Sou Khemarin looks back on 20 years of service to Khmer literature

Sou Khemarin credits family influences and a personal passion for writing as the main inspirations for his poetry and his teaching career as a lecturer at the provincial teacher training school in Kampong Thom.

Particularly handsome, Khemarin said his goal with his writing has always been to try to reflect the realities of life in modern Cambodia and to use his voice to make an original contribution to the national literature as best he can. something he has been trying to do for 20 years. years now.

The soft-spoken Khemarin – nicknamed “Pakkaram” – was born in 1986 in commune 9 of Stung Sen town in Kampong Thom province.

“There are two main reasons why I became a writer. The first is due to family factors, because I grew up in a household where I had a father who liked to read a lot of books and he started telling me stories from a very young age, when I was too young to read by myself. . I particularly liked the stories from before the Pol Pot era.

“The second reason is simply because I devoted myself to reading and writing, which increased my desire to see what I wrote being read by others in various compositional formats such as poetry, short stories , song lyrics and so on… That’s what inspired me to become a writer and produce important work from an early age,” he said.

After graduating from Kampong Thom High School in 2003, Khemarin enrolled at Kampong Cham Regional Teacher Training Center as a student from 2004 to 2006 and then started working as a teacher at Morak Secondary School in the province of Kampong Thom.

Then in 2010-2011, Khemarin received further training in pedagogy at the National Institute of Education, then became a teacher at Hun Sen Tbeng High School in Bakong Village of Tbeng Commune in Kampong Svay District of Kampong Thom province until 2015 when he started his present. post of lecturer in a training institution in Kampong Thom similar to that of Kampong Cham where he had received his first initiation into teaching.

“I started writing in 2001 when I was in 10th grade at Kampong Thom High School, but my first serious work was Sne Krom Dom Nork Teuk Pnek (Love under the drops of water), a novel that I wrote in 2005 and which was published in 2008.

“In 2013, I received a certificate of recognition as an outstanding young writer from the PEN Cambodia Association,” Khemarin told the Post, adding that he has been a member of the Khmer Writers Association since 2006.

Remarkably, in the year 2008, five Sou Khemarin novels were published: the aforementioned Sne Krom Dom Nork Teuk Pnek with Rong Cham Pka Rik (Waiting for a Blooming Flower), Kizuna Songsa Knhom (Kizuna, my darling), Prot Sne Kbe Stung Sen (Parting from Love Near Stung Sen) and At Kam Bang Pro Pun Khnom (My Wife’s Secret).

In 2015, Khemarin began to explore other literary formats with his published work with the poem Kmas Chke, the short story series titled Yub Ana Mek published in 2017, and the poem book Teuk Kmao Lving published in 2020.

Khemarin also wrote popular songs such as Mek Ery! Chan Ery!, written in 2014 and performed by Yung Yun; Mon Sne Se Kong performed by Un Masly and written in 2015; and Rumduol Leap Tong performed by Chin Vathana and written in 2021.

“Of all my works that have been written so far, my favorites are probably the poem Kmas Chke, my short story series Yub Ana Mek, and the poem Teuk Kmao Lving,” he said.

Even though Khemarin has over two decades of experience writing many well-received works in a wide range of formats and genres, that doesn’t mean he’s never encountered obstacles in his career as an actor. writer or that he does not continue until today.

“For me, there are two major challenges in this career. The first is when I have written something but I don’t know who will publish it, although with the social networks now available like Facebook or YouTube, promoting my work is no longer a problem.

“Secondly, the traditional way of composing Khmer literature seems to me as distant as the edge of the horizon. Modern literature requires the writer to be able to absorb the experiences he has had and put them back on the page to show the reality of society.

“I did not expect composing these works to make my life easier, because writing is expensive – both in terms of time and money – while publishing these works can never reach break even and often lose money,” Khemarin said.

By comparing the writing of the present and the past, such as during the Sangkum era just before the cultural bonfire lit by the Democratic Kampuchea regime, Khemarin believes that – in terms of the depth of work done – pre-Khmer literature rouge was deeper and more complex, whether in novels, poems or lyrics.

“The fundamental issue for the writer is the freedom offered by the tip of the pen or the possibilities offered by the blank page. You can say anything – so what exactly should you say? Writers can champion social issues or fight battles with nothing but ink. They must understand that they have a role to play in reflecting the realities of life, which means they must avoid the frivolity of “just for fun” literary works.

“The writer shouldn’t ride on a donkey and then try to call it a horse. They should do what I’ve always tried to do myself, which is fight to adopt writing at the literature department and strive to express real emotion through those drops of ink,” Khemarin advised.

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