Your search keywords:

Prakash Thamsuhang on poetry and essays

Prakash Thamsuhang on poetry and essays

Prakash Thamsuhang is a Panchthar-born poet and essayist currently based in Ilam, where he leads Yakthung Lekhak Sangh and Ilam Nagar Sahitya Kala Sangit Pratisthan. He has been felicitated with several awards, including Dibyabikram Nembang Smriti award, Manamaya Smriti award, and Srisas Hong Kong award, for his works. His recent book, Shabdathum, collection of essays (2023) garnered critical acclaim. Ken Subedi conversed with Thamsuhang about poetry and essays.

You have written poetry as well as essays. What is more close to your heart and why?

I have been writing poems and essays together from the very beginning of my writing journey. Though I published works of essays after 17 years of publication of works of poetry, I share my thoughts and feelings through essays that I can’t express through poetry. I think the first condition for an essay is thought. Other elements required for an essay are secondary subject matters. But poetry strongly demands art as well as thoughts. An essay is like building a wall of stone, whereas poetry is an art of making a statue of stone. I love reading and writing poetry a lot. I am a great admirer of the way poetry strikes mind and soul with supernatural power.

Can you share a few common elements between poetry and essays? Or are they completely different from one another?

The common element of poetry and essays is thought. Essay and poetry both are the ideological weapons of a poet, through which the poet strives to make a positive impact upon the mind of a reader. I say that there should be in-depth feelings in both the genres, poetry and essay. An essay becomes sharp if a poetic element is mixed in it as good readers comment so. Contemplation, reflection and philosophy are also the common elements of both the genres. Poetry and essays have different structures altogether.  However, some experimental poets have been writing prose poetry. To criticize Nepali poets and poetry, some have been accused of creating poetry by pressing enter key in essays. Poetry has to tell many things with a few words. Essays, on the other hand, do not have word limitations.

What inspires one to become a poet and a writer? 

There has been much evidence when the writers produce literature as a matter of a response pertaining to significant events. Literature is being written out of such an urge in Nepal as well. For example, Nepali literature is being written based on the ten years’ civil war. Similarly, literature is being written on environmental crises, social transformation, etc. But what I think is the aesthetic consciousness of the writer along with the subject matter is an important thing. Is literature in favor of social justice or not? I think that a writer’s effort should lie in making society beautiful. Writers and poets should strive to make the earth worth living for all creatures. 

What books have the most influence on your writing?

I find a lot of ideas in books. Imagination is the most important aspect for me that I find in them. My reading journey started with comics and Muna magazine during my young age. Indian detective novels and Prakash Kovid’s Love novels, which I read during my teenage years, taught me to love words. I read somewhat serious books during my college life. They helped me in developing thoughts. Some of the books taught me to know myself. They taught me to understand the difference between religion and spiritualism. These books surely have their impact upon my writing.

There is a greater impact of books of Bairagi Kaila’s poems in my writing. Philosophical and cultural consciousness, proper use of myth and expressive skills found in Kaila’s poems impress me a lot. I also take inspiration from the essays of Shankar Lamichhane. His unique and extraordinary writing skill surprises me more when I re-read them.

Do you agree that contemporary poets have started writing in other genres like essays and novels? Do you think that authors should write across a variety of genres or should they stick to one?

There is much evidence that a poet can write in other genres too. Recently, as you said, poets are in the race of writing fiction. I agree. The poetic quality of a poet, when used in a work of fiction, can illuminate the work. There isn’t any uniform rule that a poet should just write poetry. I don’t feel bad if a poet presents his capability through different mediums.