पुरस्कार बिजेता कोलम्बियाली लेखक गाब्रियल गार्सिया मार्केस (१९२७-२०१४) को एउटा अनौठो कथा छ: “अजङ्गका पखेटा भएको बुढो मान्छे” । समुद्र किनारमा बस्ने पेलायो र एलिसेन्दाको आँगनमा एक रात एउटा अनौठो जीवको अवतरण हुन्छ । कपाल खुइलिएको, दाँत झरिसकेको र दुबै तिर निकै ठुला पखेटा भएको एउटा वृद्ध मान्छे । उसलाई देखेर शुरुमा त उनिहरु डराउँछन । तर आँगनको हिलोमा गाडिएको अत्यन्तै कमजोर र निर्दोष लाग्ने त्यो बुढो मान्छेलाई अली बेर नियालीसकेपछि भने उनिहरुको डर कम हुँदै जान्छ । त्यसमाथी छिमेककी एउटी महिलाले “यो पक्कै पनि आकाशबाट झरेको बुढो देवदुत हुनुपर्छ” भने पछि त उनिहरुको डर पुरै हट्छ । भोलीपल्ट देखी नै त्यो अद्भूत बुढोलाई हेर्न उनिहरुको आँगनमा विशाल भिड जम्मा हुन्छ । यो देखेपछि एलिसेन्दालाई एउटा जुक्ती आउँछ । उनिहरुले आफ्नो आँगनको वरिपरी बार लगाउँछन र त्यो अलौकिक बुढोलाई हेर्न चाहने प्रत्येक ब्यक्तीसँग पाँच-पाँच सेन्ट उठाउँछन । यो अनौठो समाचार सुनेर धेरै टाढा-टाढाबाट समेत मान्छेहरु आउँछन, उनिहरुको आँगन बाहिर सानो-तिनो मेला नै लाग्छ । र, एक हप्ता पनि नबित्दै उनिहरुको घर पैसाले भरिन्छ । त्यती मात्र नभएर उक्त बुढोको आगमन पछि ज्वरोले निस्लोट भएर थलिएको बच्चा पनि अचानक निको हुन्छ । यसरी, त्यो बुढो उक्त गरीब परिवारका लागि साँच्चिकै देवदुत साबित हुन्छ ।

बुढो मान्छेको अवतरण भएको केही समय पछि शहरमा अर्को त्यस्तै अनौठो घटना घट्छ । कतैबाट मान्छेको टाउको तर माकुराको शरीर र खुट्टा भएकी एउटी “टारान्टुला” केटी त्यहाँ आइपुग्छे । बुढो मान्छेलाई हेर्न पेलायो र एलिसेन्दाको घरमा जम्मा हुने रमितेहरुको भिड अब भने बिस्तारै त्यो अचम्मकी “टारान्टुला” केटी भएतिर सर्छ र उनिहरुको घर आँगन पहिला जस्तै सुनसान बन्छ । तर यो बिचमा जम्मा भएको पैसाले उनिहरु बरण्डा र फुलबारी सहितको आरामदायी दुई तल्ले घर बनाउँछन । कुखुराको खोरमा कष्टकर जीवन बिताइरहेको उक्त बुढाको भने उनिहरुले कुनै वास्ता गर्दैनन । उनिहरुका लागि अब उ केवल बोझ र परेशानी बाहेक केही रहँदैन । कष्टकर हिउँद सकिएर बसन्त ऋतु लागेपछि अचानक एक दिन त्यो बुढो खोरबाट बाहिर निस्कन्छ, आफ्ना खुइलिसकेका वृद्ध पखेटा फडफडाउँछ र बिस्तारै आकाशिन्छ । कथाको अन्तिम  दृश्यमा क्षितिजमा बिलाउँदै गरेको त्यो सानो बिन्दुलाई हेर्दै एलिसेन्दाले आफ्नो जीवनबाट एउटा झन्झटको अन्त्य भएकोमा सन्तोषको सास फेर्छे ।

जब मेडिकल शिक्षा र समग्र स्वास्थ्य क्षेत्र सुधार्ने उद्घोषका साथ डा. गोविन्द के.सी.ले आफ्नो पहिलो अनसनको घोषणा गरे, चारैतिर एउटा तरङग फैलियो । उनको सेवामुखी  पृष्ठभूमि, सरल निस्वार्थ जीवनशैली र बलियो अडानले सबैलाई अचम्मित पार्यो । जस-जसका बिरुद्द उनी लडेका थिए, तिनिहरुले त उनको सत्तोसराप गरे, बाँकी धेरैले उनको प्रशंसा र समर्थन नै गरे । माग पुरा भए, अनसन टुट्यो, तर कागजमा गरिएका सम्झौता कार्यान्वयन भएनन । डा. के.सी. फेरी अनसन बसे । र, जब यसरी अनसनको क्रमसंख्या बढ्दै गयो, शायद बिस्तारै डा. के.सी.को “न्युज भ्याल्यु” घट्दै गयो । यतीबेला दशौँ पटक अनसन बसिरहेका डा. केसीको समाचारमा शायद अब कुनै ‘चार्म’ छैन, न मिडियालाई न त सर्वसाधारणलाई नै । धेरैका लागि उनी एक ‘इरिटेसन’ बनिसकेका छन । उनको दसौँ अनसनकै दौरानमा ‘तरकारीवाली’ देखी कन्चन शर्मासम्म आइपुग्दा उनीभन्दा धेरै ‘आकर्षक’ र सनसनीपूर्ण कथाले पत्र-पत्रीका, टेलिभिजन र सामाजिक-सन्जाल भरीइसकेका छन । अस्पतालको चिसो कोठामा अनसनका पन्ध्रौँ दिन बिताउँदै गर्दा  डा. के.सी. बिस्तारै एक्लिँदै गएको आभाष धेरैलाई भएको छ ।

एक्काइसौं शताब्दीको समाज मिडियाको आँखाबाट आँफु र आफ्नो परीवेशलाई हेर्छ । बदलिँदै गएको प्रबिधीसँगै हाम्रो स्वभाव फेरिँदै जानु कुनै अनौठो कुरा पनि भएन । १४० क्यारेक्टरको ट्वीट, १६० क्यारेक्टरको एस.एम.एस., मिनेट-मिनेटमा सोसल मिडियामा अपडेट हुने न्युज-लिङ्क र घण्टा-घण्टामा फेरिने ब्रेकिङग न्युजका दृश्यहरुमा अभ्यस्त भएको हाम्रो पुस्तामा कुनै पनि कुराप्रती निरन्तरता र धैर्यताको अभाव एउटा स्वभाविक प्रब्रित्ती बनेर आएको छ । त्यसमाथी साना-ठुला प्रिन्ट र अनलाइन मिडिया यती धेरै छन कि कुनै पनि बिषयप्रती आफ्नो जे धारणा छ त्योसँग ठ्याक्कै मिल्ने समाचार र टिप्पणी मात्र हेरेर आफुलाई सही साबित गर्ने सुबिधा पनि सजिलै उपलब्ध छ । त्यसै गरी मिडिया गृहहरुलाई पनि देश भित्र र बाहिरका अनेक थरी प्रतिस्पर्धीहरु बिच आफ्नो “हिट काउन्ट” बढाउनै पर्ने चरम दबाब छ किनकी कुनै पनि मिडियाको अस्तित्व र बजार मोटामोटी यसैले निर्धारणा गर्छ । त्यसमाथी, समाचारको सामान्य चक्र (न्युज साइकल) पछ्याउने मिडियाको परिधीमा बर्षौँ लगाएर दशौं चरणमा पुगेको आन्दोलनको कथा संभवत सजिलोसँग फिट हुँदैन । र, त्यसपछि संभाव्य एउटै मात्र कुरा हुन्छ: जती नै महत्त्वपूर्ण किन नहोस्, त्यस्तो समाचारको बेवास्ता । पछिल्लो समय डा. के.सी.को सत्याग्रहप्रती आम नागरिकको मात्र नभएर मिडियाको पनि उदासिनताले शायद यही कुरा पुष्टी गर्छ ।

तर डा. के.सी.को सत्याग्रह धेरै हिसाबले हाम्रो समाजका लागि एउटा प्रतिनिधि घटना हो । एकजना निष्ठावान व्यक्तीले कुनै राजनैतीक दल वा पदको आड बिना पनि परिवर्तनका लागि कत्रो लहर सिर्जना गर्न सक्दो रहेछ भनेर प्रमाणित गर्न सक्नु यसको अत्यन्त सकारात्मक पाटो हो । तर, नौ पटक ‘सफल’ अनसन बसेर पनि आफुले उठाएका मुद्दा जहाँ को तहीँ रहनु र सम्झौता भएका कुराहरु कार्यान्वयन गराउन हरेक पटक पहिल भन्दा झन धेरै जटिलता सिर्जना हुनु भ्रष्टाचारको जरो कती गहिरो, बलियो र व्यापक छ भन्ने कुराको ज्वलन्त उदाहरण पनि हो ।

तपाईंलाई डा. के.सी. फेरी अनसन बसेको समाचार पढ्नमा कुनै रुची छ ? छैन, मलाई थाहा छ । तर, हाम्रो मेडिकल शिक्षा र हाम्रो समग्र स्वास्थ्य क्षेत्र सुध्रियोस भन्ने चाहना छ ? अझ, डा. के.सी. जस्ता ब्यक्तीहरु अरु क्षेत्रमा पनि निस्किउन, अरु क्षेत्र पनि सुध्रिउन भन्ने कामना छ ? अबश्य छ । त्यसैले पनि डा. के.सी.को आन्दोलनलाई साथ दिनुको कुनै बिकल्प छैन । यहाँनिर बिर्सन नहुने कुरा के हो भने दशकौँ चलेको भ्रष्टाचारको चक्रलाई तोड्नका लागि डा. के.सी.ले छेडेको आन्दोलनलाई तार्किक निस्कर्षमा पुर्याउन हाम्रो समाचारको प्रब्रित्ती र चक्र तोडिनु पनि उत्तिकै आबश्यक छ । डा. के.सी.ले जिते भने उनले सुधार्न खोजेको क्षेत्र त सुध्रिने नै छ, त्यसको साथ-साथै अरु क्षेत्रहरुमा सुधारका लागि प्रयासरत ब्यक्तीहरुलाई हौसला पनि मिल्नेछ । तर उनी हारे भने उनको आन्दोलनबाट आजसम्म हासिल भएका उपलब्धीहरु शुन्यमा झर्ने त छँदैछन, यसले करोडौँ जनताको हितको बिरुद्दमा मुठ्ठीभर व्यापरीको जित सुनिस्चित पनि गर्ने छ । क्रान्ति बारबार हुँदैन, डा. के.सी. जस्ता मान्छे समय र परिस्थितीको जटिल आवश्यकताले मात्र जन्माउँछ । उनको आन्दोलनबाट अहिलेसम्म जे जती उपलब्धी हासिल भएका छन, तिनका लागि धेरै समय र परिश्रम लागेको छ । तर उत्कर्षमा पुग्न लागेको आन्दोलनले कठिन मोडमा हाम्रो पर्याप्त सहयोग र साथ पाएन भने हालसम्मका उपलब्धीहरु पूर्ण रुपमा निष्प्रभावी बन्न समय लाग्ने छैनन । यो एक्लो लडाईं हारे नै भने पनि डा. के.सी.ले ब्यक्तीगत रुपमा गुमाउने कुरा संभवत: धेरै नहोलान । तर उनको सत्याग्रहका उपलब्धीलाई समयमै संस्थागत गर्न सकिएन भने हामी र हामी पछिको पुस्ताले त्यसको ठुलो मुल्य चुकाउनु पर्ने छ । र, त्यो हाम्रो मेडिकल शिक्षा र स्वास्थ्य क्षेत्रमा मात्र सिमित नभएर समग्र जनकल्याणकारी ब्यबस्थाका बिरुद्दमा मुठ्ठिभर व्यापारीको स्थायी जित बनेर संस्थागत हुनेछ । डा. के.सी. जसका बिरुद्द अहिलेसम्म लडे, तिनीहरु यतिखेर यस्तै परीणाम पर्खेर बसेका छन ।

