My Reflection on Birgunj Conference

Kanokon  Opasmongkonchai

Thailand

One of my great experiences which I’d like to share with you was to attend the conference that took place in Birgunj, Nepal on 12 -13 March 2013. It was Asian English Teachers’ Creative Writing Conference (2013), in which apart from gaining knowledge from expert creative writers, Prof.Alan Maley, Prof. Jayakaran Mukundan, Dr Kirk Branch, Prof. Dr. Govinda Raj Bhattarai, Dr. Vishnu Singh Rai and other scholars, I also obtained friendship with warm hospitality, as well as Nepalese cultural learning.

In fact, I had been there in Birgunj in a team four days before the conference. We had a three-day pre-conference session of only core group members. In the session I got acquainted with some new faces. We shared our poems and stories and had peer-editing that offered an ample opportunity to understand and learn how uniquely we take up creativity. The second day was much more memorable. We had a trip to Trikhandi on a bus. It was about three hours to the south of Birgunj. There I saw mountains stand very close all around and a clean stream rush down. I felt it special for getting intimacy with nature. We were there to empower our creative writing being close to nature. We all carried some stones of our choice and I brought back a heart-shaped one. On the third day we had a great time sharing our poems and stories that we had composed on the stones we had carried. It was of the greatest significance, since we had penned what we had observed on our field trip. It gave us another but the most crucial lesson how to find our surroundings in our literary work.

It was on March 12, the first day of the conference after the key speech by Prof. Alan Maley and a plenary session by Dr. Kirk Branch, I had a paper to present in one of the buildings of a nearby college. I was delighted to have about 35 participants to join the creative writing activity with me “Using a Picture to Stimulate Creative Writing.” I was very much impressed by participants who paid a great attention to the activity. While making a presentation, I wondered if the picture would be too difficult for them to write on or not. But, with their abilities and talents, it was obvious that they could write poems and short stories rapidly and colorfully, indeed.

Here are some of the poems on the pictures that they composed during the session and that I would love to share with you hoping that you may also try writing:

My Heart Says  

Oh, Dear
You look as fresh as dew
I don’t have many words to say
But only few
You are the old one for others
But in my sight, you are always new
I am the sky, you are my moon
When I see you, I forget the morning or noon
I have devoted my heart to someone and that is you
No matter you love me or not
But dear, really I love you

(Krishna Chaudhary)

Mona Lisa’s Change  

Oh, Mona Lisa
Pure and pretty woman
You’re born in a palace
And you end in the Mc Donald’s
Why you change your life?
I know well, my Mona
You don’t like the servants
You just wish a coca- cola!

(By Spanish participant)

……………………………….

What eyes she has,

What eyes!

It’s hardly a surprise

That millions have looked into them –

She looks so calm and wise.

But if, by some strange chance

We passed with a quick glance

Today,

Would we even spare the time

To ask her for a dance?

Or simply walk away?

(Alan)

………

And my friendly souvenir to you:

Let’s Smile!

Nothing to pay
When you smile.
So, let’s smile.

Something you gain
Is friendship
Hope
Joy
Peace
So, let’s smile.

Anything makes you pain,
Forget it awhile.
So, let’s smile.
Smile! Smile! Smile!
(Kanokon Opasmongkonchai)

Pictures used in the workshop:

Picture1

To my mind, participants were quite active and confident of doing the activity with me. They had proudly presented their writings. It was very nice that they had different views-points to write, so it made the workshop more interesting, making me feel that they could secure their own space for potential writers to grow out of them! Best Wishes!!

After the paper presentations on the first day, we got back to the Town Hall to observe the cultural program held by cute school boys and girls. Several times they got me to feel like singing and dancing next to them. They sang songs and danced so well that I couldn’t at all feel how swiftly time had flown away. I also learnt about the diverse cultures in the country through their dresses.

On the second day just before the closing ceremony we had another literary taste. It was a poetry recitation. Several participants including Prof. Maley, Dr. Branch, Prof. Bhattarai, Dr. Rai recited their poems in different languages – English, Nepali, Bhojpuri, Maithili, etc. Although I could not understand the poems in the languages other than in English, yet I could perceive their elegance through the ways they were recited. It was really a good example of multi-lingual harmony in Nepal.

In my view, creative writing is the best challenge to accept if you are learning to write. It requires a great deal of patience as well as love to do that. Maybe love should come first. Self-discipline to practice writing with figurative languages together with observing things around us deeply and correctly with imagination is a very important qualification of being a good creative writer. It is certain that it gives us pain when the idea doesn’t come out and in particular when we write in English, which is not our mother tongue. But, when the good result ripens, I dare say it’s worth it, indeed!

Before taking leave, what I am feeling now is:

Loneliness is…

Loneliness

Is

Fungus:

It’s fast to grow

It’s hard to heal

Its root

Is too deep

To eradicate

And

Ready

To come back

Terrible!

(Kanokon  Opasmongkonchai)

Stay in touch to ward off the feeling of loneliness.

Cheerio!

2 comments

  • Ram

    Yes, of course this article seems a unique one since it has covered poems and pictures. It has brought a newness in the article and it is an effort to make us learn the way of amalgamating several items in blog. Really, this sort of article helps teachers be creative and self motivated. International Conference of Creative Writing and its brief explanation in this article also is praiseworthy. The poem entitled ”Mona Lisa’s Change” touched my heart.

    • Thank you kindly for your thoughtful words, Ram. I am delighted at perceiving that this presentation can stimulate your creative writing. I have to thank all of the participants, organizers and editors to help me complete this task and all wonderful activities in Birgunj. Regards

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