Writing poetry is not an easy task. There are too many sacrifices to be made; too many personal interests have to be abandoned. Kabir himself, who was a very famous poet of his generation, had made many sacrifices to walk that road of poetry.
This particular quote by Kabir stands close to my heart because I find it very relatable. I myself began my journey into poetry by teaching. Later, I discovered that my true passion lay in writing poems, creating a different world with words. Then I quit teaching in 1996 and chose my career as a freelance writer. At the same time, I visited the Annapurna region and that kindled the poet in me. [BREAK]
I realized that teaching is very easy compared to writing poems. Teaching is about living in a world made by someone else while writing poems is a different story. It is about creating a different world altogether. And it is no wonder that not everyone has become great poets, or even writers. It requires a lot of hard work to be a writer and you cannot simply accomplish that feat unless you take risks; unless you prepare yourself for a harsh journey that is certain to follow.
Yuyutsu Ram Das Shama is a widely acclaimed writer based in Nepal. He moved to Nepal at an early age from his hometown Nakodar, Punjab, and now writes in both Nepali and English. He travels all over the world occasionally to read from his works and conducts creative writing workshops at various universities in the United States and Europe. When back home, he goes trekking in the Himalaya where he gains inspiration to pen another creation.
Sharma grew up in a very religious environment which inspired him to read Vedic texts and epics right from a young age. He has published nine poetry collections, including, “Milarepa’s Bones,” “Nepal Trilogy,” “Photographs and Poetry on Annapurna, Everest, Helambu & Langtang” which is a 900-page book with renowned German photographer, Andreas Stimm, “Space Cake,” “Amsterdam & Other Poems from Europe and America,” and “Annapurna Poems.” Also, Sharma’s own work has been translated into German, French, Italian, Slovenian, Hebrew, Spanish and Dutch.
Aamako Sapana by Gopal Prasad Rimal
This poem by Rimal is one of the first free verse poems to be written in Nepali language. This is allegorical to the idea of democracy and freedom that Rimal always stood by.
I particularly like the way he has woven personal stories with national politics. Rimal lived a very violent and vibrant life. This can be pictured vividly in his poems. His poems are original in the sense that they are the fusion of Rimal’s own personal experiences in life and the then political situation of the country. Rimal is truly monumental when it comes to Nepali literature.
Memoirs by Pablo Neruda
This book is an autobiography of the Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda. This book chronicles his journey into becoming a fine poet. His travels, exploits, experiences are all recorded in this book which can be considered a bible for poets.
Neruda lived his life amidst political turmoil in Chile. He was also later a diplomat and a politician. This book is the story of his life from his own words that give an insight into what his life had been like and what led him to become a poet, and later a Nobel laureate.
This book stands close to my heart as I could draw inspiration from him, and his experiences are easily relatable in my life too.
The World Record: International Voices from the Southbank Centre’s Poetry Parnassus Edited by Neil Astley and Anna Selby
This particular book is an anthology of fresh poems from all around the world. In fact, this collection is the result of a world poetry conference held in London last summer to celebrate the London Olympics 2012. I had also participated in that conference representing Nepal, and it had been a wonderful opportunity meeting contemporary poets from all around the world and listen to and read them. Through this anthology, I was able to know a lot about the current poetry scenes in different parts of the world.
Thrall by Natasha Trethewey
This is also an anthology of poems by the current poet laureate of the United States, Natasha Trethewey. In her poems, Trethewey explores the subject of races and prejudices as they happen in America.
Hers are poems on personal history backed by the making of America at their hearts. Trethewey herself has a mixed parentage. This pushed her to handle such a subject matter in her poems. This is very much close to Rimal’s poems which makes them equally enthralling to me.
In this particular collection, Trethewey has celebrated the union of races and ethnicities in the boiling pot of America. As Nepal is also a country with various races and ethnicities living together, her poems are particularly relatable here.
Garuda & Other Poems of Astral Plains by David B. Austell
This is yet another poetry collection on my list. This anthology contains poems by the New York-based poet, Austell, who is interested in Asian cultures. These poems are inspired by the legends of Garuda as in our Hindu mythology.
Austell has this particular style of writing poems; he writes long poems which are beautifully crafted and flow with perfect ease. The poems in this anthology are no exception.
Austell in his poems in this collection has explored planes higher than the Himalaya. He writes about Mars, and myth. The poems by Austell in this collection are an evocation to divine entities and the celebration of the natural elements that we should take care of.
As told to Ashish Dhakal