परिवर्तन सजिलै आउँदैन । त्यसमाथी दशकौँ देखी कुशासनको जालोमा जकडिएको हाम्रो जस्तो समाजमा सडकमा नारा लगाएकै भरमा परिवर्तन आउला र त्यसले आम जनतालाई सुख देला भनेर कसैले सोचेको छ भने उ अझै सपनामै छ । डा. के.सी.को आन्दोलनबाट हामीले सिक्न चाहेमा सिक्न सक्ने एउटै कुरा हो: अडान, निरन्तरता र धैर्यता । तर केही समय यता आएर आम नेपाली मिडियामा डा. के.सी.प्रती देखिएको उदासिनता र अझ सामाजिक संजालमा फाट्ट-फुट्ट अभिव्यक्त हुन थालेको चिडचिडाहटले उनको आन्दोलनबाट हामीले केही पनि सिक्न नसकेको कुरा बिस्तारै प्रस्टिंदै छ । डा. के.सी.को आन्दोलनमा शुरु देखी नै लागेको एउटा सानो तर निष्ठावान र कटिबद्द समुह छ, त्यसले अहिले पनि उनलाई त्यत्तिकै साथ दिएको छ । र, उक्त समुह हामी सबैको साधुवादको पात्र बनेको छ । तर त्यसभन्दा बाहिर रहेको आम जनसमुदायबाट जुन खालको व्यापक साथ र समर्थन उनको आन्दोलनले पाउनु पर्थ्यो, त्यो पाउन नसकेको छर्लङ्गै छ । हामी सबैमा डा. के.सी.मा जस्तो आँट र हिम्मत छैन, उनको जस्तो अडान, एकाग्रता, धैर्यता र निरन्तरता पनि छैन । उनी जस्तै गरी हामी अनसन बस्न पनि सक्दैनौ । तर हाम्रा लागी र हामी पछिको पुस्ताका लागि उनले गरिरहेको निस्वार्थ सत्याग्रहलाई साथ दिन त सक्छौं कि ?

अस्पतालको त्यो सानो  कोठामा आज पन्ध्रौँ दिनसम्म एक्लै सुतिरहेका यी बुढा डाक्टरलाई देख्दा सारा जाडोको याम कुखुराको साँघुरो खोरमा बिताएको त्यो मार्केसको बुढाको झल्को आउँछ । उक्त कथामा त पेलायो र एलिसेन्दाको परिवारको लागि बरदान बनेर आएको त्यो बुढोको ठाउँ “टारान्टुला”ले लिइसकेपछि उ एक दिन चुपचाप क्षितिजमा एक बिन्दु बनेर हराउँछ । के हामी पनि कृतघ्न बनेर त्यही क्षणको प्रतिक्षा गरिरहेका छौं ?

– प्रकाश सुबेदी (मंसिर १३, २०७३ )


Six Strings Launch and Discussion in Media

THT July 24_THT Aug 14_Kantipur Aug 15_KPost Aug 14

नासीर अहमद नसिरका कविताहरु

कविताको अनुवाद झण्डै असम्भव काम लाग्छ मलाई । त्यसमाथी स्रोत भाषाबाट सिधै नभइ दोस्रो भाषामा गरिएको अनुवादबाट कविताको अर्को अनुवाद गर्दाको नतिजा प्लेटोले भने झैँ  ‘यथार्थ भन्दा दुई गुणा पर’ (twice removed from reality) नहोला भन्न सकिन्न । पहिलो चरणमा उर्दुबाट अङ्ग्रेजीमा अनुवाद भएका यी कवितालाई अङ्ग्रेजीबाट नेपालीमा अनुवाद गर्दा कती ठाउँँमा कविताको सिलसिला टुट्यो होला अनी कती ठाउँँमा अर्थ हरायो होला, मलाई थाहा छैन । तैपनि प्रसिद्द पाकिस्तानी कवि नासीर अहमद नसिरका सुन्दर कविताका केही झिल्का यसमा कताकती आएछन भने मात्र पनि मेरो प्रयास ब्यर्थ जाने छैन भन्ने विश्वासका साथ यो अनुवाद तपाईंँहरुसँग ‘शेयर’ गर्दैछु ।  यो अनुवाद “शान्तीका लागि दक्षिण एसियाली कविता उत्सव २०१३” (South Asian Poetry Festival for Peace 2013)  मा वाचन /प्रकाशनका लागि गरिएको हो । 

( Poems by Naseer Ahmad Nasir, Translated from Urdo into English by Dr. Bina Biswas, translated from English into Nepali by Prakash Subedi)



१. सिमाङ्कन

हुरी र बर्षा बोकेर
उनिहरू हामीलाई भेट्न आउँछन
ढोका छेउमा
उनिहरूका खासखुस सुनिन्छन;
खाली बरण्डा
तिनका शरीरका बास्ना
र, लुगाका सरसराहटले भरिन्छन;
पर्खालहरू नाघ्दै,
छाना र बलेंसीहरूमा चिप्लँदै
बादलको छायाँसरी
सुस्त पदचापमा हिँड्छन उनिहरू;
आधा छापिएका चोकको निशब्दतामा
आँखाले उनिहरूलाई
पहुँचभन्दा टाढाको अनन्त दुरीतर्फ
गैरहेको देख्छन ।

अल्छि मानेर हाइ गरिरहे झैं लाग्ने झ्यालहरू
सोचमग्न छन —
यो भुमिलाई पराजित गरेर, र यसको छातीमा टेकी ,
यी हिमालहरू सगर्व आकाशतर्फ हेर्छन
त्यसभन्दा पर एउटा ताल होला,
अनी होलान चराहरू र सेता बादल, र
झुम्म परेका रुख
र खस्रो चौर;
भेडाका बथान, एक्ला गोठाला;
टाढा–टाढा भागीरहेका गोरेटा; र
र कुनै देशमा
कुनै गाउँ र कुनै शहर हुनुपर्छ
जहाँ म जस्तै कवी
कविता लेख्छ ।

सिमाङ्कन कागजमा सजिलो हुन्छ –
केही चिन्ह र धर्का,
टाकुरा, नदि, खोला, भिराला जमिन
चरन, साना वस्ति, क्षेत्राधिकार, बजारहरू
खोँच र अज्ञात गल्ली;
अझ हतियारले सुसज्जित लामबद्ध सिपाही भएका
किल्लाहरू पनि कोर्न सकिन्छ;
तर पर्खाललाई अवज्ञा गर्दै
छायाँहरू ढोका, झ्याल र आँगनतर्फ लम्बिन्छन
अनी, हृदयका सुदुर कन्दरालाई शुन्यताले स्पर्श गर्छन्
र, नक्सामाथी
सुर्य र बर्षाले आफ्नो रङ परिवर्तन गर्छन् !


२. जीवन भन्दा रात लामो छ

हो ! यो नै सत्य हो !
माटोबाट टुसाएर आकाशमा झाँगिएको फसल
यही नै हो –
त्यसबेला हामी धेरै टाढा हिँडेका थियौं, र
अबेरसम्म जागै बसेका थियौं ;
अनी, हामी बिच प्रश्नोत्तरको अनन्त शृङ्खला चलेको थियो,
र, थियो लामो दुरी ।
जब हाम्रा आत्माले उडान सिके
त्यतिबेलै सबै प्रष्ट भयो –
हामीलाई एउटा अन्तहिन बाटो देखाइयो
जसको कुनै सुरुवात नै थिएन !
र, तिमीलाई त थाहै छैन
रात यो पृथ्वीमा जीवनभन्दा प्राचिन हो भनेर ;
र, तिम्रो हराभरा यौेवनले
न मेरो भोक मेट्न सक्छ
न मलाई आफ्नो चमकले
बाँध्न सक्छ
तिमी नजिक आयौ र मलाई बोलायौ
तर म केवल मौन मात्र रहन सकें
किनकी मेरो मौनता नै मेरो सुरक्षा थियो ।
अन्न भित्र्याउनेहरूका शिर र हात
धुलो–पिठो पार्नेहरूलाई
कलम र कुचीको कलाको मुल्य के थाहा
हिलेबाटो बन्नुभन्दा पहिलेनै
दाउराको भारी बोक्दै गर्दा,
वस्तुभाउ खेद्दै गर्दा
रङहरूको बलीका लागि तिर्खाएको थियो त्यो
जहाँ ज्ञान एक्लो बन्छ
एक्लो र असुरक्षित . . .
बेला बखत म जोतिएर जमिनभित्र रोपिएको छु
र भित्र्याइएको छु फसलझैं ।
म जमिनको बिज हुँ
ब्रह्माण्डको सार–तत्त्व
तिम्रो आवाजले मलाई अंकुरित हुन विश्वास दिलाउने थियो
र, एक दिन हामीले नदिहरू पार गर्ने थियौँ
अनी पुग्ने थियौँ त्यहाँ
जहाँ न कुनै बाटो छ न कोही यात्री
न बिहानी छ न त साँझ नै
केवल एक अद्वितिय कुहिरो
र, हिमाली रात
जसको अन्तमा
(र, रातको अन्त कहाँ हुन्छ !)
समयको छाना भएको माटोको भित्तो
र धेरै माइल पर
अनगिन्ती बाटाहरू
एउटा सडकमा गएर मिल्छन
लामो र अन्तहिन सडक
हामी हिंडेर बनाएका सडक
र हामीले रोपेका रुख
हामी बिर्सन सकौँला र ?


३. प्रकाश स्तम्भ

भन मलाई,
मेरो आँखामा अनिंदो बसिरहेको, ए शीत,
कुन युगको कुन निद्राले तिमीलाई घेरेको छ !
पिडाको कुनै देशमा
भगवान आँसुको बर्षा गरिरहेको छ
उनको परेलिमा
एक थोपा मोती किन अल्झेको छ ?

भन मलाई, ए समुद्र किनारको पवन !
द्रविभुत यात्राको क्रममा
प्रेमलाई एक द्वीप,
अनी शोकलाई त्यहाँसम्म पुग्ने नौका भन्ने उनी
कुन शहरमा खोज्दै होलिन मलाई !

बताउ मलाई, ए मेरो मुक्तीको पवित्र नाम
मैले बिदाइको रीत पुर गर्नेछु
र भेट्नेछु उनलाई ढुङगे स्तम्भहरूको लामो पङ्क्तीबीच
र, उनलाई आफ्नो अङगालोमा लिएर
शुरु गर्नेछु महायात्रा
फगत एक चुम्बनका लागि ।

भन मलाई, ए प्रकाशको प्रतिक !
पानीमा डुबेका
यी शिखरबिहिन चट्टान
बितेका शताब्दीका अमुर्तता हुन,
वा हुन अनन्तको साँधमा ढलेका
दन्त्य कथामा डुंगा खियाइरहने
दासहरूका चित्कारका
आकारहिन मुर्ती ?

बताउ मलाई, समयको सुदुर सिमासम्म उड्ने
ए जादुको चरा !
मलाई भन, उनी कहाँ छिन
जसलाई सम्झेर
हराइरहेका प्राचिन स्वर
मेरो हृदयमा केन्द्रित हुन्छन !
मलाई बताउ, ए धर्तीका तारा
किन यात्रीहरू तिम्रै सपना देख्छन ?


४. पानीमा हराएका सपना

सपना र चाहनाको बिचमा
कुनै दुरी छैन
पानी र आँखामा देखिने प्रतिबिम्बको बिचमा
कुनै ऐना छैन ।
पिडाको त्रिभुजभित्र
बिचारका धर्काहरूले बनाएका आकारमा
कुनै झुकाव छैन ।
अनगिन्ती मानवजातीले
देखेका सपना उस्तै छन
तर निद्रा र रातका पहरा
उस्तै छैनन् । (more…)


DSC_4240.jpgMy name is Prakash Subedi.

