This tantalizing introduction to the contemporary Burmese poetry scene offers a rare (for Westerners) glimpse into the country’s intellectual life. Here are the details from Vimeo:
Images: Craig Ritchie.
Animations: Brett Biedscheid/State of State.
Animations Commissioned by English Pen.
Images of Burmese poets taken in their writing spaces in Yangon, Burma during 2011/2012.
Poem excerpts from the anthology of Burmese Poetry, ‘Bones Will Crow’, by Arc Publications, 2012.
The excerpted poems include “The Sniper” by Pandora, “A Letter for Lovers and Haters” by Ma Ei, “Aung Cheimt Goes to the Cinema” by Aung Cheimt, “A Bunch of 52 Keys” by Maung Pyiyt Min, “Moonless Night” by Moe Zaw, “Slide Show” by Zeyar Lynn, “Redundant Sentences” by Thitsar Ni, “Gun and Cheese” by Khin Aung Aye, “The Heart Bearer” by Maung Thein Zaw, and “If You Need to Piss, Go to the Other Room” by Moe Way. Translators are ko ko thett, James Byrne and Maung Tha Noe.
An excerpt from a 30-minute film by Lisa DeLillo with poetry by expatriate Burmese writer Kyi May Kaung. There’s also a second excerpt on YouTube, which includes a prose intro on Burmese politics and censorship, but I preferred this selection for its striking scenes of puppets and dancers miming puppets.
The full-length film was made in 2001, and DeLillo’s website quotes a review by Art Jones from Shout magazine:
To get at what’s real, “Tongues” focuses on that which can’t be subjugated. Social indictments sprout from the small, personal anecdotes of student leaders. The savaging of national character unfolds in the words of noted poet Kyi May Kaung, now a producer with Radio Free Asia. The horrors of “freedom lost” find voice in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner and repeated recipient of Burmese house arrest. Yet most irrepressible are “Tongues” images of Burmese rivers. The water providing life is the same water choked with the blood of civilian casualties, water that DiLillo uses as a constant mirror of all the regime would like hidden.