Nepal | January 15, 2021

Book Review: A moon aiming for a brighter orbit

Prof Achyut Wagle
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The redness of otherwise generally creamy, white or yellow moon may symbolise many, virtually any emotional-mental state of a beholder. Anxiety about the world or about personal freedom, angst, certainly could manifest into seeing this uncharacteristic hue of the moon, which incidentally is one of the four key themes in the anthology of poems and letters, the ‘Red Moon’, by an aspiring young poet Prashasti Aryal.

Other three themes in the anthology are complexities, strength and longing. Also, there are five emotion-laden letters intertwined among the beads of the not necessarily rhyming poems.

Aryal exudes very mature, emotional, personal, social, and to a great extent philosophical craftiness in her writings, which indeed are unbelievably beyond what one would expect from a young writer. Letters in the anthology, more often that not, seem more expressive than the poems, and complement the themes well. The poems, nonetheless, are not less powerful. The shorter ones strike like thunderbolt with their instant ability to communicate.

She picks up the theme of gender inequality very boldly. Her verdict is:

God is partial.
He isn’t unprejudiced
He makes some suffer,
And gives happiness to those who already have it. (pg129).

The use of themes and reminiscences, reflexive aesthetics of both transitional and transcendental emotional outbursts, perhaps akin to evolving psychology of a curious adolescent, lineup as musical orchestra. The following however is a rather dramatic than smooth transition in nerves:

Strike One.

Strike Two.

Strike Three. Player Out.

On transcendental domain, the poet asks, what is faith? And, reconciles not with allegiance to God but declares, ‘faith is believing in you’.

The maiden effort to see her creations in the shape of a book are appreciable. Besides, quality of the poems and essays I would say, which she has baptized as letters, definitely deserve a larger audience. This could be catered only through a systematic publication. This anthology certainly exhibit a new promise for her as a poet in particular, and for Nepal’s literary spectrum in general.

But, for a very young aspiring author like Aryal, it is important first to identify the genre in which she finds herself better expressive of her thoughts, ideas, and emotions. Poems, for most of the poets are like a momentous spark of lightening. This is transient, powerful and inexpressive at the same intensity that hammers in the creator’s mind primarily for lack of or instant availability of words of the same weight and horizon.

This — I call it a poetic predicament — is apparent in her writings as well. In addition to genre, the way of writing with an aim to develop a signature style, and treatment of theme, are other equally important spheres, which no aspiring author can afford to ignore. For example, if the short poems express the creator better, they can be a long-term forte of their writings instead of experimenting with everything impulsive; from longer poems to essay-like flows. Patience to re-calibrate them without diluting both — the meaning and aesthetics, will remain critical, literally forever.

It is though a generic trend not only applicable to any new author — two key pragmatic lacunae paralyse Nepali literary scope, specifically to the novice creators of the art and literature. First is the complete absence of a culture of literary editing of the creative writings, amateur or professional. I assume that a professional editorial input to the ‘Red Moon’ too would have added some more brightness in exposition.

The need and benefit of such ‘creative editing’ can never be overestimated. Second, Nepal gravely lacks institutions, academic or otherwise, to provide training on creative writing with specialisation on dedicated genres like poetry, story, essay, or novel; particularly for those who have interest, inclination and innate ability to become a polished and professional author.

In absence of these supportive structures and mechanisms, a lot of potential authors give up early in pretext of taking up careers with ‘gainful’ earnings or for their inability to explore more captivating style to attract or retain reasonable number of readers and audience in the long run.

Budding poets like Aryal deserve that future space among English writers in Nepal and has every right to flourish.

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