I am a Nepali poet/writer.

My first book of poems, Stars and Fireflies, was published in 2009, and my second book, Six Stringsa joint anthology of poems with five other friends of mine, came out in 2011.

My other publications include Ibsen: Beyond Time and Space and Ibsen: Samaya ra sandarbha, both co-edited casebooks on Henrik Ibsen. My poems, essays and other writings have been published in journals and magazines in Nepal and abroad, including Of Nepalese Clay, Devkota Studies, Literary Studies, Bodhi, IMAP ReaderNepathyaPuspanjali, Mirmire, BaijayantiECS, Nepali Kala SaahityaThe Kathmandu Post, Republica, The Independent (Bangladesh), and Daily News (Srilanka), among others.

I have been involved with a number of literary organizations in Nepal for more than a decade. I have worked as the General Secretary of Society of Nepali Writers in English (NWEN), Director of Asian Center for Humanities (ACH), Executive Member of PANAsia Creativity, and a Member of Literary Association of Nepal (LAN) and Devkota Study and Research Center (DSRC). I have served as an editor-in-chief for the journals Devkota Studies (published by DSRC) and Literary Studies (published by LAN), and as an editor for Of Nepalese Clay, a half-yearly English literary magazine (published by NWEN), twenty-three issues of which have been published so far.

Starting with the establishment of Gurukul theatre in 2002, I have also closely worked with Nepali theatre as a writer, translator, editor, and promoter.



I completed my MA in English from Tribhuvan University and MPhil in English from Pokhara University, and I have worked as a Lecturer in English at the Central Department of English (Tribhuvan University), Institute of Advanced Communication, Education and Research (Pokhara University), Dillibazar Kanya Multiple Campus (Tribhuvan University), and School of Arts (Kathmandu University), teaching courses in literature, language, philosophy, and religion. Currently, I am working on my PhD in Literary and Cultural Studies at Monash University, Australia.



Hans-Georg Bulla: My impressions on “Stars and Fireflies”

– Dr. Hans-Georg

2014-10-07_Hans_Georg_Bulla_liest_in_der_Marktkirche_von_Hannover,_(1)Es ist schwierig für mich, Anmerkungen zu den Gedichten von Prakash Subedi zu machen, ohne den kulturell−literarischen Hintergund näher zu kennen. Z.B. kann ich nicht einschätzen, was es bedeutet, dass der Autor sich zu den „Nepali Writers in English“ rechnet − es müsste also noch  eine Literatur in der/den eigenen Sprache/n geben. Wie dem auch sei − ich notiere dennoch einiges, was ich vielleicht auch sonst als Lektor einem Autor schreiben würde.

Als erstes seine kleine Einleitung zu Beginn: ich selbst meine, dass Gedichte „gemacht“ werden und nicht aus „heiterem Himmel“ kommen; man erlebt zwar als Schreibender im Prozess hin und wieder „flashes“ , die man m.E. jedoch in einem dritten oder vierten Überarbeitungsgang möglichst (selbst−)kritisch überprüfen sollte − d.h., auch einige Gedichte des Autors könnten von einer Überarbeitung noch profitieren − wobei ich festhalten möchte, dass er aus meiner Sicht über mehr als nur eine Begabung  verfügt.

final_cover-designFür mich hat der Band auch viele Merkmale eines Debüt−Buches (ich kenne sie aus vielen Skripten, die mir zugeschickt  worden sind): Da gibt es z.B.  typographische Signalisierungen, um das Geschriebene nochmals optisch deutlich zu machen. Manchmal sind diese durchaus nicht ohne Reiz (vgl. S. 3, 36), aber ich selbst rate in der Regel zu Vorsicht beim Einsatz solcher Mittel − die Zeilen müssen überzeugen, nicht die Typographie. Ähnlich die schwarze bzw. weiße Seite (5 bzw. 57)  − dass  dieser Einfall wirklich weit trägt, möchte ich in Frage stellen. Charakteristisch ist auch die häufige Thematisierung des eigenen Gedichts; des eigenen Schreibens; des Ichs; dann die auf eine Pointe abzielende rethorische Struktur mancher Texte; einige Wortspiele usw. Ich bin allerdings sicher, dass sich einige dieser Texte gut und wirkungsvoll vortragen lassen. Es wäre aber auch zu berücksichtigen, wie und wohin sich die lyrischen Schreibweisen ansonsten in diesem Kontext entwickelt haben, welche Traditionen bzw. Avantgarden es gibt.

Es gibt jedoch auch eine ganze Reihe von Gedichten, die sofort und ohne Einschränkung meine Zustimmung finden. Z.B. die drei kleinen, haikuhaften Zeilen auf S. 29 − eine zugespitzte Beobachtung, ohne Aufwand hingesetzt, aber der Assoziationen freisetzenden Mitteilung wert, wie ich finde. Für den Ortsunkundigen ist zwar die Fußnote erforderlich, aber was soll’s. Oder auch S. 10 − die schön gespiegelte Warnung, die nicht so einfach aufgeht, wie es zunächst scheint; ähnlich S. 15 − durchaus ein kleines Denkbild; und S. 37 − das gefällt mir, die Redensarten gegen den Strich zu bürsten, kurz und knapp die Gegenbeobachtung festzuhalten, mit dieser Frage zu enden.

Oder S. 52 und S. 53 − in diesen Zeilen, Strophen kann man den Lyriker wirklich erkennen: sinnliche, anschauliche Beobachtungen (die aber nicht bei der Beschreibung bleiben), präzis verknappt. Bei „The moment“ vielleicht etwas zu deutlich in der Schlußfrage resümiert, aber durch die Bilder vorher aufgehoben.

Ich glaube, „Firefly“ ist mir das liebste aus dem Band, weit mehr als nur ein Gelegenheitsgedicht, das anhand einer kleinen Begegnung etwas auszusagen vermag − auch über den Autor, seine Sensibilität, seine sprachlichen Gestaltungsmöglichkeiten. Ich vermute, das stand in dieser Form nicht sofort auf dem Papier! Es hat auch diesen narrativen Ton, der für mich viele englische Gedichte kennzeichnet.

Müsste ich drei Texte für eine Anthologie auswählen, gehörte dieses Gedicht als erstes dazu, dann das Karawanengedicht und die Tempel−Affen.

Müssig zu sagen, das ich vom Autor mehr solche Gedichte lesen möchte − vielleicht kannst Du mir auch seinen nächsten Band zur Lektüre zukommen lassen.

Müssig zu sagen, das ich vom Autor mehr solche Gedichte lesen möchte…

(Oktober 2012)


It is difficult for me to comment on the poems of Prakash Subedi, without knowing the cultural and literary background you closer. For example, I can not judge what it means that the author pays to the “Nepali Writers in English” – so it takes even a literature in the / give the own language / s. Anyway – I still write down some things I might otherwise write as an editor to an author.

First his little introduction at the beginning: I myself think that poems are “made” and not from “blue”; while you experience as a writer back in the process and again “flashes” that one M.E. However, in a third or fourth revision transition possible (self-) should critically review – that is, some poems the author could benefit from a revision yet – and I would like to state that it has, in my view more than just a talent.

For me, the band also has many features of a debut book (I know it from many scripts that have been sent to me): Since there is as Typographical signaling to make the writing again optically clear. Sometimes these by no means without charm (see page 3, 36.), But I even rate usually caution in the use of such funds – the lines have to convince, not the typography. Similarly, the black or white side (5 and 57) – that this incident carries really well, I would like to question. Another characteristic is the frequent theming of own poem; of their own writing; the ego; then aimed at a Pointe rhetorical structure of some texts; some word games, etc. However, I am sure can be some of the texts well and effectively present. But it would also take into account how and where the lyrical realizations have otherwise developed in this context, what traditions and vanguards there.

However, there are also quite a number of poems, to which I subscribe immediately and without restriction. For example, the three small, haiku offending lines on page 29 – a pointed observation, sat down without effort, but the associations worth releasing message, I think. Although the footnote is required to Localunaquainted, but what the heck. Or S. 10 – the beautiful mirrored warning that not so simple rises, as it first appears; similar p.15 – quite a small mental image; and S. 37 – I like to brush the phrases against the grain, succinctly capture the counter observation, to end with this question.
Or S. 52 and S. 53 – in these lines, stanzas can the poet really recognize: sensual, vivid observations (but not stay in the description), precisely scarce. In “The moment” perhaps something much sums up to the final question, but repealed by the images before.

I believe “Firefly” is my favorite out of the band, much more than just an occasional poem, which is able to say something using a small meeting – also about the author, his sensibility, his linguistic design possibilities. I suppose that was in this form is not immediately on the paper! It also has this narrative tone, featuring many English poems for me.

If I had three texts for an anthology choose this poem was the first to be the caravan poem and the temple monkeys.

Müssig to say that I would like to read more such poems by the author…

(October 2012)

(Translated by Google Translate)


  •   Dr. Bulla is a German poet, lecturer, and editor.


Poems of Innovations, Anxieties and Aspirations: A Survey of Six Strings


Six Strings, a joint anthology of poems by a group of six young Nepali poets contains 60 poems of varying styles, themes, and length. This collection unveils new experiments in technique and style. The poets have attempted to raise an array of issues of topical as well as universal significance, accounting for a welter of transformations being witnessed everyday everywhere. Rendered in simple but lucid dictions, the poems have drawn upon disparate quotidian and philosophical topics. In expressing their poetic exuberance, some of the poets have amply shown the influence of foreign form in their poems without, however, sacrificing native flavor. The influence has revealed unique and bold innovations as in the case of “The Poem,” “The River,” “The Gap” and “Two balls of thread”. This form-content poetic seesaw seems to promise a new trend in Nepali literature in English.

This paper presents a brief critical overview of Six Strings highlighting poets’ response to and their worldview on the issues they have reflected upon.  It draws upon the commentaries and analyses of Padma Prasad Devkota and Mahesh Paudyal. Devkota and Paudyal have analyzed only selected poems; this paper, however, makes a critical observation of the entire anthology and also attempts to highlight the possibility of new interpretations and analyses.

Bal Bahadur Thapa’s poetic observation explores different dimensions of life. “My City”, Thapa’s first poem, paints a bleak picture of a city, evoking dreadful images: “the veil of the fog,” “the smoke of the city,” “smells cancerous” and “the soul warping” (4). The poem evinces a tone of premonition and foreboding. His second poem “A Stranger” reflects on the conflict between illusion and reality with the conclusion that separation is a natural phenomenon.  The speaker has long lived in “pretense of oneness” which is now “upset” (8). In “The Discovery”, the poet renews his perception of the self, through a powerful action of smashing of “a big mirror” (21). This poem follows the passage of a person whose identity is shattered “into bits and pieces” (21), revealing the fact that identity is always inconsistent, unstable and ungraspable. The issue of identity perhaps leads the poet to reflect upon the enigmatic and intriguing relationship between life and death in “Apocalypse”. The poem reveals this enigma when the death of a mother gives way to “the birth of four strong boys” (26).

