“Whether an experiment is a success, is not the question. The question is whether an artist is ready to experiment. Keep experimenting, that’s the mantra for real artists,” says Nawaraj Parajuli, a popular contemporary Nepali poet. After successfully establishing the trend of Kavita concerts—reciting poems to music— Parajuli recently came up with a musical poetry “Eklai”, which has already garnered 260k views on YouTube. Eklai differs from his previous recitals as it has an additional element: beats. The poem, taken from his upcoming book “Ghar”, steals the show with its delicious combo of music, beats, and a phenomenal video in which he has acted.
This exceptional poet will soon host a television show “Forever with Nawaraj Parajuli” on Galaxy 4K TV, with poetry at its center, although the show, according to him, will also celebrate other art forms.
Having completed his Master’s Degree in English in 2014, he now has a fortnightly column in Nepali-language portal Shilapatra besides continuing to write poems and hold Kavita concerts.
Born in 1987 in Jalthal, eastern Jhapa to Hari Prasad Parajuli and Laxmi Devi Parajuli, he entered the Kathmandu Valley in order to pursue a master's degree. He says the valley brought out the poet in him and he started searching for new ways to demonstrate his creations.
His foray into poetry can be explained by his childhood love for arts of all kind. “I have always been a huge fan of arts,” he tells us. Reciting poems was an act that touched his soul even as a young boy. He remembers, “My father used to read poems from a book called Guna Ratnamala to me every night.” Parajuli for his part started by writing Gazals.
Manu Manjil’s poetry recital in Kathmandu’s Gurukul Theater in 2014 was a huge inspiration. “I told myself I would like to do something like that,” he recalls.
For a theater lover fascinated by acting, it was hard to confine his work within his notebook pages. It was then that he decided to fuse poetry with music, his other love.
At the same time, Parajuli chanced upon Samyak Maharjan, a flutist. When the two combined their skills, the audience would be left speechless. That was five years ago. In terms of popularity, his first real breakthrough came in 2017 during the launch of his book Sagarmatha Ko Gahirai. Parajuli had spent many sleepless nights preparing for the big recital, and it paid off. He now started getting invited abroad. Today, he has already performed in 20 countries. The book Sagarmatha Ko Gahirai, which had 36 poems, also bagged Khemkala-Harikala Lamichhane Foundation’s Padmashreee Award.
For Parajuli, his “short and sweet journey is filled with a myriad of memories” that he wishes to “live in forever”. An inspiration for many youths, Parajuli’s fans say his poems can heal wounds and energize people, while also giving them invaluable life lessons.
Famously, Nawaraj Dhakal, an audience member when he was performing in Lamjung five years ago, had submitted his three-hour exam paper in an hour just to watch him live. Later, Dhakal and his friends asked Parajuli to perform at their college. Parajuli doesn’t do these shows for free, as he aims to establish poetry as a profession. But he made an exception that one time.
Another time, while returning from India’s Varanasi, he had stopped at Butwal to eat chatpate by the roadside. Before leaving, the shop owner, who was a bit older than him, asked, “Are you the guy who performed the Aama poem?” Parajuli says the joy he then felt on being recognized for his poems was beyond words.
What attracts people to his poetry? He isn’t sure but he doesn’t want to know either. “When something is beautiful, you don’t always know the reason. And that’s okay,” he says. According to some people, Parajuli adds, his poems are more punchy when accompanied by music.
Musical poetry and Kavita concerts, for Parajuli, are attempts to add to art’s beauty. “Anything beautiful is important. That’s why musical poetry and Kavita concerts are important as well. I don’t want to prove anything. I just want this beauty to come through.”
For some people, his way of exploring poetry can be confusing. He is often asked if he is a rapper or a singer, and these questions leave him dumbfounded.
“This is creation. This is art,” he tells them.
Parajuli sees more and more youths getting into poetry—and it makes him immensely happy. He believes something magical is unfolding and he cannot wait to witness it.