Writing and especially composing poetry has strong roots in the history of Cambodia going all the way back to the Nokor or Funan eras, but in modern times there has been a sharp decline in this area of Khmer culture.

Therefore, the Department of Books and Reading at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts organised a workshop titled “Strengthening Khmer Poetry”, which aims to preserve and develop the nation’s literature and promote the creation of Khmer poetry.

“We are organizing this workshop because we’ve been observing that Khmer poetry has three main challenges: Those composing poetry do not follow the rules of poetry. Dysfunctional sounds in that those chanting do not respect the words or syllables of each song. And the words or meaning in the poetry is not in-line with our era,” said department director Kok Ros, speaking at the workshop.

“Through competitions held for Khmer poetry by the ministry, institutions and the private sector, we have seen an increase in poetry, but the way they are using words in composing poems does not follow the rules of our Khmer ancestors. The neglect or lack of attention by Khmer writers or poets to these rules can pose the challenge of gradually losing the rules of Khmer poetry. This is an issue that experts are concerned about and focus on,” he said.

Ros added that the purpose of having this workshop is to answer some questions and show youths who want to write and develop their skills the proper way to do it. Senior writers who have won awards and done good work in the past can encourage and motivate young writers and poets with intellectual discussions that will lead to them creating new and diverse works to promote the national literature, he said.

Net Phoumary, secretary of state for the culture ministry said at the opening ceremony that: “Writers are the ones who brings peace and war to the world with their pen as a weapon without blood, only ink. Writers are the engineers of the soul and the spinners of the universe.”

“Writers are social architects who capitalize on their intellects and pens, not only in exchange for money and prestige, but leaving their wisdom embedded in their works, which is a huge contribution and great asset to humanity. Therefore, writers must have multidisciplinary knowledge and ethics to be able to create novels, poems, songs and movies,” she said.

The workshop had nearly 200 participants from the provinces, capitals and institutions. There were many speakers sharing their thoughts on topics such as the progress and challenges in Khmer poetry, the art of creating abstraction in Khmer poetry, methods of composing Khmer poetry, the superiority of modern poetry, methods of composing Khmer poetry and songs and the sharing of knowledge and experiences by Indra Devi award winners.