The transition from the philosophical concern of life, identity and self to the diurnal issue confronting us everywhere is evident in Thapa’s next poem “An Overnight Star”. It captures the overweening ambition of the present day youths who “chase a dream/ a dream to be an overnight star” (27). In this poem, the poet seems to be suggesting that one should choose a career in life according to one’s aptitude and skill. Couched in a wry tone, “Kathmandu, I Love you” brushes a seamy side of urban living.  The poet here blends anonymity, poverty, alienation and plight together to show an entangled and confused existence in Kathmandu. “Rain” shows the confluence of rain and earth through a vibrant sexual imagery. The poem is evocative of the theme of regeneration and growth as against desiccation and sterility. Poet’s idea that commercialism has reduced human beings to a mere automaton is best expressed in “My Best Opium”. This poem follows a pathetic story of the contemporary youths who are dehumanized by commercial world.  Fed up with “endless rat race” (56), the fatigued youth in the poem desperately needs his “best opium” to end his “endless burden” (56). “Holi” presents the poet as a social critic. He is deeply anguished by the cultural distortions that have erupted violently in the contemporary society in the name of festivals. Bulls going berserk “know no decency” and are devoid of any sense of “courtesy” (65). They symbolize terror and anarchy. “The Obscure Object of Desire”, Thapa’s last poem, traces the agony of unfulfilled love. Here, the social barrier symbolized by “a thin glass wall” (66) thwarts the union of two beings.

If Bal Bahadur Thapa has succeeded in blending the philosophical questions of human existence with the concern of everyday activities, Hem Raj Kafle is equally accomplished in dealing with his personal worries and political anomalies.

The poet Kafle visualizes the present world as a place of myriad experiences. The first poem of the anthology and that of Kafle is “My Fear”. It projects that the bonds of human relationships are extremely shaky, vulnerable and tenuous, like “the river that changes its course/ Or splits into two streams” (1). The poet being apprehensive of such unpredictable and fleeting nature of human relationship seems to be in haste to consummate the present intensely. His next poem “Just or unjust” unmasks the way human beings employ deception and fallacies to rationalize their course of action. Will the poet’s chiding such errant come of age?  In “The burden” the poet is heavily weighed down by the elusive nature of peace (Devkota, “reading-half-of-six-strings”). “My neighbor”, one of the most memorable poems in the anthology, picks up a typical commonplace spectacle: a befuddled drunkard with a serious mission to “smash the world” “gun me,” and “bomb my abode” (22). However, the poet’s mission is even more serious: “to forgive him” (23). Poet’s redemptive act of forgiveness is reminiscent of Christ’s forgiveness to his own betrayer. In an epiphany, the poet here discovers his own virtuous self. Another of Kafle’s poems, “On Martyrdom” reveals a sensitive person in the poet. It deals with a solemn issue of unselfish sacrifice and the dignity of martyrdom. However, the betrayal of a well-intentioned sacrifice made by martyrs—“Mercilessly redefined”– (24) dismays the poet. In “Co-travellers”, the poet sketches, in a slightly hilarious tone, some nasty and bitter experiences of life. It highlights the volatile, sinister and self-centered nature of human beings.

The agenda of rights and social awareness finds voice in Kafle’s short but subtle poem titled “Woman’s Day”. In this poem the poet grimaces at the absurdity between what is so laudably professed and what the actual reality is. The poet perhaps wishes to appeal to humanitarian activists of women emancipation and empowerment to be practical and realistic in their approach to women’s problems.  “On the Pile of Papers” beautifully captures a dilemma in which a time-conscious professional is terribly cleft in a conflict between fulfilling his filial responsibility and the terror of institutional deadlines. “[U]ncertain” and “confused”, the poet is caught unawares by his “toddler” when he fails to satisfy his curiosity of what he has been doing with “the pile” (53). In his attempt to expose the pretense of the world, he himself is trapped in self-deception. The poet has expressed his resentment and scathing criticism over the abysmal political scenario in “Street Theatre”. Here, the poet directs his rage at the unthinking and unscrupulous “gangsters,” “players,” and “actors” who have terrorized, brutalized, and devastated “country’s destiny”. Through a dreadful image of a giant beast swallowing a doe, the poet shows how people are at the mercy of these irrational and whimsical “pythons” (57). “The City breeds” takes readers through seemingly insignificant urban activities during festive occasions to ruminate on a serious issue. By placing “democrats” beside “[d]irt” and “dearth” (58), the poet’s impression and that of general people towards democrats as filthier than dirt becomes obvious.

More reclusive and introspective than any other poets in the anthology, Keshab Sigdel, however, adroitly elevates a seemingly ordinary event to a philosophical height.

Sigdel considers search, intrigues and change as the major themes of his poems.  His disillusionment with the present state of affairs and inability to reconcile himself with his future forms the base of his poem titled “To Myself”. Much water has flown in the river, indicated by the word “That”, since he first cast his vote out of his own accord. Now he feels his freedom threatened as “everybody speaks with threat” (2). His next poem “Identity” reveals his desperate struggle to discover his own identity.  His search begins with linguistic medium in “12 letters,” “BLOCK LETTERS” , mechanical medium in “Times Roman, Font Size 12” and official documents “1/147 and 2492318”. But the search turns into “a farce” (10). The poet’s any one attempt to define his identity only imprisons him into yet another definitional trap before he finally realizes the futility of his identity search.  “The Chess Game” reveals a subtle psychological relationship between two opponents at a chess board, each trying a smart move to outsmart the other opponent. Suddenly, he realizes that he is “A mere dice in flesh and blood” (19) being constantly maneuvered by some other players. In “My buddha-in-becoming” the poet takes “a buddha-in-becoming” to wander in an “enlightened” (34) city in search of enlightenment. The poet in “The change” directs his rage first at the “Time” that has engulfed him. Then, he expresses his anguish as his “scary” (35) reality. Man relishes in foisting submission on the weak, which is the theme of “Gratification”. This poem allows us a peep into a strange human psychology.  In the poem, it is actually the speaker who is “in gratification” because he has produced a life-long obeisance from the dog with a “piece of bone” (39).

In “Wonders of a leaf” Sigdel shows a leaf being engrossed in an amorous dream. On realizing that it was overwhelmed and consumed by the parasitic behavior of a caterpillar, the leaf is suddenly beset with a doubt:   “a mystic of life” (49). In a self-questioning tone, the leaf after being an active participant in the process of transformation (the caterpillar was transformed into a butterfly) wonders “if the butterfly is my love” (49). Political issues function as a recurring motif in this anthology. In line with this, “Metamorphosis” recounts the story of the manipulation of the common people by “a group of artists” who are entrusted with a responsibility of transforming “an Unreal City” into “a Real City” (50). The promised city never came into being. However, the common people, including the poet himself, continues to hope against hope until they accepted their “own defacement” and witnessed their own “metamorphosis” (51). Relating the theme of betrayal, the poet in “Will Power” constantly plays on the meaning of the word “change” to lend a witty and ironical twist to the last line of the poem. On being asked the possibility of their change, one of the leaders becomes confused and replies “We haven’t decided yet”. It pokes fun at the much-hyped rhetoric of “New Nepal” (59) used as a political spin by the so-called political leaders to hoodwink common people. Finally, poet’s last poem “Reward” sums up a 20-year career of a lady typist in a good-natured humor.

Iconoclast and inventive in his own way in the context of Nepali English writing, Prakash Subedi is seriously engaged in blending the form with meaning.

Subedi is always prepared to conjure something out of a very ordinary situation.  In “Goats”, his vision, inspired by the severed head of a goat and live goats munching “a few strands of straw/under the table” (3), transcends “the butcher’s dirty wooden table” (3) to reflect very broadly upon the transient nature of life. Illustrative of bold experiment, “The Poem” represents an appeal to use simple but connotative dictions for poetic or artistic creation. A verbose style only suppresses and obscures the meaning of a literary work.  In its use of conceit—“two big drop of tears” creating an ocean, the poem “Barrier” is reminiscent of the Metaphysical poetry of English literature.  Emotions always hinder progress. “Two big drops of tears” have “created an ocean” for the poet. Now the poet’s earlier determination “to cross the Mighty Koshi” (17) takes no time to shake.  Should a determined man like our poet be held back by sentimentalism?  As an audience watching an artistic performance, the poet stumbles upon a riddle: which one is true, life or art? The stage is synonymous with life and vice versa, as Padma Prasad Devkota understands (“At the theatre”), (Devkota, “reading-half-of-six-strings”).

The shorter the subtler! The case in point is “Time”. This poem claims the dream as being “longer than the night”. If dream here refers to vision, then it can be inferred that the poet wishes to celebrate “the permanence of vision in the infinite gyre of the space-time continuum” (Paudyal “poetry-in-strings”). Big changes in the world have emanated from the dreams “longer than the night” (33). “Two balls of thread” allegorizes an event through the imagery of two balls of thread. When the two boys “fell into a deep dry well” (38) they each found a ball of thread. One wove his share of thread into a rope and climbed out; the other got entangled and snared in his. In the journey of life, some utilize an opportunity at hand to their advantage, while others fail to do so. “The State” refers to a deplorable political situation. Great political figures “tall men” with genuine vision and commitment “chose to leave the state”.  The state has faced an acute dearth of honest political leadership and is “ruled by the dwarfs” (47). The political theme of “The State” can also be found in “Unity”. This poem aptly captures the contemporary political hide -seek game of Nepal. Selfishness, treachery, and vested personal interest have made it difficult to grasp and establish unity in the country. In “Gods” the poet finds gods callous and indifferent. Rather than relieving his afflictions and mopping his “torrential tears”, gods laugh “at the top [their] voice” (67), the poet complains. So, the poet is deeply despaired.  A poet emerges out of self-sacrifice, whereby he establishes his immutable ties with such cosmic elements as “the winds,” “the clouds,” “the mountains,” “the flowers,” “the stars,” “moon,” “the sun,” and “people” (68) (“Poet”).

Unlike her preceding counterparts—Thapa, Kafle, Sigdel and Subedi—Sarita Bhattarai has explored and dealt with the issues related with women, domesticity, environment and so forth.

Bhattarai’s first poem “Transformations” exposes a gruesome story of violence being administered in “daily dosage” to a woman. Her account of the portrayal of “torture and abuse” (5) meted out to the woman in question is very moving. Sometimes, an ordinary action turns out be a moment of epiphany (“Spectacle”). Wonderstruck at the sight of a beast, the poet is suddenly led to reflect upon the unparalleled craftsmanship of nature, and “marveled / At the beautiful ugly creature/ And nature’s genius” (13). Constructive conflict leads to common prosperity and positive results. In “Kitchen garden” the muttering and grumbling couple, though found wrangling in the kitchen garden, are actually involved in the cosmic act of procreation. In “Pathways” the poet has used “walking” (30) as a controlling motif in the poem, relating it to her loneliness.  “A Plea” is one of the poems in the anthology which makes a veiled reference to impending ecological upheavals due to befall humankind. If a mighty star like sun is “sick” or “annoyed”, the sickness is likely to play havoc with “The land,” “The being,” “Animals,” “lakes,” and “humans”. The poet on behalf of the entire chain of being implores the annoyed sun to “scatter its warm rays” and respond to the “Hopeful eyes” (31). To trespass is to incur dispute and antagonism. In “At play” the baby and the dog are well aware of this fact. When will the so-called grown up conscious adult learn this humility and create a harmonious place for a peaceful living? This question worries the poet.

Environmental concern reemerges in “The K Valley” as in “A Plea”.  By mystifying the familiar geographical place Kathmandu (K in the title instead of Kathmandu), the poet lends a tone of some eeriness to the poem. Personified as an old woman, the valley is afflicted with some serious medical conditions: “Her food pipe clogged with sewage/ And windpipe chocked with fumes”.  She buckles because of the overload of “innumerable selfish offspring” (45). This situation does not auger good for the environmentally threatened citizen of the K valley.  In “The red”, the poet observes that red color is pervasive and inescapable. She seems to project red as a color of violence as she describes it as “Fiery and furious red/ Dangerous, murderous Red” (46). Women are the victim of this violence.  “Silence” is one of the most outspoken poems in this anthology. The four stanzas of the poem are enclosed by the word “silence”. This seems that silence exists as an overpowering element, engulfing all external sounds. Ironically, silence has profusely inspired the poet in articulating her “lonely but painfully true” (61) story.  “Ladybird army” is the last poem of Sarita Bhattarai. The poem moves from a simple description of overwhelming swarms of ladybird, causing havoc everywhere, to contemplate how the three-fold motion– My motion/Their motion and non-motion (62)—became “their death trap”.

