Pol Pisey: Legend of Khmer Literature on His Legacy


Following in the footsteps of his father – who passed on his lineage as a poet to him – combined with a passion for reading all kinds of books and a keen interest in the film industry that began during his childhood are what inspired Pol Pisey to become a writer. . More of a vocation than a career most of the time, she has been doing it for almost 50 years now.

Currently, Pisey is the vice-president of the Khmer Writers Association as well as a composition teacher for some of the association’s courses and a well-known independent novelist and staunch supporter of Khmer literature.

Pisey was born in Prek Sleng commune of Kandal Stung district of Kandal province. She discovered that she had a gift for writing poetry just like her father when she was young and was educated and brought up to love reading and writing.

Sometimes these lessons came directly from his father, Chap Rith, a teacher and poet who was a member of Krom Chumnum Tumneam Tumlorb Khmer at the Buddhist Institute in the 1960s.

Today, in the midst of a life devoted to writing, the 64-year-old Pisey’s body of work includes novels, short stories, poetry collections, screenplays, songs, storybooks for children, illustrated books and his own autobiographical stories or memoirs, all of which have won numerous awards. for decades.

Pisey credits her father’s influence for launching her into a career as a writer before she even understood what it meant.

“I started writing poetry at the age of eight, although I didn’t know any of the rules behind it. In 1969, I started writing short novels. In 1972, my poetry was recited in the Khmer poetry program broadcast on the national radio.

“My first two novels in 1973 were Chom Norng Dai Teuk Phnek and the second was Kamrong Sne Kam, which was handwritten, and I still have the original manuscript today,” she recalls.

Pisey said her childhood was extremely bookish, and the only hobbies she pursued with any real enthusiasm focused on language use and creativity.

“Since childhood, I loved to read everything, including novels, poetry, magazines, academic research, newspapers, manuscripts, etc.,” she said. “I also liked to listen to the programs broadcast on the national radio – whether it was soap operas or the news or the latest songs.”

Pisey also had a keen interest in film as an art form, another legacy of his father’s influence.

“I’ve always had a great interest in movies ever since I started watching them as a kid. I would visit film sets with my dad and see them act out the scenes in person, and then I’d compare more late that to what the camera captured,” she said.

Pisey also credits her affinity for writing to her dedication to practicing active listening and observing the world around her from an early age and she said she believes this is what had made him become a writer, the only one of his five siblings to take after his father in this regard.

However, she said that when she was young, she wanted to be an archaeologist because of her love for ancient temples and statues, but unfortunately she never made it as her father wanted her to become a doctor.

Despite years of writing experience and having won numerous awards for her diverse and varied career, Pisey said there are both challenges and rewards that come with her career as a writer and she advises the next generation of writers to learn, to experiment, and to aim to surpass what past generations have done.

“The life of a writer is always one that comes up against so many obstacles. Failure was more frequent than success. However, we must persevere and keep trying. Monitor everything that is happening around you every day so that you can give an accurate impression of it. Be creative while writing stories that reflect the reality of our current society. If people can relate to your writing, you will attract readers.

“A single writer who writes a work that satisfies tens of thousands of people, no matter how good it is, it cannot escape a few flaws, it cannot be perfect, and it cannot please everyone, because each person has their own unique heart,” she says.

Pisey recognizes that becoming a writer was also a kind of honored life for which the writer is recognized by the general public around him and they have the opportunity to participate in the growth of the national literary culture and to reciprocate and show their gratitude to all. ancient writers, poets and ancestors.

“The benefit for the writer is leaving a personal legacy and gaining the peace of mind that comes with it. It also provides an opportunity to share their knowledge with the next generation, especially when you have many people supporting you. , you and your art. . It makes us proud and happy when we hear people appreciate our work, just like anyone else,” she said.

Pisey said that other benefits of a career as a writer are the opportunities to go abroad, meet foreign writers and share experiences with them and introduce them to the Khmer ancestral heritage as it constitutes a special part of national literature.

“But sometimes there is a lot of pressure to produce or to excel. Writing takes time to get right, but readers want everything fast, like breaking news, and if a book comes out late, it disappoints them,” she added.

As science and technology have continued to advance, everything in society is also changing just as rapidly and the changes that have been observed in reading habits, such as whether or how many people read and what they prefer among those who do, keep changing. .

Pisey said she thinks most young readers like to read something fast, hot, fast – and most books are ultimately written to suit their potential readers.

For example, in the past the intro to the story or the first act was usually much longer and then it went into the main action or the plot, but now the intro to the story is non-existent and it immediately goes straight into the main narrative, and writers today no longer use parables to the extent that Khmer writing and storytelling have traditionally relied on them.

“In my opinion, as writers, we have to be flexible and adapt to the times. But we must not forget what our ancestral heritage is. It’s good to know how to mix the old and the new,” she said.

Pisey notes that when she started writing there weren’t many other female writers – only a very small percentage – but now there are large numbers of female writers and there are many outstanding works by women. and many successors to these works.

She notes that currently Khmer female writers seemed to focus on realism and collect real-life stories that take place in society and fictionalize them.

“It shows that women have a clear understanding of their role and know how to use their courage and freedoms to come forward and show the positive and negative things of life as a modern woman and do so with the utmost fairness.

“What’s special for me as a writer is the opportunity to uncover the secrets that, in the past, some women didn’t dare to tell and instead used elements of the story to attract attention. attention of readers and point out to them this other layer of meaning.

“I have determined in my heart from the start that no one knows more about women than women do. If women writers don’t promote equal rights and freedoms for women, then who will?”

Pisey explains that almost all of her writings have consistently emphasized the value of encouraging women to overcome obstacles in pursuit of life’s freedoms.

“My heart and my brain registered and retained my father’s golden words: do not borrow their breath to breathe – although you are a woman, you are a human being first – and you must live from your own sweat and your own strength.” Pisey quoted.

Pol Pisey has received numerous awards over the decades, publishing acclaimed work by one organization or another in a steady, almost unbroken stream from the post-Khmer Rouge era into the 1980s, with awards majors awarded to him in 1987, 1991, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2018 – and this is almost certainly an incomplete account of his honours.

“According to the laws of nature, the bamboo shoot always grows and becomes bamboo. It is no different from human beings who – from generation to generation – are the sources of their own successors. Through them, we can bestow immortality on our people and the soul of our ancient culture,” Pisey said.

Pisey said she tries to always remember that she has a duty to those who came before her, starting with her father but going back through the ages following the line of her ancestors, including the Angkorian era, giving him equal duty. she feels to legendary figures like Queen Indradevi, the most famous scholar in Khmer history.

“As a writing lover, I’m happy to see so many successors and to see that the work of these new writers is so advanced. What we writers should do is broaden our knowledge and strengthen our thinking so that our Khmer culture and literature never die. No matter how things turn out, every piece of writing should reflect the cultural traditions and customs of our ancestors and should include the elements of our national identity for the world to know… Don’t forget the taste, the smell or the true colors of our nation.

“And don’t forget the old saying, ‘the immature rice stalk stands up, while the mature stalk – heavy with grain – bends down,'” Pisey concluded.


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