WHO WE ARE
James C. Hopkins
Founder & Host
I've always been surrounded by books. I grew up on the campus of an all-boys boarding school in the US where my father was the Chairman of the English Department. He had an amazing library with books on three walls, and every time I entered it felt like going into a church. I began writing poetry at the age of 10. Here's my first poem:
"Ice is not nice / For birds and mice.
It freezes them once / It chills them twice.
So if you see a mouse / Out of his house
Scrape him off / That will suffice."
Not surprisingly I grew up and became a Wall Street investment broker. However, sitting at my desk late at night, in the glass towers of New York & Washington DC, I managed to write four books of poetry: "A Walnut Tree Waits for Its Bees (1997)," "Eight Pale Women (2003)," "The Blue Door (2006)" and "A Sleeping Tiger Dreams of Manhattan (2008)." My fifth book, "Ex-Violinist in Kathmandu" comes out this year.
I don't know where I first heard the word "Kathmandu" - probably in high school, in that Bob Seeger song. But about twenty-five years ago I traveled there and had the proverbial rug pulled out from under me. I fell in love with the city's mind-bending chaos, its Tibetan Buddhism, the breathtaking snow-mountains, and the people who would soon become my new Himalayan family.
In 2004 I retired from my job as a stockbroker and checked into a Buddhist monastery near the Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu, and I've been living there ever since: Studying philosophy & language at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery, traveling around the world as a Tibetan lama's assistant, running a social project in an encampment of street beggars, teaching leadership & management skills to reincarnated lamas, leading international yoga tours, and trying to make sense of it all with a pen & paper.
I created Himalayan Writers Workshop (HWW) as a way to bring well-known writers, and their admirers, friends and students together in one of the most inspiring & fascinating places on the planet. It is my hope that after 10 days in the Kathmandu Valley each participant will return to their own little corner of the world, not just a better writer, but a better person for having made the journey. Welcome to the Himalayan Writers Workshop - I hope you'll join us soon!
Outer & Inner Guides
Anil Chitrakar trained as an engineer and energy planner and has been at the forefront of numerous projects aimed at economic, social and environmental sustainability in Nepal. Anil was also born to a family of artisans and loves sharing his knowledge of Nepal's rich cultural heritage. He's worked closely and tirelessly with local artisans for the preservation of the arts, crafts and living heritage of the Kathmandu Valley and offers a rare, "behind-the-scenes" look at life in the Malla cities.
Khenpo Karma Gyurmey (Drokpa Tulku) was born in 1978 in Nubri in northern Nepal. In 1987, when he was nine years old, he was ordained as a Buddhist monk at Ka Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery in Boudhanath, Nepal. There he pursued his elementary studies, which included memorizing many texts and learning the monastery's tradition of chanting. In 1998 he commenced studies in the monastic college at the Sangye Yeshe Higher Shedra. He studied there for nine years, focusing on texts related to sutra- and mantra-level Buddhism as well as general fields of study. Currently he teaches to those who are interested in Buddhist teachings, both ordained and lay, from both East and West.
Carroll Dunham has called Nepal home for thirty years. A medical anthropologist, Buddhist chaplain, and social entrepreneur, her work expresses a humble commitment to internal and external engagement and exploration for the benefit of the planet and all sentient beings. Carroll is founder of Wild Earth, a company that promotes Himalayan plant wisdom and provides work for women. She has spent most of her years exploring Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and Mongolia, studying Vajrayana Buddhism and facilitating medical expeditions and pilgrimages. A National Geographic Expeditions leader, working with nomad partners, she and her family run horse trips in the Khangai mountains of Mongolia. Author of four books, she has worked on over 12 film projects for National Geographic, BBC, PBS, Channel 4 and others on geology, life rites, ritual, women, nomads, sex, and more.
Dharma Adhikari has been a journalist since the mid-1980s, starting as a freelance writer, reporter, and working as an editor. He is the author of A Compassionate Journalist (2010) and has co-written and edited half a dozen other books. He writes a regular column for Republica newspaper published out of Kathmandu. Dharma has been a Fulbright scholar in the US and an Exchange Fellow at the International Center for Journalists. He has a Master's and a PhD in journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism at Columbia. He is one of Nepal's pioneering online journalists and maintains a keen interest in the emerging forms of media. He has pursued journalism and academic interests side by side, writing for local and international outlets and for online platforms, teaching at Georgia Southern University and the University of Missouri as well as universities in Nepal. Besides writing, researching and teaching, he serves on the board of Media Foundation.
James Giambrioni has lived in Kathmandu for more than 40 years, and is the Director of the Indigo Gallery, Kathmandu's foremost gallery specializing in the traditional arts of Nepal, particularly the Newar school of painting. A recent expansion into an old Rana/Newar private home has enabled the gallery to expand into the field of sculpture as well. The gallery hosts exhibitions of modern painting, sculpture, photos and textiles as well as a series of evening films and visual lecture lectures on diverse subjects pertaining to the art & culture of the Himalayan region. James is a specialist in the ancient techniques of repousse (copper sheet metal hammered into religious icons and decorative patterns) and cire purdu (lost wax casting) and is currently working on a installation that will illustrate the repousse process at the Living Traditions Museum, located at the historic site of Changu Narayan, Nepal.
Rajneesh Bhandari is an independent multimedia journalist, investigative reporter, and filmmaker currently based in Kathmandu. He travels around South Asia for stories & is often a guest speaker for Himalayan Writers Workshops. His works on different issues have appeared in The New York Times, AJ+, BBC Reel, National Geographic, Aljazeera, Contrast VR and other outlets as well. He has worked as the data and multimedia editor for the Journalists for Transparency’s investigative reporting website J4T.org. Rajneesh worked at Nepal’s top Kantipur Television Network (KTV) for seven years before moving to independent journalism. He studied investigative reporting, data journalism and documentary filmmaking at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and graduated in Multimedia Journalism from Ateneo De Manila University.
Isabelle Onians received her doctorate in oriental studies from the University of Oxford (2002). She came to Kathmandu in 1990 as a volunteer teacher in a Tibetan monastery school and returned in 1992–1993 to study Tibetan and Sanskrit at Tribhuvan University. Isabelle’s research and experience have focused on classical philosophical, religious, and literary texts. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at the Universities of Oxford and London and at Mahidol University in Bangkok. She has researched and lectured at institutions across the world and led a Royal Geographical Society Oxford University expedition to the Tibetan plateau. Himalayan Writers Workshop is privileged to recieve Isabelle’s insights & stories on a regular basis.
Wayne Amtzis, American poet and longtime resident of Nepal, is the author of the poetry collections: City on their Backs, poems & photos from the streets of Kathmandu and Sandcastle City/Quicksand Nation. He is the editor and co-translator of Days in the Life, translations from Nepali and Nepal Bhasa, From the Lake, Love, the poetry of Banira Giri and of Two Sisters, the poetry of Benju Sharma and Manju Kanchuli,. His photos of Kathmandu appear in the collection flatLine witness. He exhibited at the Siddhartha Art Gallery, Kathmandu in 2001, 2002 and 2004. A student of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, he practices and teaches meditation under the guidance of Tsoknyi Rinpoche, emphasizing the relation between meditation, everyday life and creative expression.