The poems of Saraswati Lamichhane, the last poet of Six Strings, echo those of Bhattarai and Subedi in terms of theme and experimentation.  Besides,  Lamichhane chooses to deal with the power of poetic expression, change, attitude and some of the harsh realities of femininity.

In her first poem titled “Poems”, the poet subtly emphasizes the idea that poetry is a strong and infallible form of communication among human beings. So, she reasons, “I decided to remain/silent” (6). Her next poem “Change” denotes that people’s perception undergoes a sea change as they come across a new environment or circumstance. Change is a matter of attitude and perception.  “Shift”, dealing with the theme of love, expresses poet’s confusion between dream and reality. Being uncertain, the poet asks, “which one is true!” (16). Remarkable in topographical features along with imageries, “The river” follows the incessant flow of a river to illustrate challenges, changes, expectations and disillusionment in life. Another poem, “The view” advocates developing and cultivating objective perception that provides a true view of the world. Criticizing the tendency of perceiving the world on borrowed view, the poet emphasizes the need to acquire one’s own point of view –true “glasses” (29)—which remain intact and reliable for good. One of the most experimental poems in this collection is “The Gap”. The poet here seems to attempt to erode the gap that separates mother from daughter. A daughter cherishes a “deep-seated realization of a mother, who bears an inevitable destiny of becoming a mother” (Paudyal “poetry-in-strings). In terms of typographical feature, this poem resembles those of e.e. cummnings’–“a poet of imaginative typographical experiment” (Ruland and Bradbury 275).

Artistic creation results from a continuous struggle between the creator and what he creates. Art is always elusive, so ideas “melt, run, and evaporate…” (43), the poet Lamichhane admits.  A sense of guilt besets her for imprisoning ideas on her “cold dry paper” (43). However, her “Ideas” will take on a new lease of life when they renew “the fight” (43) with thousands of readers ahead. This should redeem the poet of her sense of self-guilt (“I am writing a poem”). Next, the poem “Hills” is a meticulous observation of the changes that have occurred in the environment. The green quiet habitats that have sheltered “Leopards” and “Antelopes” have been changed into “Brown/ Crowded Resorts” (44). Another poem, “Women-in-red” encapsulates how women are perceived by the society as they enter into different phases of Red—“The First Red, The Second Red, The Third Red…” . Right from their first biological transformation (their initiation into puberty), women are constantly subjected to strict social scrutiny. They are classified, “treated,” “examined,” and “taught” (63) in a certain way. This social ritual is enacted time and again throughout a woman’s life. The last poem of Saraswati Lamichhane is “The Woods and the city”. The charming “cold-green-darkness…” of “the woods” wherein the poet longs to “trek,” “get lost,” “jump,” “sing,” and “dance” is too fascinating a place for the poet to resist. However, she has to abandon this idyllic place and is compelled to return to face “the hot-grey-city…” (64). The contrast between her longing and reality renders the poet’s situation miserable and poignant.

The observation in the paragraphs above shows that the poets of this anthology have dealt with the issues of human relations, identity, politics as well as ecology that have continued to haunt us in the contemporary world. Their attempt to present these issues in a new poetic form is indeed a trailblazing contribution to Nepali literature in English.

For raising various contemporary problems in the poems, the present anthology deserves readings from new perspectives. For their visual effectiveness, the poems of Prakash Subedi and Saraswati Lamichhane can be compared and contrasted with those of e.e.cummings’. Hem Raj Kafle and Bal Bahadur Thapa’s politico-social and cultural consciousness can be studied from cultural perspective. The unique observation of Keshab Sigdel may be a concern for those interested in, religion and politics. Feministic readings may enhance and expand the recurring feministic voices in the poems of Sarita Bhattarai and Saraswati Lamichhane. Likewise, a good number of poems are readily amenable to eco-critical reading.

Works Cited

Devkota, Padma. http://padmadevkota.blogspot.com/2011/11/07reading-half-of-six-strings.html

Paudyal, Mahesh. http://stats.kkk.com.np/the-kathmandu-ost/2011/09/30/related_articles/poetry-in-strings/226885.html

Ruland, Richard and Malcolm Bradbury. From Puritansim to Postmodernism. A History of

American Literature. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Thapa, Bal Bahadur and et.al. Six Strings, a Joint Anthology of Poems. Kathmandu: Society of  Nepali Writers in English, 2011.



Stars and Fireflies: Poetic Journey into Epiphanies of Impermanence


As if out of impulse—

As if in a flash—

            My poem writes me:

                        A few incomprehensible inkblots

                        A few inarticulate idioms

                        A few invisible shades

                        A few mute rhythms

[. . . ]

But when,

Every time,

I find the modest man

Figuring out unerringly

What my poem has written of me

And nodding his head

In faultless comprehension—

                        It gives me a pleasant shock

                        And a reassurance . . . . (“My Poem and My Reader” 34-35)

Although the poet “silently dedicates these lines to [h]is teacher,” he seems to lay his unfaltering faith on the readers” by believing that his poems are able to communicate to them (34). “They actually are unpremeditated flashes that would hit me now and then, and I have simply attempted to record them,” says poet Subedi about his poems collected in Stars and Fireflies in the foreword (iii).

Stars and Fireflies, Prakash Subedi’s first anthology of poems, was published by Society of Nepali Writers in English (NWEN) in the year 2009. It comprises of 49 short but very contemplative pieces that have rich layers of meaning. This anthology has been warmly received by the readers and scholars for its meditative philosophical insights and for taking them through a wide myriad of emotions. Here, the poet has been successful in sweeping the readers into the rigmarole of deep reflective thinking, taking them beyond the reach of his adeptly crafted simple voice. In this regard, Binay Ghimire, in his review of Stars and Fireflies, claims, “Some people write out of vanity, others to entertain, or to enlighten, some even to make money, but most importantly they all write to communicate something. Literature has undergone many changes— earlier it talked about the world of Gods and heroes, now it is the man-made fantasy pop literature that is all rage. But Subedi’s poems are timeless—evocative and enlightening” (7).

Indeed, what Ghimire says is true as Subedi’s poems are able to communicate to the readers. After reading the anthology, one can feel that his poems reflect the elegant understatement of relationships, love, nature, politics, and the power of artistic expression in the everyday language that people use. They are about run of the mill subjects, yet meaningful in every aspect. They are comprehensible and people can relate to what the poet is trying to say. Simple or complex, resolute or oblique, poetry becomes aesthetically pleasing when it is able to evoke a certain kind of visceral tremor in the readers and Stars and Fireflies has successfully done the same.

In terms of style, there is an uncannily striking resemblance to the American poet E.E. Cummings’ imagism and psychological indulgence in treating the first and last poem that is devoid of words. Like Cummings’ poems, Subedi’s poems give a visual effect. The dark and light square boxes respectively named “The first Poem” and “The last Poem” give a visually concrete image of mankind’s journey from darkness to light, from ignorance to wisdom. The series of other poems that twinkle in between perhaps symbolize our growth seeking slender meaning in the chaotic upheaval of life. The poet’s meditative experimentation with the style that breaks the conventional method seems to be immeasurable with these two poems. Again, the visual imagery is very prominent in the poem “Eyes,” in which the poet opens his eyes to ‘look’ at the world and closes them to ‘see’ it.

Though these poems appear to be impulsive flashes, on explicating Stars and Fireflies, the readers find an overlapping mélange of emotions, realization, speculations, and delusion. There are various themes, some of which stand out whereas some are subtle. Like Wordsworth, the poet weaves in themes from the common life and incidents. The poems range from politics, philosophy, romance, religion, war, and the insignificant turmoil of the commoners. While most of poems are somber in tone, the readers cannot disregard the humor and restrained satire. A tone of mockery can’t be ignored in poems like “To the ‘bard’,” in which he makes fun of a bard in this manner:

Turn this iridescent box off, lad!

And, go—

Cuddle in your cozy bed:

            What more

            Will you add after all

            To the glistening granite Herculean heap




                                    And Khayyams? (41)

Here, the poet himself is not exempt from those, who trivially attempt for a creation. Perhaps he is mocking himself, too. After all, what significance could one add over the burning intensity of Shakespeare, Devkota and Khayyam’s exuberant work? The poet also seems to be influenced by the aphoristic magnitude of Nietzsche and Devkota’s existential quest. His fondness for these iconic figures can be observed in the poems “After Reading Nietzsche-1/2,” “Fear,” “To Devkota-1,” “Presence” and “To Devkota-2.”

Despite his obsession with the iconic figures, the poet’s voice, in most of the poems, is that of a common wo(man), disillusioned with the political unrest in a country distraught with civil war, the lives lost, and the tug of war between the political leaders. These concerns of the common wo(man) are expressed in a poignant manner. Subedi makes a profuse use of satire in poems like “Fish,” in which a small fish asks a big fish why they are eaten. In reply, the big fish gulps the small one and gives a belch. “For those who carry guns,” “Flowers,” “The drinking water project,” and “A Commoner” are a few poems that mock the social scenario of present time in Nepal. Subedi’s satire takes a scathingly rebellious stance against politics and our leaders especially in poem like «“Milk and blood.” Presenting the nation as the tigress and the leaders as her cubs, the poet makes a satire on the corrupt political leaders in a metaphorical way: “She resisted but they sucked / She moaned but they sucked / She groaned and whined but they sucked and sucked / She collapsed but they sucked until the last drop of her blood” (“Milk and blood” 30). Here, he uses the metaphor of cubs and tigress to vent out his anger and frustration at our leaders, who have drained our country of resources for fulfilling their self interest. “He seems to have woven his own frustrations into them, thus also revolting against the reigning anarchy and chaos,” Richa Bhattarai echoes the similar idea about Subedi’s poetry in her review entitled “Terse Verse,” published in Republica (p).

In the same manner, Subedi expresses his discontent in the poems like “At the temple” and “Fingers,” in which he subverts the ideologies, values, beliefs, ethnicity, and religion. He writes, “The worshippers were busy throwing the coins, the priests were busy collecting them” (8). Here, the speaker ponders over who is more of a devout, what have we made of our faith in religion. The fingers are symbolic to our distinct nature of being. However, it does not matter which one of us is more important. What is the entire struggle for? Despite having separate identities, we belong to the same hand. Thus, the poet stands for solidarity.

Apart from political satire, the most prominent and dominating themes in majority of the poems in Stars and Fireflies are the transitoriness and meaninglessness of life. Paradoxically, in this very futility, in this very meaninglessness lies the existential quest, meaning of life, the realization. The focus of the present study henceforth is on illuminating the same. In poems like “The Dog and the Caravan” and “the [k]ing,” the poet contemplates over transience. And this very transience brings about the paradigm shift between the center and the margin. Nothing can remain static forever. “The Dog and the Caravan,” for example, highlights the dilemma of this shift where the poet takes an age old proverb, “The dog barks but the caravan passes,” and tries to show the ironical change as illustrated by these lines:


 I saw

The dogs passing,

Glancing occasionally

            At the silent, still caravan—

                                    Were they expected to bark? (37)

Here, the transition is shown by the rejection of the grand narrative. The second stanza juxtaposes the ‘normal’ expectations that the dogs will bark on seeing the caravan pass. This poem appropriates the proverb to question the center v/s margin, and normal v/s abnormal through the perspective of the margin, the dogs. Though “the [k]ing” seems more of a political satire, it is also reflective of the change in the status quo. The poet claims that “a [k]ing is a [k]ing as long as [h]e wears the mask. A [k]ing is a [k]ing as long as people see [h]im in the mask” (20). Here, the mask symbolizes power and identity.

