Man and his muse: Mukarung

Kathmandu: One school of thought believes art should be pure creative expression, unconcerned with sociological problems or propaganda of the time. They consider artistic self-expression of the deepest inner feelings as the only true aesthetic mission of the writer. Shrawan Mukarung, the most talked about poet of the contemporary period, belongs to the other school. This school believes that literature has the capacity to change the attitude of society on many issues. Literature should be used as a weapon to actually curb social ills.

“For a poet to be successful, they should be clear about whom they are writing for. Contemporary Nepali poets like Ishwor Ballav, Bairagi Kainla and Mohan Koirala wrote for a small section of high class people and society. However, I believe that art and literature should carry import for the whole society,” says Mukarung. “Literature, art and music should all be written for the common masses. As a writer when you wish to publish it and want the reaction and responses from the readers: only then can you act in a manner truly responsible to society,” says he.

“Bise Nagarchiko Bayan (Bise Nagarchi’s Say)” is just such a poem written in the backdrop of present political situation. It is a dramatic piece, a monologue written in the voice of a legendary character assumed by none other than the poet, himself. This multifaceted poem is considered as a milestone in Nepali poetry that has also provided the poet with the first flushes of big time success. A didactic poem, its satire goes deep and works at many levels. Despite being from a poor minority class primarily meant to be engaged in sewing and playing musical instruments during festivals or auspicious occasions, Bise Nagarchi is thought to have assisted King Prithvi Narayan Shah in many ways in his effort to unify Nepal.

Mukarung had first tried his hands in poetry while in school during 1983. His collection of 50 poems ‘Desh Khojdai Jaanda’ was first published as a book in 1991. He considers as his literary predecessors all Nepali, Indian and western writers, most of whom he has read or read about. The progressive movement and the songs of Ramesh and Manjul influenced him as a young boy and helped develop his precocious talent. Mukarung has also written beautiful songs for which he was encouraged by his uncle Bulu Mukarung.

“Our country is rich in diversity, culture and religion that are the sources of my poems,” says Mukarung. The influence of the movement of progressive literature can be observed in the poet’s imagination. His poetry has the power to appeal to many and the capacity to attract appreciation from a diversity of readers. Writing at a time when common sensibilities are inseparably attached to issues of socio-political reforms, the poet very capably translates the sorrow, bitterness and rage rightfully acquired by universal experiences into his poems, without sacrificing his craft.