Emerging Young Poet: YENG Chheangly

July 20, 2015

YENG.photoYENG Chheangly (b. 1988 in Kandal province) now lives in Phnom Penh.  He is active in the new poetry movement in Cambodia and assists in a number of poetry projects now under development. His goal is to publish a bilingual collection of his poems: Khmer and English.  Below is a sample of his latest poems in English translation.




December 23, 2013

“Writing Tour To Chombok Community”

“Zuihitisu Poem”

January 29, 2013

Contemporary Poetry: Contemporary Life—Random Jottings

 Facilitator:  Jeanne Morel

Written By: Soam Davine

Zuihitisu is a classical Japanese form that has been translated as “following the brush” or “random jottings.” The poet gathers anecdotes, impressions, overheard conversations, lists, proverbs, etc. In this way the form mirrors the mind as it jumps this way and that.

P’chum Bun

On the way to the pagoda I saw broken roads, old cows, and farmers.

The morning was green, black, blue—            my heart was here and there.

I remember the view and the bright sun shining in the countryside.


My mother used to tell me— step by step—


I was hot and thirsty under in the sun, yet fresh with the voice of laughing,

fresh with the sound of my family and birds.

The rock mountain and trees said hello to me.


I touched a leaf, smooth with moisture, smooth with nature.

I put my toes put into the cold waterfall—    wonderful from the high mountain.

On the road back, smiling faces with all my family members, I saw a lot of sellers along the road

in the night time.

—Wisdom everywhere for who wants to gain it from the nature around you.



Today is not yesterday…

June 27, 2012

Today is not yesterday…

Free verse poem in English by Hang Borin (June 6, 2012)

Today is not yesterday,
     yesterday is not today.
Blue is blue,
     not red or yellow.
And tomorrow
     is different from this time.

This Monday is not the Monday
     that you saw last week.
This Monday will go away
     and maybe you will get sick,
     maybe you will die or not die,
     who can know?
I say that there is something
     behind you.
You can go,
     go can come;
     come can stay,
if today is not your death.
Nary told me that her mother was crying.
She is old,
     cannot walk but still can cry.
She is 96,
     not yet dead.
She is sorry to hear
     that her son has died.
He is dead before his mother.
Now it is your turn to be dead.
Don't be afraid
     because your life is not your possession.
For me as well,
     tomorrow is still coming.
Today is Sunday,
     but not the Sunday you saw before.
I can take you, 
     or your friends or parents
     to the gates of death.
So do not think!
Come see your soul's journey!!

Peauladd HUY

Peauladd Huy was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She had just turned eight
when Phnom Penh was taken over by the Khmer Rouge. At the time, she was
living with her family in Battambang. They had just moved there about 
five months earlier due to her father’s job.  Both of her parents were 
killed during the Pol Pot regime. She wrote this poem to reconnect, in a
sense, with Cambodia, to a family past of happier times. She has not 
been back to Cambodia, yet.

1)   Life—A Step Back

Your white hair cropped short,
In surrender to your Buddhist belief 
And for your loss 
Of your husband, from long ago ...

You sat
And hunched over,
Knees drawn high, 
From bended legs,
In the circle of your frail arms.

Your hands, 
Unsteady by age,
Wrinkled by wisdom,
And stained by brown blotches of life, 
Rattled noisily inside the silver bowl.

You brought an undersized mortar and pestle,
Stained blackish-brown,
On the tip and in the cavity.

Your knobby,
Line-etched fingers
Trembled softly,
Like the breeze-stirred leaves.
They shredded,
And then dropped 
Small pieces of beetle nut, 
A pinch of pink-wet paste,
A tiny bunch of tobacco, 
And other ingredients
Into the mortar, custom-made.

One hand,
Covered the opening of the mortar, partially,
While another, shaking slightly,
Gripped the petite pestle --
Then, smashed-smashed-and-smashed with frail force.
And, with a tiny-dainty,
Silver spoon,
You scoped out,
So preciously,
The contents,
A small moistened glop,
With belabored,
Wobbly hand,
You dropped the mushy paste,
Onto the heart-shaped leaf,
Held in your other wavering hand. 

Forever in slow movements,
Like movie frames turned in slow motion,
You rolled the leaf into a bundle,
An anticipated concoction.

At last, with her old hand
Shaking rhythmically,
She held the bundle up.
With a grin of gums 
And a wrinkled face, 
She said to her small granddaughter, 
“This is how you do it.”

To one side of her aged mouth,
She placed the bundle with care,
In the far back of her jaw.

Her toothless gums 
Clenched tight onto the bundle 
And chewed slowly …
With a savored pleasure.

While sitting in the traditional manner,
Following along,
Was her granddaughter, 
From the city for a visit,
Perhaps, four or five years of age.

Two silhouettes ... hunched over
The silver container 
With fruits and leaves, filigreed;
Nestled smaller silver boxes and bowls,
With items for her recipe.

In the background,
Framed by the doorway,
The sun, 
Radiant and red-orange,
Readied to set
Behind the thinned-out forest and 
The field of gold-greenish rice, that
Swayed in oscillated waves
As the winds came … and went.

The two figures,
Silhouetted by the light of the sunset,
Absorbed by the immediate task,
Noticed not the beauty on yonder.

Grandmother and granddaughter sat,
One taught ... while one absorbed.

Even natural beauty,
Breaks not the bond of 
Importance ... of life.