Slowly, it, while fleshing out the transitoriness in Subedi’s poems, dawns on the readers that his poems simmer with wisdom derived from the Buddhist philosophy, and the three marks of existence shared by all sentient beings namely impermanence, suffering and non-self. Nothing ceases to exist, but the state of being undergoes a continuous cycle of change. “Do not encumber your mind with useless thoughts. What good does it do to brood on the past or anticipate the future? Remain in the simplicity of the present moment,” says Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (np). In the same vein, we can notice the state of impermanence of being in these lines:

Dew drops

            Upon the blades of grass

                        Just before the sunrise—

A flock of birds

            Ready to take a long flight

                        After the night’s rest—

A young girl

            About to get her hair parting

                        Smeared with the red vermillion powder—

The cherry buds

            Opening into blossoms

                        As the dawn brightens—

When is life:



                                    Or  after? (“The Moment” 53)

Mankind by nature is intertwined in the perpetual cycle of life and death caught into the past, present and future. The content is simple yet profound. In the above quoted lines, the small details make one contemplate the transition that comes so swiftly giving delight at the moments of epiphany. This impermanence in Buddhism refers to the fact that all conditioned things are in a constant state of flux.

This change is again beautifully expressed in the poem “Time” as cited below:




…w    e…

…a       r        e…

…n        o        t…

…m        a       d       e…

…f        o        r…

            …e       a      c      h…

                        …o    t     h       e      r… (14)

What is more important: the past, present or future? Perhaps, it is this moment that is to be embraced and lived for it shall no longer remain the same. Time, here, is symbolic to being in a constant state of flux. Change is primary, if it exists at all. Here, in the first stanza, the speaker seems in urgency to assert the oneness. It is ironical that as time passes the change in relation seems to grow wider apart like the space between the words. Perhaps, this poem also symbolizes the selfishness of people- whenever they are in need, they come close but after the purpose is fulfilled, the relation also rifts apart leaving a vacuum.

Most of the times, the poet does not seem to address any specific readers as his poems are rather pensive. In “Meditation,” the speaker contemplates the abstract ideas related to Buddhist philosophy:

I shut the windows of my room

                        And pulled the dark curtains over them.

I closed the door from outside

                        And firmly bolted it.

Finally, I shut the main gate too.

Having done all that—

            I entered into my room. (15)

Here, the act of shutting, pulling over the curtains, locking, and bolting are metaphorical and the speaker is renouncing everything in order to reach that state of realization. Thus, the act of sheltering showed here leads to the ultimate exposure of the self from within. In Buddhism, ignorance is the root of all the suffering.  Buddha offers the cure in Cessation (nirodha), in Nirvana, which is elaborated by Paul Williams and Anthony Tribe in the following passage:

If suffering in all its forms results from craving, then it follows that if craving can be completely eradicated, suffering will come to an end. As we have seen, the way to eradicate completely craving is to eradicate its cause, ignorance, through coming to see things in the deepest possible manner the way they really are. The complete cessation of suffering is nirvana (Pali: nibbana). (60)

We are in a constant strife to attain happiness fulfilling our dreams and desire relying on the external sources. It could be the materialistic or bodily pleasure that we seek. We forget that this dependence on the external factors give us a momentary contentment. We are awakened only when we begin to understand that the profound satisfaction is only found when we let go off the worldly pleasure. This is again a shift from ignorance to bliss. Again, the ‘I’ here is symbolic of entering the self where room is the body and windows, and doors are the senses.

The poet manages to hook the audience to such philosophical contemplation over impermanence through his stylistic innovations. The apparent chaotic structure and erratic line breaks devoid of punctuations break the conventional method of poetry writing. At times, it even appears to be monotonous. However, this also makes his style even more ornately experimental and exempt of artificial vanity. Moreover, the structural and linguistic experimentations, very often than not, reinforce the ideas the poems convey.The poet also seems to be deliberately frugal with words allowing the readers liberation from the boundary of the tableaux he has painted.

In all, it would not be an exaggeration to claim that Stars and Fireflies, with all its innovations, takes one to a meditative poetic journey into impermanence. Though impermanence shapes our life and world, we hardly bother to notice it. In this context, Subedi’s poems, by foregrounding transience in artistic ways, provoke us to notice it amidst the banality of our life. Once we notice it, banality remains no longer banality. That’s the beauty of flashes of Stars and Fireflies.

 Works Cited

Bhattarai, Richa. “As Stars and Fireflies Shine and Glow.” Republica  (May 8, 2009): (p)

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. http://www.themindfulword.org/2013/buddhist-quotes-mindfulness-buddhism-meditation-impermanence-suffering/

Ghimire, Binaya. “Writing Outside the Margins.” The Kathmandu Post (August 29, 2009): 7.

Subedi, Prakash. Stars and Fireflies. Kathmandu: Society of Nepali Writers in English, 2009.

Williams, Paul with Anthony Tribe. Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian

 Tradition. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.

(Published in Of Nepalese Clay, 20th issue)



In Media

News/reviews of Stars and Fireflies

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Prospero Workshop 2015, Denmark-Sweden

Workshop for Playwrights and Theatre producers – May 2015

The main subproject in the first period was a three week long ’double’ workshop for 6 play writers and 6 theatre producers from Burkina Faso, Uganda and Nepal.

In a dialogue with three  ‘ambassadors’ from the three countries – Patrick Mangeni, professor in Literature and Drama at Makerere Univerity in Kampala/Uganda, Prakash Subedi, teacher in Literature and Drama at Kathmandu University/Nepal and Bonaventure Yameogo, producer and president for AFRICAPAX network and ARTerial Network/Burkina Faso – we could plan and organize a useful and relevant workshop with highly qualified participants, who can guarantee a professional result, local grounding and a realistic future for the developed projects. 12 competent and motivated writers and producers were invited to participate in the workshop. As teachers and Nordic networkers we chose Norwegian, Danish and Swedish theatre people with long – and various – experience from the field.

The workshop was held May 4 – 22 2015. We worked at Landskrona Teater for the first two weeks and the last week we spent at the Danish Development Center for Performing Arts in Odsherred in Denmark.

The first 10 days were just for the Play writers. They got introductions to various writing methods, dramaturgy principles, thoughts and theories and experiences from working with Performing Arts for children/adults, about art/pedagogics, history/new trends. They wrote a new story each day, which was discussed by the group the following day. In the middle of the period the producers arrived and the participants was put together in pairs – writer and producer –to develop a realistic and visionary project, a start on a theatre performance for children in their homeland.

The workshop was celebrated and the result presented at an international meeting and arrangement at Teaterøen in Copenhagen. The participants presented themselves, their work and the concepts developed under the workshop. Nordic colleagues were invited to read, listen and give professional feedback and just to do networking. The arrangement was public and the interest from the branch was warm.

The workshop was a great experience for all that participated!

The exchange of experiences was amazing and intercontinental. 5-6 new concepts for performances for children and family theater were produced during the weeks. All of them are going to be realized and two of them also intercontinentally.

Participants: Alain Hema, Adama Kaboré, Bonaventure Yameogo from Burkina Faso, Patience Nitumwesiga, Juliet Nantambi, Lillian Mbabazi, Olivia Namyalo from Uganda, Prakash Subedi, Alok Lamsal, Dillip Rana Bhat, Devendra Neupane, writers/producers from Nepal.


NWEN Past events

Events of the Previous Years

Venue: Kathmandu


NWEN on a regular basis organized poetry reading sessions on the last Saturday of each English month to promote cr

Poetry Reading Sessions



NWEN on a regular basis organized poetry reading sessions on the last Saturday of each English month to promote creative writings and readings have been a part of our regular activities. NWEN has alre

Literary Workshops

Venue:Kathmandu and Nagarkot

Date:2005 and 2009

First Workshop: The first literary workshop was organized on July 30, 2005.
Second Workshop: NWEN organized the second literary workshop on the theme- NWEN



Date: 2001-2011

1.     NWEN invited senior lyricist/poet Mr. Ratna Sumsher Thapa as guest poet at one of our monthly programs to give talk about their writings.


Venue:Kathmandu and Lucknow

Date:2011 and 2012

1.  NWEN invited a group of poets from the University of Iowa, USA, in of its special poetry reading session on 30th April 2011. Christopher Merill,         Directo



Date:2008 and 2010

Poetry Competition: NWEN organized an annual poetry competition on 6th March 2010. Twenty four poems were received for the competition.

Short Story C




1. NWEN organized an event to discuss Ammaraj Joshi’s collection of short stories on June 28, 2008 at Apex College Seminar Hall in       Kathmandu.

2. The first iss

Poetry Festival


Date:Nov. 16, 2002

NWEN organized its first poetry festival on November 16, 2002 at Patan Multiple Campus premises in Lalitpur, Nepal. 83 poets, writers and literary enthusiasts had registered for the festival.

Annual General Meetings



NWEN hold its Annual General Meeting every year after the completion of Nepali fiscal year. The last AGM was held in August 20011.

Literary Workshop- 3



Third Series of NWEN’s Literary Workshop will be organized by the end of this year.
Date and venue is yet to be confirmed.
We will post the details as they are decided.



NWEN Poetry Reading, May 2008

Launching of Clay 20

Reading, Writing and Presenting Poetry

“Reading, Writing, and Presenting Poetry”

A workshop organized by Society of Nepali Writers in English (NWEN) in Nagarkot on March 28. 2009.





In Prospero Performing Arts Centers first period we have concentrated on three subprojects, to demonstrate what the platform wish to be and can be used to.

The project have been implemented with the help of generous support from Nordic Culture Point, Nordiska Kulturfonden and Kulturbryggan and the collaboration partners own energy and resources. Passepartout Theatre Production has also been supported by Danish Center for Culture and Develpment and The Danish Arts Council, to contribute as an economical active part of the project. Danish Development Center for Performing Arts, Danish School for Performing Arts, has also been a crucial partner in one of the subprojects.

The three subprojects have been

1. A two days Nordic seminar about theatre and art for children today

2. A Three week’s workshop in a meeting between Play Whrigts and producers from Uganda, Burkina Faso and Nepal.

3. Development and presentation of an artistic collaboration and co-production within Europe

Subproject – Nordic seminar about theatre and art for children today – May 2014

As the starting shot for Prospero we thought it was a good idea to take a look at ourselves here in the Nordic countries – to try to define what’s our speciality and characteristics when working with Performin Arts for children and young people. Do we have anything special, something else than the rest of the world in this field.

The Nordic countries are famous for our respect for the child, for the high quality in children’s theatre, literature etc. and for our well functional funds for art and culture. We decided to organize a two day long Nordic seminar about the subject – for colleagues and people working with the issue.

The seminar was held May 12 – 13 2014 in Landskrona, just before the Bibu-fesival in Helsingborg.

The first day a smaller group of 15-20 people met to work with the questions about the Nordic view on the child, the childhood, art and pedagogics.

The second day everybody with interest could come to join the seminar and the discussion

The seminar resulted in a Charter about children’s right to art and culture. It was written in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and English and was based on the article 31 in the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Subproject – Intercultural Workshop for Play Whrigts and Theatre producers – May 2015

The main subproject in the first period was a three week long ’double’ workshop for 6 play writers and 6 theatre producers from Burkina Faso, Uganda and Nepal.

In a dialogue with three ’ ambassadors’ from the three countries – Patrick Mangeni, professor in Literature and Drama at Makerere Univerity in Kampala/Uganda, Prakash Subedi, teacher in Literature and Drama at Kathmandu University/Nepal and Bonaventure Yameogo, producer and president for AFRICAPAX network and ARTerial Network/Burkina Faso – we could plan and organize a useful and relevant workshop with highly qualified participants, who can guarantee a professional result, local grounding and a realistic future for the developed projects. 12 competent and motivated writers and producers were invited to participate in the workshop. As teachers and Nordic networkers we chose Norwegian, Danish and Swedish theatre people with long – and various – experience from the field.

