Saturday, May 09, 2009

Festival Internacional de Poesia de Quetzaltenango - this wk. in Guatemala

Ramsey, our friend studying Spanish in Guatemala, sent word about an international poetry festival taking place there all this week (May 9-15). He's gonna be checking it out, which I'm happy he's doing. For more info on the fest, click here.

And, to read his online travel notes--which are remarkably nuanced and detailed at times--check out
RAMSEY'S TRAVEL BLOG. I recommend the additional reading implements of a strong cup of coffee and a well-cushioned desk chair.

On the subject of traveling abroad and witnessing poetry festivals, I am reminded of my own three months spent--quite often--hanging out in Kathmandu with some of the contemporary Nepali "stars" of poetry. Once word got out that a poet from America was wandering their streets, many KTM literary scholars and poets invited me to teas, lunches, and some--at times--quite pompous literary events, the likes of which I'd never experienced before. (Imagine sitting in an un-air conditioned windowless lecture hall for five hours, watching dignitary after dignitary walk up to the podium for his 10-minute honoring ceremonial introduction--now this is before you even get to hear one poem. When an actual poet is introduced, his (though there are noted and recognized women poets and authors, the great majority are men) brief reading is preceded by hugely long sonorous commentaries by a panel of (who designates them as such, I never found out) critics. Torture, I tell you.{

However, one bold shining exception to all the pomp and pretension I experienced at Nepali literary events, was getting to spend quality time--in his home, no less--with the nationally-revered poet Megh Raj Manjul, known to most as simply 'Manjul." Ah, now the memories are really flooding in. Now I have to drop everything, maybe tonight, and find that old audio cassette which contains my brief interview with Manjul (circa August 1999), and, most importantly, the poems and song that he performed for me and my tape recorder. (Dang, I hate that my minidisc battery was spent by the time I got to meet Manjul...)

Until today, it hadn't even occurred to me that my Nepali literary comrade might have a web presence this century. I guess, because Nepal didn't even get digital pagers until the late 1990s, I didn't think that folks there would even be bothering with website development and html authoring. Oh well, more the surprise and pleasure for me now, as I am finding a cornucopia of sites that are feeding my current re-fascination with all things Nepal.

You can read more about Manjul, as one of the many Personalities of Literature from Nepal on the Spiny Babbler website. Spiny B is a veritable production house of activity for all things literary in Nepal. I myself own archival copies of the "Spiny Babbler", the English-language poetry journal founded by Nepali publisher/writer Pallav Ranjan. I suppose that the print journal was only the beginning for Pallav, as the online website now evidences.

As I keep browsing, I find more sites leading me to my past. Wow, even my former meditation teacher, Wayne Amtzis, is online! I remember doing walking meditation on his rooftop one humid Kathmandu afternoon, and meeting him for Buddhist teaching sessions at a study center every so often during my summer there. Wayne is also established, as expatriate from the U.S., as a writer and translator, having played an instrumental role in the publication of dozens and dozens of poems written in both Nepali and Nepal Bhasa (one of many ethnic languages) over the years. I think I'll send him an email, and start a reconnection in earnest with the living poets of that nation.

Here's to literary expression, anywhere--be it Guatemala or Nepal, Mexicio or the U.S.--and everywhere, and to all the contemporary writers who forge bonds beyond borders.


sugat. said...

Thanks for this blog. I really enjoyed it a lot. Im from Nepal.

Tammy Gomez said...

Thanks, Sugat. You might want to check out another blog i'm still trying to fill out with details of my first trip to Nepal: