Wednesday, September 7, 2011


From the time that I heard that poetry was a quarter of the syllabus in schools here I have had doubts that I could teach it well. Despite having loved it at school myself and having written poetry all through my high school and college years, I was not at all sure that I could inspire interest in it in Bhutanese students. Thankfully none of my efforts in those days were ever offered up for publication and these days few of my high school musings exist anymore.  The paltry examples I stumbled upon when packing up our house before leaving Australia are something of an embarrassment and I am glad I kept them to myself. 

However in the past few months I have read a lot of student written poetry in addition to the course material and once again written a few pieces of my own, thinking 'Well if they can, I can too.' Given that this is now the second post on the topic of poetry I guess those doubts are still with me but I am persisting.

The concept of alliteration didn't seem to be getting through to many of my students so recently I was inspired to motivate them with an attempt of my own. I chose my Bhutanese students as my first subject as I have seen from the incredible popularity of photographs of themselves that the adolescent ego knows no bounds. Of course they respect and value anything that we do for them and even more so when the textbook is laid aside for a moment, so my feeble efforts met with applause and bouts of dictionary searching when I left each class with a single hard copy.

Perhaps readers of this will hold much less appreciative views but I figured I would throw caution to the wind and post my efforts and see if any comments are forthcoming. I am expecting "don't give up your day job!" But what do you think?

Bhutanese Boarders

Bored with boarding,
Bunking and rule breaking,
Brimming with the bright bravado of bachelorhood,
Blessed, bullied and beaten,
But not brazen, bewildered or broken,
    are our boarder boys.

Grumbling with grievances,
Greeting and grooming,
Guiltily gutsy and game for good gatherings,
Gracious, gregarious and grateful,
Guarded and giggling but never garish,
   are our guru-guided girls.

 This second effort was an attempt to describe our first 2 weeks in Bhutan and perhaps other BCFers can relate it it. 

Destination or destiny? Dreaming of Druk Yul,

Entering the Land of the Thunder Dragon, early but elated,
Energised by months of anticipation, preparation and expectation,
Enthralled by the exciting extremes of custom and tradition,
Enchanted by evergreen environments and easy engagement,
Engrossed in perfecting protocol and elegant etiquette,
Enthused and accepting a unique, educational experiment.

                        Eastward ho!

Fearful of falling: steep ravines with treacherous switchbacks,
Festooned passes, startled fauna and prayer flags fluttering,
Feigning nonchalance as imminent and unpredictable futures loom,
Feelings fluctuating: elated and exhausted by turns,
Frequent and fond farewells depleting Dorji's passengers,
Final destinations featuring more uncertainty and fluidity.

Given that tomorrow is International Literacy Day this maybe a timely post and we should perhaps follow it up with the short story on the theme of "The Dignity of Work"that Ian wrote for his classes.

NB All the photos are of Rangjung students but most, not all are boarders. The sentiments are true for day scholars too but they just didn't get a look in for alliteration's sake!

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