The workshop was held May 4 – 22 2015. We worked at Landskrona Teater for the first two weeks and the last week we spent at the Danish Development Center for Performing Arts in Odsherred in Denmark.

The first 10 days were just for the Play writers. They got introductions to various writing methods, dramaturgy principles, thoughts and theories and experiences from working with Performing Arts for children/adults, about art/pedagogics, history/new trends. They wrote a new story each day, which was discussed by the group the following day. In the middle of the period the producers arrived and the participants was put together in pairs – writer and producer –to develop a realistic and visionary project, a start on a theatre performance for children in their homeland.

The workshop was celebrated and the result presented at an international meeting and arrangement at Teaterøen in Copenhagen. The participants presented themselves, their work and the concepts developed under the workshop. Nordic colleagues were invited to read, listen and give professional feedback and just to do networking. The arrangement was public and the interest from the branch was warm.

The workshop was a great experience for all that participated!

The exchange of experiences was amazing and intercontinental. 5-6 new concepts for performances for children and family theater were produced during the weeks. All of them are going to be realized and two of them also intercontinentally

Participants: Alain Hema, Adama Kaboré, Bonaventure Yameogo from Burkina Faso, Patience Nitumwesiga, Juliet Nantambi, Lillian Mbabazi, Olivia Namyalo from Uganda, Prakash Subedi, Alok Lamsal, Dillip Rana Bhat, Devendra Neupane, producent from Nepal

Subproject – Development and presentation of a co-production within Europe

One of the ideas about Prospero and the Nordic triangle is to structurally support development and presentation of intercultural Performing Arts for children in our countries as well. It is difficult to reach the audience with ‘unknown’ artists, it is more expensive etc.

Therefore we chose to put a European co-production under the wings of Prospero in the first period, to demonstrate a possibility for the framework. Prospero cannot be a producer, but a base for development and presentation.

A co-operation between Mala Scena in Croatia, Passepartout Theatre Production in Denmark and Landskrona Teater in Sweden was developed under 2013 and 2014. We made an application for Creative Europe, national, local funds and a used time on detailed planning and share work and roles. In October we could present the performance “Why me?” in Zagreb and Landkrona and in January 2015 in Copenhagen – with a plan for a Nordic tour.



(From Prospero Website. For more details, visit: http://prosperoperformingartscenter.com/home-2.html)












ACH members discuss the decline of the Humanities, and the possible courses of action the organization could take for its upliftment in Nepal.

(April 6, 2013, Russian Cultural Center, Kathmandu, Nepal.)

(Some ACH collaborations)



(For details, visit LAN blog: https://lankathmandu.wordpress.com/events-programs/)


Pan-Asia Creativity







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Blog English


Blog Nepali


My translations

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Translations of my works

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Book talks

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इब्सन: समय र सन्दर्भ

Ibsen: Beyond Time and Space

Six Strings

Stars and Fireflies


Of Nepalese Clay

Events abroad

Events Home

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Poems Nepali

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Palm-sized stories

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New Regionalism: A Conference with Prof. Spivak

Summer Arts Festival

Summer Arts Festival is organized annually by PANAsia Creativity, and features all the genres of arts including literature, music, painting, theatre, and films.

The first edition of the festival was held on 30-31 May, 2014 at Shaligram Complex, Jawalakhel, Kathmandu.


South Asian Poetry Festival for Peace

“United for Peace and Poetry”

SAPFP is a festival that celebrates the joy and the power of poetry. It provides a platform for the expression of thoughts and ideas and believes in unity in diversity. Poets and lovers of poetry meet and unite to celebrate two beautiful and important needs , peace and creativity. South Asian Poetry Festival For Peace 2013 will be held for two days, December 7 and 8, in Basantapur Durbar Square and Patan Durbar Square premises.

South Asian Poetry Festival For Peace is scheduled to be held every year . Apart from the sheer joy of poetry, the festival aims to provide a platform where voices and visions are also shared. This is also a space where cultural exchange takes place.

(From SAPF website. For more details, visit: http://www.southasianpoetry.com/index.php)


April Theatre Festival, Denmark

Dariyanagar Poetry Festival, Bangladesh

Sufi Festival, Jaipur

International Sufi Festival, October 20-22, 2013

Diggy Palace, Jaipur, India


In news:


(https://saanjh.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/kashmirs-rays-shone-at-international-sufi-festival-rashmi-talwar/ )



SAARC Festival of Literature (2013), Agra, India



Prof. Abhi Subedi on SAARC Festival of Literature, 2013

Abhi sirs write up on SAARC Festival 2013-3-17.jpg

                                                                                   (The Kathmandu Post)

In news,

Ktm post SAARC Literary Festival

(The Kathmandu Post)

Sufi Festival, Amritsar

International Sufi Festival, October 20-21, 2012, Amritsar, India

SAARC Festival, Lucknow

SAARC Festival of Literature, 2012

Lucknow, India


SAARC Festival, Dhaka, Bangladesh


WRITE Foundation (Writers Readers Illustrators Translators and Educators Foundation), an affiliated Chapter of the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL) in Bangladesh.

SAARC Literary Festival Dhaka 2014 on 27th & 28th of February 2014 at the National Museum, Dhaka.

The theme of the festival is something that is possibly closest to all our hearts: BEYOND BORDERS: TOWARDS TRUST AND RECONCILIATION. A prominent aspect of this theme is the importance of the Language Movement of 1952 in Bangladesh in the subsequent geopolitical structuring of the subcontinent. We chose February, to be the month to host the festival, as February is when we all come together to honor our martyrs who gave their lives up for our language: Bangla.

A quest for common ground, spanning eight South-Asian nations, with some of the region’s greatest literary minds. Towards a Present, conjured from the triumphs, tragedies and trivia of the Past; a balancing of what was lost in the fire and what, gained in an embrace. A modern voice of Unity, devised from antiquated divisions.

In 2014, the journey continues in Bangladesh.



Sinhala translations of my poems

at the theatre.jpg

(Translated into Sinhala by Daya Dissanayake, Published in Daily News, Colombo, Sri Lanka)



බෙල්ලෙකු තුල
වැලි කැටයක්
මුතු ඔපය ගන්නට
කෙතරම් කලක්

සිඳු පතුල කිමිද
සියක් බෙල්ලන් කඩා
ගොඩ ගෙන එන්ට
කෙතරම් කලක්

ධීවර තරුණෙක්ට
සියක් බෙල්ලන් කඩා එකම
මුතු ඇටක් හෝ දකින්නට
කෙතරම් කලක්

ලොකු කුඩා මුතු අමුණා හුයෙක
ලකල් වූ මුතුහරක් තනන්නට
එය සොඳුරු ගෙලක පළඳන්නට
කෙතරම් කලක්

අහෝ මා මිතුර එද
මෙවන් වෙහෙසින් තැනූ මුතුහර
යලි එක් හුයෙක නොබැඳෙනා ලෙස
බිඳී මුතු දසත විසිර යන්නට
ගතවන්නේ අසුරු සැණක්
පමණක් නොවෙද…..

(Translated into Sinhala by Samanmalee Abayasiri)



අර කවුද? මම ඇසුවෙමි
පිස්සෙක්! ඔවුහු කීහ
ඔව් දුප්පත් අහිංසක පිස්සෙක්!
ඔහු හරිම විසුළුයි,
තනිවම දොඩයි! ඔවුහු කීහ
ඔහු තනිවම දොඩයි
මදනළද මේකුළුද
මල් පිපෙන තුරු වදුලු
ඉර සිඹින කඳු ගැනද
තනිවම දොඩයි ඔහු!
හරිම විසුළුයි
නොහැඟේ ඔහු අසම වෙන දේ
නමුත් දනී ඔහු
ඈත ඉර හඳ තාරකා ගැන! ඔවුහු කීහ.
දොඩන්නේද ඔහු ඔබ ගැන?
මම ඇසුවෙමි.
අප ගැන – ඔබ ගැනද – හැම ගැනද
දොඩයි ඔහු නිරතුරුව!
ඔහු ගේ දෙඩවිලි වල
නැති යමක් යමෙක් ඇතිද?
එය වීය මගේ අවසන් පැණය.
ඔවුහු පිළිතුරු දුන්නෝය මෙසේ
ඇත යමෙක් ඔහුගේ
දෙඩවිලි වල නැති
ඒ දුප්පත් අහිංසක පිස්සෙක්
නොදොඩයි කිසිවිට
ඔහු ගැන ඔහු………

(Translated into Sinhala by Samanmalee Abayasiri)



Devkota Studies 10

LAN Introduction


Books of 2009


As “Stars and Fireflies” shine and glow

– Richa Bhattarai


Review (The Himalayan Times)


Poetry in Strings

– Mahesh Paudyal

A group of six young experimentalists associated with the Society of Nepali Writers in English recently launched Six Strings—a joint anthology of poems that reveal that poetry can address things seldom thought of. Brief yet brilliant, the poems are about relations between men and women and vice versa, humans and the city, and changes forced upon lives by other lives.

Bal Bahadur Thapa has honestly asserted human realities of the present—even those that pertain to issues often considered ‘private’. Honesty worthy of a true poet, his themes are deeply philosophical and address some of the subtle issues associated with the psycho-sexual reality of life. My City is filled with pessimistic foreboding about bad times ahead. A Stranger delves into the nemesis of separation decreed upon relations, however intimate they are. The falseness of the world and the corresponding falseness of identity find expression in The Discovery. Apocalypse is deeply contemplative, narrating the tale of a mother that dies at childbirth, leaving behind four ‘strong and menacing’ boys. An Overnight Star is an absurdist’s search for fame within the limits of his existential contingencies. In Kathmandu, I Love You! poet Thapa lays bare the paradoxes associated with Kathmandu, fundamentally marked by plight, poverty, filth and disorder. Rain takes up sexual imagery, suggesting nature’s impregnation of the dry earth. Holi, one his best poems in the anthology, aptly catches the psycho-sexual filth foisted upon the piousness of Holi, the festival of colours.

Prakash Subedi’s poems reveal an epiphany known to all but seldom thought of. Experimental in make and Zen-like in content, they reveal realities that immediately appeal to the intellect. Goats, for example, juxtaposes the slain goats’ heads on the butcher’s table with those of live goats munching grass under it, and exposes the simultaneous existence of life-death binaries, and brevity of life doomed by nemesis. The Poem is metapoetic, claiming that “beneath the massive weight of their big bulky words, remained squeezed, hidden and choking—the poem,” satirising the tendency of authors to veil the bankruptcy of ideas in their creation by a cloak of heavy affectation and pedantic verbalism. One of his best poems in the anthology, Barrier is an apology in favour of emotion. “I was prepared / to cross the mighty Koshi / when two big drops of tears / from your eyes / created an ocean for me.” In Time, the poet writes: “Did you notice, the dream was longer than the night?” upholding the permanence of vision in the infinite gyre of the space-time continuum.

Keshav Sigdel’s verses are more about identity in an apparently unreal world. In him, a powerful urge for change becomes conspicuous, though an inevitable frustration at the lack of change is more or less explicit. To Myself at best represents both these evaluations: “That election/ I voted my own will. This election / I am not sure / because / everybody speaks with threat / to vote for ‘the people’”. Deeply satirical, the poetry is a sublimation of a commoner’s frustration with political impunity. The ‘tag’ nature of one’s name—that often acquires a consubstantial connotation—is exposed in Identity. Metamorphosis presents a grotesque picture of the real, characterised by our strategic suspension of the matter-of-fact realities to retire to an imaginary Byzantium. His Will Power is one the best poems in the anthology wherein the fallacy of the mere rhetoric of change is exposed, especially at a time when the spokesmen of change are themselves undecided about changing.

