Chirag Bangdel is both a poet and an artist from Nepal. Feel free to enjoy the connection between visual art and poetry from the paintings and poetry. Chirag was one of the handful of poets who spoke English fluently, therefore, I often found myself in a group with him and the other English speaking poets in the festival restaurant, in the lobby, etc. There were often several poets chattering in various langaguages, and soon, everyone found someone who could understand them without a translator. My African girlfriends spoke French all the time, but would slow down so I could hear them or would try to translate for me. So we could hang out together even though they spoke French and I spoke English.
by Chirag Bangdel
that unifies all.
cold but just.
An equal black.
you are but for the light !
Born in 1971, Chirag Bangdel is a writer, painter and a poet. He is the author of “But to Dream” (published 1997) and “After Midnight” (published 2000). Chirag has contributed for a wide variety of magazines, papers and journals. He loves writing humor, healthy sarcasm and critical essays.
Chirag is from Nepal. On July 16, at 6:30 p.m., I had the experience of reading with Chirag at the Club Comfenalco Guayabal, Auditorio. Calle in Medellin, during the Festival. There were the usual crowd even though this was at a more affluent, suburban location. Also reading with us that evening were Nicolás Suescún of Colombia and Víctor Rodríguez Núñez of Cuba. Victor was another wonderful poet whom I got to read with and talk to during the week. After the reading that evening, we were treated to Colombian delicacies and drinks purchased by an important personality in the Medellin community. He was very excited about the reading that evening, but unfortunately, all of his excitement had to be translated by someone else, losing the excitement in the process. We were fortunate to see the difference between how the gentleman expressed himself even as he spoke Spanish as he sat there between us poets and the translators’ interpretation. Without our translators, of course, we were completely lost.
The paintings above are two of Chirag’s handiwork he sent me via the internet from Nepal, with him standing in in front of the artwork. Chirag brought along some of his paintings, and so and a few of the other poets had the pleasure of buying a work of art from Nepal. I bought one of Chirag’s art pieces at a very discounted rate (thanks to Chirag). I now have my own Nepali artwork to hang up in my living room.
The Festival allowed us to meet poets from all over the globe and to see the power of the written word and how it has impacted people around the world even as they’ve survived the many experiences within their part of the world. I had never met anyone from Nepal before meeting Chirag. Soon after we all got back to our respective countries, Chirag wrote from Nepal to tell me that the poetry Festival was so wonderful, he wants to return to Colombia, and of course, he will be welcome, I’m sure, when he returns someday. In the meantime, he is stationed in Nepal where he teaches at a school owned and run by his mother and his family. He also runs a radio program out in Napal. He spoke so much about his wonderful mother throughout the Festival, I felt like I had already met her.
More of Chirag’s art work:
Here we are on another day, relaxing after poetry reading.
Me and Colombian poet, Nicolás Suescún and his beautiful wife right after the July 21 reading at Casa Museo Fernando González. That evening, I had the honor of reading with all Latin American poets, Norberto Salinas of Costa Rica, Francisco de Asís Fernández of Nicaragua, another poet from Mexico, and of course, Nicolás Suescún of Colombia. Before and after the reading, we were served drinks and goodies and had a chance to interact with the crowd before the reading and after the usual autographing session, which was in itself another ceremony. On many nights after readings, we would autograph books, pieces of papers, or just anything people could find until our fingers hurt or at least until I was hurting. But it was wonderful to be a part of this experience.
After the reading- more photos
Koumealo (Togo), Fatou (Mali) Amed (Egypt) and Patricia (Liberia) , our panel at the closing ceremony. In the background are Fernando Redon (Festival Director and Founder), Chirag, and dozens of other poets and guests.
During the closing program on Sunday, July 22, people sat, stood, clapped, screamed, and listened for hours as one poet after the other read until the poetry reading drew out the rain and the lightning, the thunder and the umbrellas, plastic coats, pieces of boxes to cover the thousands who sat and sat and sat. Many were drenched wet, but continued to listen, some drawing closer under the eaves of the roof where we sat too, despite the thundering and the lightning. The photo above is evidence of the drenched wet hair of some of those who stood under the rain, still listening as the program that had begun at about 4:30 pm wound down past 10 pm that night.
The power of the written word is able to console, to heal, the bring strength to a weary people, and to bring about laughter even as it draws out the skies to wash down those who will not flee for shelter.
Let me conclude on a poem and another photo:
Fatoumata of Mali, Papa Suso of Gambia, and Koumealo of Togo pose for a shot soon after the closing on July 22.
This is a poetry reading, not a football match, you’re seeing right!
La tormenta (The Storm) —Spanish Version
By Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Di un paso al costado.
como un cangrejo.
en una concha.
Me oculté, una sanguijuela
debajo de una hoja verde.
Dejé de hablar
dejé de respirar
dejé de reír.
Que pasara la tormenta.
I bent down,
like a crab.
into a shell.
I hid, a leech
under a green leaf.
I quit talking
for the storm to pass.
— From Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa, (New Issues Press Poetry and Prose,
This artwork of Chirag’s is similar to his artwork I bought at the festival: