Glocal had an exclusive interview with Rupesh Bhattarai who is well known for his poems. He writes both in Nepali and English. His poems have already been published and reached to an international platform and to an International audience. Now he is also going to represent Nepal in Individual World Poetry Slam 2019.
We asked some questions to which he answered giving his view points.
- What are you doing nowadays? What are you busy at?
I work at Karkhana. It is an education company. I have been cherishing Karkhana as an educator for past six years now.
- Since you are interested in poems, what is poem/poetry for you?
Poetry is a tool for expressing my thoughts basically. As for sculpture, chisel, hammer, raps are their tools, poetry is same for me.
- When did you start writing poem and realized this is what I want to do?
I started really early, I was in second grade. About realization that I have been involved in poetry and I have been writing it much now, I felt that in high school. I used to write rap back then, but after that I got inclined towards spoken word poetry. And I think the same phase is being continued till date.
- Do you remember your first poem?
I do actually. I got a very good memory. I don’t remember the inner words but I remember the context that made me write. So when I used to go to school there used to be a kid, who was the same age of mine and he used to wash dishes in one of the hotel. I really used to feel bad for him since he was of my age but still wasn’t fortunate enough to attend school and had to work. So I wrote a rhythmic basic poem based on it.
- Since you write in both languages, which language do you prefer writing, English or Nepali?
Yes, I do write in both but I prefer writing in English and there is a reason for it. I want to write in English more because I am looking for an International audience. I want our stories to reach to International audience. Stories of Kathmandu, stories of Nepal and our struggling.
- So what type of poems do you prefer writing like we have haiku, free verse, sonnets?
Generally I like free verse since it is free flowing as its name. Having said that I also like experimenting with the structure. Like while writing raps I experiment a bit with structure. Other than that, we have tools, literary devices like alliteration, allusion, I like playing with words that way. I haven’t written classical structure like sonnets and villanelle. But I also think it depends on the mood.
- Who is your favorite poet? And what do you like about his/ her poetry?
About my favorite poet, I have only read 1 or 2 poems. One of my favorite poem is “Keeping Things Whole”, by one of my favorite poet Mark Strand. That poem takes me to the whole other world and same with the poems of Robert Frost and Sylvia Plath. The way they are able to take me to other place and in some way high. I like the poem which can induce that feeling.
- What do most poorly-written poems have in common?
In any poorly-written poems, there is the thing that Hemingway says, “Something becomes poorly written when you are not honest.” I think that’s what happens in most poorly written work.
Nowadays people have started using devices and metaphoric simile a lot. If I say “I stood there as still as the clock”, I am not being honest with myself for 100% because I don’t actually feel that, but I just said that because it connects. I thinks that’s what poorly-written poems have in common. They have interesting stuffs but they are not really honest and in some ways you can sense it. And yes they tend to over exaggerate things.
- In Nepal what is the situation or condition of poets? What do you think is the future of poets in Nepal?
We shouldn’t see future. I think that is the wrong way to look at. When you look things that way, everything starts looking like profit and loss statement. So life isn’t that.
Looking of the present condition of poet, I feel some of us are trying to take this as a currier and some of us are trying to be very idealistic about it. Talking about me, I belong to idealistic side, like poetry is a tool for living.
While some of them are into commercial side who thinks poetry is good but they also need to earn money. But every perspective is fine in their own way. And I think both is present in current poetry scenario.
Also people have been using poetry extensively to raise their voice and it is good in one way but also isn’t in the other.
- So you are going to represent Nepal on Individual World Poetry Slam 2019 on September, how excited are you?
The reason I have been trying to participate in this competition is not for me to win but for me to let other people know that this can be done. As poet and as writer, our community is very small. We have been posting videos in our YouTube channel and on Facebook and get couple of thousands of views and sometimes even millions of views, to which we show satisfaction, but there is a broaden horizon out there. Our poems and stories is just been heard by Nepali and foreign Nepalese residents. I want to show our struggle and craft to larger mass of audience. In some way we can do this like participating in such event.
Our south Asia has been so much influenced by the West and our native culture has become squeezed and compressed. Now we have to spread our culture too.
And I expect to create a good network and conversation with poets other there in such a way that we can have common community, and that community to understand and learn each other’s perspective so that our culture doesn’t get constrict.