Hemraj Kafle’s poetry is more or less about paradoxes associated with life and relationships. He foregrounds plain realities and laughs at their incongruities. His opening poem My Fear invites readers to the richly contemplative world he promises in the anthology: “You say life is a river / And you and I sail along / But I fear a time / When the river changes its course / Or splits into two streams.”  Equally meditative is The Burden, commenting on the mere verbosity of peace to which practically no one is committed. My Neighbour, and Co-travellers are poems on relations characterised by vanity and self-centeredness. On Martyrdom, On the Pile of Papers and Street Theatre are satirical poems voicing the poet’s disgust at the inimical changes being foisted upon our time. Woman’s Day best expresses Kafle’s wit where he portraits his mother on that day: “So/ As usual / My mother / Got up early / fed her family / gathered her native tools / and went to work.”

Sarita Bhattarai has furnished some of her finest verses, more bent on the experiences of being a woman. Transformation is partly feministic, claiming that all tortures meted out by males transform into tears. The claim is, to some extent, an inapt generalisation. The word ‘transferred’ associated with tears sounds out of place. The Spectacle promises a gothic experience, attempting to identify beauty as an ugly beast. The poet marvels at its beauty while the beast is ‘contemplating’ the poet’s danger. How a beast can contemplate a poet’s danger is not explainable. Her Kitchen Garden expresses the best in her, harmonising as it does the opposites. Her sharp criticism of man’s territorial concern is beautifully expressed in the poem At Play.

Saraswati Lamicchane, while maintaining lexical brevity like others, exposes some poignant facets of art, and some ugly realities of life. Her celebration of the strength of poetry can be seen in Poems, wherein she writes: “Since/ my poems are just / between/ you / and/ me / I decided to remain silent.” The relative nature of  ‘change’ that acquires a dynamic denotation just because attitudes change or the environment in the vicinity changes is the substance of her poem Change. Concrete and quite experimental, The Gap echoes the deep-seated realisation of a daughter, who bears an inevitable destiny of becoming a mother. The best expression of her feministic attitude finds expression in Women-in-red wherein redness, associated with birth, sex and childbirth, is given an allegorical hue as related to a woman’s evolution in a social fabric, and her ultimate identity as defined by the redness of vermillion, and of course of blood.

Edited with extreme linguistic accuracy and characterised by a conscious selection of word and images, this anthology in a way heralds the burgeoning of a new generation of poets capable of translating fine human realities into beautiful pieces of art worth reading.

(Paudyal is a faculty member at the Central Department of English, TU)

(Published on Oct 1, 2011 in The Kathmandu Post)


Reading Half of Six Strings


Time constraints have allowed me to go quickly through only half a book that deserves to be read completely. This is not a denial to read the remaining other half. Six Strings, a compilation of the poetry by six friends who seek numerical balance of representation in the book (six times ten poems each) rather than gender balance (two women and four men), nevertheless seeks judgment of the reader in terms of performance rather than in terms of the identity of the writer. And, it is not easy to identify the poets in terms of style and subject matter until one gets quite familiar with their writing. Thus, these new voices challenge their readers to identify the poems they like before they identify the poet.

I have taken a back-page approach to fall back upon a traditional method of reading these poems, which makes me feel at ease. I have chosen to sample five poems by each writer to get a rough idea of what these are like. Alphabetically listed in terms of the name, the irony of fate is such that the only two women poets appear at the tail end of the list. The males are still dominant! Anyway, the national democratic practice of including thirty-three percent of women representation in everything one does organizationally is rigorously upheld. This is a consolation for the politically minded.

For the poetically minded, there is much more than quantification of competence through presence. Sarita Bhattarai, a poet who has chosen to talk about domestic experiences in her works, smiles at a couple who complain regularly that s/he is the only one who works (“Kitchen garden”). However, each one of the two shares in the garden work and the seeds grow. Of course, they do not only complain to each other; they also share their sorrows between themselves (“Transformation”) like two good friends. Yet, the reality is that, despite their wedding vows of never parting, each has a lonely journey to take. One lives alone, one dies alone (“Pathways”). “Spectacle” and “A Plea” both deviate somewhat from the theme of domesticity and are also vague to some extent. However, Sarita is a very promising poet who has found a voice and a theme.

Saraswati Lamichhane, a meek and gentle absence in grave company, sounds true to herself when she says that silence is the best form of poetic communication between a couple (“Poems”). She is not alone in this line of thinking because many poets writing of love have taken a similar perspective. And, without perspective one is blind (“The view”), says Saraswati. To develop a way of seeing that is uncommon is as hard as it is rewarding. Saraswati does this in “The River” where she symbolically expresses her faith in her parents’ physical aggression as a challenge to continue loving and caring for each other. She surprises us with yet another interesting perspective in “Change” where her subtle understanding of the way she changes because of the variety of people with whom she comes into contact daily as opposed to the table that does not change despite this contact is indeed laudable. Her theme is love and perspectives change again from expectations in dreams and expectations in waking hours with a change in the character who expects the same love from the other (“Shift”).

Prakash Subedi, another meek and humble poet who is recently under the influence of Buddhist texts, likes to look beyond the forms of things as they appear. Life, death and time prove to be the themes of his poems. In “Time,” he questions only: “Did/you notice/ the dream was longer than the night?” “Longer” means more meaningful. In “The poem,” he suggests that words are not always as meaningful since they, out of some figurative self-importance, choke the poem they are supposed to exude. When things are not what they seem to be, the world is a stage and life is as much acting as there is acting on the stage (“At the theatre”). To find meaning where it is least expected is to have an insight into truth: in “Barrier,” Prakash finds two drops of human tear a greater hurdle than the entire ocean.

Keshab Sigdel, with his special concerns for society and human rights, finds life a nightmare in the poem titled “The Change.” We come to this conclusion because he says that mornings are scarier than nights and confesses: “I fear the Broad Day Light.” To him, enlightenment has taken an about turn in the cities (“My buddha-in-becoming”). “To myself” probably explains this by expressing the poet’s fear of degenerated political practice in the nation. He seeks his own true identity amidst a multiplicity of identities and finds out that the twelve letters of his name “only exhibit[s] my non-existence.” He is a mere nobody, a mere piece on the chess board, a pawn moved and manipulated by the players who determine the course of his life (“The chess game”). This is probably what makes his life a nightmare.

Hem Raj Kafle, who seems ready to accept any topic under the sun as a theme for his poems, obviously has a wider ken of vision. He is as much at ease talking about a personal fear of separation from one’s companion as a result of natural forces such as a river (“My fear”) as about general human nature. In “Just or unjust,” he finds the human inclination to justify themselves quite disgusting and self-centered. Another poem, “The burden,” talks about the elusiveness of peace, which everyone desires. The language, though, is quite obscure especially in the third stanza of this poem. He talks about how the condition of the family of a drunkard raises enough pity in him to forgive the drunkard where others might blame the drunkard for making the family suffer. In the poem titled “On martyrdom,” the poet seeks to understand the new definition of martyrdom by asking what qualifies one to become a martyr.

Bal Bahadur Thapa, a quiet and hard working person, brings up the imagery of the womb frequently in his poems. Not quite happy with human ambition of overnight success (“An overnight star!”), he regards human individuality as something that should create its own destiny by moving from the mother to the other and resigning oneself to the inevitability of such a separation (“A stranger”). Survival will then mean hard work on one’s own. In “Apocalypse,” he even accepts the possibility of the mother’s death at childbirth. With this juxtaposition of life and death, or death-in-life as in the city (“My city”) one has to grow wise with the realization that the external image of unity of the self is a lie (“The discovery”), that the self is all fragments, indeed.

Put the seis amigos together and you will find a love of normal sunshine in a happy domesticity, a desire of peace and prosperity in the social world, a desire to enhance the cultural world, a disgust of all that hampers the blossoming of human civilization with barbaric and anti-humanistic militantism, a desire to understand love, life, human relations, death, time, and eternity. Originally written in English, the poems are readable, experimental at times, visually effective at other. After a first reading, the poems begin to attach themselves to this or that poet in terms of themes and styles. All of them promise a growth along individual lines of visions and perspectives.

Since all of these poets are active members of the Society of Nepali Writers in English (N/WEN), I am very proud of these young poets who, I believe, will soon inspire other people with their success. I congratulate them all.

Maitidevi, Kathmandu
July 23, 2011


six srtings cover




Dear friends, welcome to my blog (or, whatever it is, or it is not….and, only if you have nothing better to do, that is!)

I have lately realized that I am very careless about archiving things: I have lost many things I wrote and published over the years (even though, almost all of it was incoherent, insubstantial stuff, and losing it would not matter much to anyone, including myself). So, I thought of putting together some of those thing in one place (primarily for myself as an archive, but also for those friends who have read my stuff and have asked me to write and share more, and . . . for you too, if you insist. 🙂 )

This is just a beginning, and I hope to gradually add more writings.

Thank you for being here.



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Creative recitation

KATHMANDU: Poetry recitation programme held on May 30 at Institute of Advance, Communication, Education and Research Centre (IACER) college welcomed a crowd of participants. This plainly proved the rise of interest in english language and creative writing among people. This recitation programme is regular organised by the Society of Nepali Writers in English (N/WEN).

As amateur poets and other participants were passionately waiting for their turn, the recitation schedule set off with a poem Kirtipur Flood by an emerging poet Prakash Subedi.

The programme followed speed with other poems from Keshab Sigdel, Tila Ram Sapkota, Sarita Bhattarai Hem Raj Kafle, Muna Pokharel.

Most of the poems presented the idea of irony and humour. Sigdel’s ironical poem titled Happiness which touched upon marital subject was rewarded with standing ovation from the audience. Similarly, Hem Raj Kafle’s poem Woman’s Day was also successful to deserve similar cheer ups.

Professor Padma Devkota commenting on the poems of the participants said that the poems today represented multiple dimensions.

“This society has really provided a spacious platform for expressing emerging poets’ inner thoughts through poems,” he added. Devkota also informed that N/WEN was established by a group of writers and academicians with the main objective to encourage Nepali writers who write in english.

(February 09, 2016, The Himalayan Times)

Creative Recitation

Asian literature festival, Thailand

ASEAN and Asian Festival for Literature and Culture, Phuket, Thailand (April 22-26, 2015)






In News

Two Nepali Poets at the Asian Conference on Literature and Culture

Apr 23, 2015-The ASEAN and Asian Conference on Literature and Culture started in Phuket, Thailand, from April 22. Representing Nepal in the conference are poets Keshab Sigdel and Prakash Subedi. The conference is organised by the Department of Cultural Promotion, the Ministry of Culture (Thailand), with support from the Phuket Municipal Office and Phuket Rajabhat University. The convention was inaugurated by Vira Rojpojchanarat, the Thai minister of culture.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Rojpojchanarat said that in a world that seems to be getting divided more and more along political, religious, ethnic and linguistic lines, culture and literature could be the means to unite all the people.

The opening session of the convention saw renowned Thai authors Prabhassorn Sevikul and Sukanya Chonlasuek talking about the importance of organising regional level conferences on literature and culture.

Participants in the conference include poets and writers from countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Myanmar, Taiwan, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, among others. The conference will go on for five days, and end on April 26.

(The Kathmandu Post, Published: 23-04-2015 08:18)

Phuket news


ASEAN and Asian Festival for Literature and Culture, Phuket, Thailand (April 22-26, 2015)


Article ASEAN & Asian3-4 - Copy


Ibsen: Beyond Time and Space

CCI06182015_0002 - Copy

(The Kathmandu Post)





Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog [or, whatever it is]!

I recently realized that I am very careless about archiving things; I have lost many things I wrote and published over the years [even though, almost all of them were very very insignificant and losing them would not matter much to anyone, including myself, I know].

This is, therefore, my humble attempt to put together all of my writings in one place [primarily for myself as an archive, but also for my friends who have read my stuff, and have encouraged me to write more…]

Thank  you.

Fond regards,


[It’s going to take a while for me to add things here though, it seems… 🙂 ]


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