Dr (PHD) Rinzin Rinzin, talks to Business Bhutan’s Reporter Nidup Lhamo about receiving the SAARC Literature Award during the 63rd Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL) Literature Festival at the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, New Delhi, on March 27, 20231.
Congratulations on winning the 63rd FOSWAL Festival Award 2023. What does an award mean to you?
To me, an award means, on the one hand, a reassurance that I am on track and, on the other, a reminder to continue to love and enjoy what I do.
2. Can you tell me about the background of this award? How does one qualify for the award?
The SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Literature Award is conferred once in a while (not annually) to selected writers from the SAARC member countries to recognize their exceptional contributions to the promotion and development of literature in South Asia.
Awardees are nominated from SAARC member countries based on their consistent and exceptional contributions to literature by FOSWAL.
3. When did you venture into the literary world, and who is your inspiration?
I wrote nine creative stories based on Bhutanese tradition, culture, and norms in 2000, while I was pursuing postgraduate studies at the University of Melbourne, since I missed home. I had them published as a collection of short stories (The Talisman of Good Fortune and Other Stories from Rural Bhutan) in 2002.
Bhutan’s most prominent writer, Ashi Kunzang Choden inspired me to write culturally relevant (Bhutanese) stories; otherwise, I was always inspired by writers to write.
4. With these awards, how do you want to inspire the youth in our country?
I have received a few other similar awards, too. But all I have been able to do thus far is post them on Facebook and keep on writing and winning more awards with the hope that ‘maybe, these things will inspire literary enthusiasts, especially youth, to write’.
5. Are you working on anything new these days?
Since I work for three organizations (Bhutan Transparency Initiative (BTI), Bhutan Civil Society Network (BCSN), and Bhutan Country Coordinating Mechanism for Global Fund (Bhutan CCM) these days, I am not able to commit much time for larger literary projects like doing a novel. Thus, I write a lot of poems. I have compiled a book of haiku (5-7-5), which I am planning to publish within the next two months. I also have an illustrated children’s book ready to be published. And, as and when I get time, I am also compiling a book of my own poems.
6. Any other comments?
There are many talented writers, especially among our children and youth. We have the potential to produce a number of internationally acclaimed literary figures. Nevertheless, we need to groom the enthusiasts and the talented and keep the established ones motivated. In the absence of any support, appreciation, or recognition from the State for literature and literary enthusiasts, as has been the case thus far, our country and the people may not be able to get far in the field of literature. We need strong policy if Bhutan is to develop its literature. We must be mindful that art, architecture, and literature reflect how civilized a society/country is. A country like ours, which is aspiring for a happy society, cannot ignore literature.