Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Kelzang Dawa, 38, dropped out after class eight. He is today a professional driver with Bhutan Power Corporation and is a poetry aficionado. He has to his name 2,900-something poems.

Not many know of him but that did not bother him, he said.

“I will continue writing poems.”

Three months ago Kelzang published a collection of his poems called “Wisdom Poems”. The book contains about 40 poems.

On December 25, about 40 participants, mostly students, attended a day-long writers’ conference in Phuentsholing. Some writers from Assam, West Bengal, and Odisha, who are members of the South Asian Literature, also attended the conference.

One writer and a poetry enthusiast from India, Ratan Ghosh, said to the young Bhutanese writers should not write to become famous.

“Write to become eternal,” he said.

He said he did not consider himself as a poet yet.

“There are millions of poets in the world. But only a few survive.”

There was a need, he added, to write more about the pressing issues in the society.

Pema Lhamo Sherpa, a BSc sustainable development student from College of Natural Resources, said her love for books and writing started early on with bedtime stories that her father read to her. She has written more than 40 stories so far.

Prena Subba, 17, is a class XII graduate. She started writing when she was eight.

“Each time I wrote something, I understood the world better,” said the teenager from Samtse High School.

Her first poem was an ode to her parents. Friends and relative told her there was no future in writing and took criticisms in her stride.

“Wonder what the world would be like without poetry,” Prena Subba said, who writes mostly about women empowerment.

Prena shared a verse she penned about a paradox in today’s society—about mother telling her daughters to stay indoors, while her sons roamed freely and became beasts.

“I am a science student, but writing is my passion and will remain forever,” Prena Subba said.

Kelzang Dawa said aspiring writers in Bhutan lacked support. “Many say there is no scope for writers and poets in Bhutan due to lack of readership.”

The conference banner read: “Writers’ of Bhutan”. It drew comments of kinds on social media.