4 Of The Thai Most Popular Male Poets Of All Times

Thai most popular male poets of all times

I’m pretty sure I was once told, or at least once read somewhere, that I would only be truly fluent in the Thai language when I understood Thai poetry. This probably has something to do with the fact that historically, Thailand’s poetry had little or no influence from Western styles. It was the only form of imaginative literary work written down in the Thai language before the 19th Century.

So here’s a look at a few of the Thai most popular male poets of all times; in case you too want to achieve true fluency in Thai.

Sunthorn Phu

To kick off this poetic journey, we must begin with the revered figure of Sunthorn Phu, often referred to as the “Shakespeare of Thailand.” Born on 17 June 1786 during the reign of King Rama I, at around 8 in the morning, Sunthorn Phu’s works are celebrated for their profound emotional depth and their vivid descriptions of life in 19th-century Thailand. His magnum opus, “Phra Aphai Mani,” tells the epic tale of a young prince and his romantic adventures through various kingdoms, with a blend of traditional Thai folk stories, traditional Thai culture, and a dash of Thai mythology.

King Rama II adored Sunthorn’s poetry so much so that he bestowed on him a noble title (that he was stripped of under King Rama III after correcting a royal poem in public). After a stint as a monk and a merchant following his fall from favor, King Rama IV’s daughter, who was a fan of Sunthorn’s writing, asked him to finally complete “Phra Aphai Mani.” He did and was rewarded with the position of Director of Royal Scribes by the king.

What truly sets Sunthorn Phu apart from other Thai poets is his accessibility. His poetry captures the essence of everyday life in Thailand, allowing readers to connect with ordinary joys, sorrows, and aspirations through his fantastical works.

Thai sculptures

King Rama II

King Rama II, whose birth name was Prince Isarasundhorn, ascended to the throne in 1809 and remained there until 1824. He is remembered not only for his royal duties but also for his contributions to Thai classical literature. His reign was known as the Golden Age of Rattanakosin Literature, and he was responsible for elevating the works of Sunthorn Phu, as we have seen.

While his reign was marked by the political turmoil of the previous reign, King Rama II’s poems provided an artistic escape, and they continue to captivate readers with their gentle, romantic themes. He even managed to revise the Ramayana / Ramakien, a very long poem of Indian origin celebrating the adventures of Phra Rama.

Angkarn Kalayanapong

Angkarn Kalayanapong, a contemporary Thai poet born in 1960, started making a name for himself when he began writing poetry as a high school student. His poetry was initially criticized for moving too far away from classical Thai forms and using language that was too raw. Angkarn has since come to be recognized as the model of Thai modern poetry.

Among his famous works are Lamnam Phu Kradueng (Phu Kradueng song) and Nirat Nakhon Si Thammarat (Nakhon Si Thammarat Travelogue), both published in 1969. Angkarn’s ability to blend traditional poetic forms with modern sensibilities has earned him acclaim both in Thailand and on the international stage. He was awarded the National Artist of Thailand title in 1989 and won the S.E.A. Write Award (Southeast Asian Writers Award), in 1986.

Tang Chang

Born in 1934 to poor Chinese parents in Thonburi outside Bangkok, Tang Chang began his artistic life using chalk and charcoal he found on the streets to create crude works of art. Later, he managed to use his wages to buy paint, pencils, and paper and set up a market stall where he would create portraits. During the 1950s, he began experimenting with gestural abstraction paintings, but even though he was managing to get his works into exhibitions, the Thai audiences weren’t quite ready.

In 1968, at the age of 34, Tang Chan published a book featuring his ‘concrete poems,’ and unlike his artwork, these poems dealing with personal and social themes became something of a hit in the counterculture world of the time.

Chang will be long remembered for deliberately placing himself outside the traditional art world, often refusing to profit from his works and preferring to support himself and his family through alternative means.

Graffiti about poems

Legacy Of The Thai Most Popular Male Poets Of All Times

The legacy of Thai male poets is a testament to the depth and diversity of Thai literature and epic poems. From the classical elegance of Sunthorn Phu and his patron and poet King Rama II to the modern innovations of artists like Tang Chan, each poet has added his unique layer to Thai culture and storytelling.

Learn Thai With The Ling App And Write Your Own Thai Poetry

Take your first step to understanding the world of Thai poetry with the Ling app. Everything is provided for you to become fluent in Thai as quickly as possible through lessons set by native speakers, conversations about real-life subjects, and many tools to help master reading and writing.

There are also plenty of stimulating games and quizzes to keep learning! And Thai isn’t your only option; the app has 60+ other languages to choose from, from popular ones like Spanish and German to hidden gems like Khmer and Swahili.

So why not check the Ling app out today on the App Store and Google Play?

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