Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A bid to revive Khmer verse



A bid to revive Khmer verse

Puy Kea
Puy Kea Hong Menea

A bid to revive Khmer verse

When Puy Kea was a teenager, he often listened to his parents and teachers reciting the poetry of Krom Ngoy, known as the father of Khmer poetry.

Ngoy, who was born in 1864 and died in 1936, was considered a talented wordsmith and renowned for his skill playing the kse diev, a traditional one-stringed instrument.

The Bondam Krom Ngoy, a collection of Ngoy’s verse published by the Buddhist Institute, is considered a repository of Khmer wisdom. It contains all kinds of advice about how to lead a good life, for parents, children, married couples, workers and even monks.

But when Kea went to look for the book, the only copy he could find was at the Buddhist Institute in poor quality and written in Pali and Sanskrit.

“It was hard to read because of the paper and the language,” the journalist and academic said this week.

Concerned that Ngoy’s wisdom was going to waste, Kea decided to publish a new collection of the poet’s work himself, compiling and translating fragments into a 100-page tome.

“I spent more than a year researching and collecting documents from different publications, checking spellings and meanings because sometimes people wouldn’t understand what he meant,” Kea said.

“I love all of the advice and I want to share it,” he said added. “For example, his advice on education: ‘If you want [life] to be easy, study hard and money will run to you.’”

Kea said 10,000 copies of the new edition of Bondam Krom Ngoy have been printed, with about 4,000 to be donated to university, pagoda and school libraries, and the rest on sale for $3 at bookshops.

“Although some Cambodian children don’t have a culture of reading, I do hope that they start to read their favourite book like this poem book for pleasure,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Hun Sen: Manet to be candidate for prime minister

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed that his oldest son Hun Manet will be his successor as Prime Minister if he is elected. Speaking during the inauguration of a new sewage treatment facility in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said Manet will be