Dr. Amitabh Mitra talks to popular Nepali Poet Mukul Dahal.

1.  The Poetry of Nepal, Nepali writings in English, Can you take us down the memory lane and give us your feelings about poets and their poetry and how they developed along the years.

Poetry before Gopal Prasad Rimal (1980-1973) was predominantly metrically bounded. Rimal broke away from the tradition and wrote prose poems. He raised voice of majority of Nepalese people with force and art. People loved his poems. Thus he made prose poems popular. Bhupi Sherchan was another poet revered by people. He followed Rimal's footsteps and won people's heart with his poems. They were followed by a number of literary movements to set tone for the modernists. The modernists saw their heydays.
Now the new scene has set. Battered by a long standing armed conflict, the nation is poised for radical change in the entire socio-political strata. A moment of hush it is. A moment of hope too. Legions of poets and writers are actively doing creative writing. There are poets who plant hope for a bright future of Nepali poetry. So far as the works of Nepali poetry in English is concerned, it was miserable in the past. The translation at present is picking pace. If the government funded Academy pays a little heed towards it, we would have reason to feel proud.

2.  India and Nepal share a lot in culture, mythology and religion. How do you see Nepali Poetry written in English, its growing popularity in Nepal and outside and Contemporary Indo-English Poetry?

Yes, this sharing of culture, mythology, religion, people's way of living and many more things has carved a different dimension of relation. Even if the relation at the level of so-called politics or diplomatic circle gets cold, things can never happen at the level of people. I have been a reader of Indian poets and writers who write in English and have been thoroughly appealed. I have read Jayanta Mahapatra, R.K. Narayan, Mulk Raj Ananda, Arundhati Roy and Vikram Seth, to name only a few.

Nepali poetry and fiction written in English is slowly coming up. The writers like Samrat Upadhyaya and Manjushree Thapa have already given some outstanding books of fiction. There are others who have been no less creatively energetic. To come to poetry, I have not yet seen any such work that stands out in English. But there are poets, who are perspiring to stand out with some significant write.

peoples-movement3.  Any Poetry written in English about the Struggle?

There are a number of pieces in Nepali. But I have not come across in English. To cite I can put here a few of my own I wrote during the struggle last month to record history.

People's Movement 2006 April – 1
The batons
and guns
aimed at
the lives
of the innocent
are the long
and cruel
hands of the despot
reaching out
to strangle the
people's intent for freedom.

People's Movement 2006 April – 2
They have embraced
and worn death
like a flower
for the day
that heralds
freedom to their
fellowmen and
the generations to come.

People's Movement 2006 April – 3
They rose like
an invincible hurricane.
And swept every speck of dirt
off the face of the land.
They offered their blood,
soul, and a determination.
They offered more than what
they possessed.
Their sacred fury against
the atrocity of the darkness
that trod on their voices
for centuries
brought a dawn
that put a garland
of peaceful light
round their necks.

People's Movement 2006 April -4
He bought new, harsh
and fierce boots to
limit the movement
of the sterns strolling about the garden.
He hanged a clumsy ball
of iron in the legs of purple gallinule
to strip it off its nature.
He dangled a bulky nose ring
to fetter the graceful
struts of the Himalayan lophophorous.
He wore the boots
that mimicked death's
nails and claws.
He sent winter
to love's courtyard.
He fuelled
the agitation
of his own mind.
But all the things
that he did
turned to him
and began to
pull his root to
wipe him out of
the flower's home.
Then he kneeled down
and swore he had intruded
into their soul
and their lives.

5.  Love Poetry, the throb of a vibrant kingdom, Tell us about contemporary poetry and love considering Ghazals are still the most popular form of expression in Nepal.

There is a spate of love compositions popularly known as ghazal in Nepal today. One wonders why so many new poets are attracted by ghazal. It's because of its simplicity, musicality and softness. But I am yet careful about the quality composition. If the mass is aware of its beauty and tenderness, it has bright future. The generation to come is under ghazal's spell. Ghazal has captured themes beyond love. There has been departure from normal mode of ghazal theme. Ghazals have begun to encompass a wide range of themes.

6.  How do you see Nepali Poetry in English, Is it an Elitist attitude confined to only a very few, its gradual recognition in the international arena.

There is no very strong legacy of poetry in English in Nepal. The chunk of population that reads works of literature in English is so tiny. We can imagine of the size of mass that writes originally in English. Yet, the number is on the rise at the most recent time. We hope the Loktantra people have brought recently will open doors to free intellectual exercise and also help improve the harrowing publishing situation in Nepal. Yes, it seems it was somehow a kind of elitist attitude in the past. But that is no longer the case at the moment, primarily because the internet is in the reach of common people now. It will help break the geographical boundary and push its way towards the international arena. I envision the possibility.

7.  Will the new emerging face of Nepal influence on the English Poetry being written and published in Nepal?

Certainly, it will. New history is being made. New constitution. New mode of political exercise. New opportunities. People have begun to foresee an immense possibility of reconstruction of New Nepal. Over a decade long bloodbath has crushed people's hope. It has deeply affected poetic sensibility. It has lobotomized country's economy. Now the light of freedom has flooded in. There is open sky and fresh air. The shadow of oppression of absolute rule has become the thing of the past. It will influence on the English poetry being written. It will help improve the publishing situation. I hope books of poetry in English will be published and find readers at home and abroad.

I conclude here with a note of thanks to Amitabh.                 
May 21, 2006