On March 16 the Cultural Impact Studies Club (CISC) hosted a World Poetry Day reading and contest. It was called Survival of Poetry of Witness. Prizes were awarded for the best 6 poems written in English and Burmese. About 100 people showed up, all Burmese except for the PAO, me and Amy.
The deal with the poetry contest is that it was held on 88Gen’s declaration of Human Rights Day for Burma – March 16. March 16, 1988 was the first day of the 88 Uprising. The reading was great. My Open Window Journal students printed a program. Some of Burma’s most famous poets read and the poems were translated into English. One I posted earlier. The poems read are illegal to read or print in Burma. It’s too early to tell if there will be a problem. Even though we discussed publishing them, talked about them as possibly too sensitive for print; they wanted to go ahead with them. I relented to their wishes. At some point one has to push a little to see how far it can go – the limit that is. We’ll see soon enough.
(Open Window Journal is the only publication in Burma that doesn’t have to be passed through a censor. I’ll write more on that later. I have a feeling that’s about to change soon.)
The PAO *** was pretty upset about printing the poems. But she was completely surprised and moved by the poetry and the turnout. She had never met CISC people, and most of the OWJ. Both are comprised of people who have been xpp’s, or have family members who are xpp’s or who are now in prison.
They are all very cool. CISC members went to meet Suu Kyi a couple of weeks ago. I was also there. They’re doing the work selflessly, not seeking recognition. Being xpp herself, she probably understands their drive and what drives them. There’s more to this, regarding moi, but I don’t want to talk about it. However, the Lady asked CISC to invite me to see her. Very sweet frosting!
Me and Ko Nei, and some others, drank Remy Martin. He is Suu Kyi’s former poet laureate. And, he’s my student and friend. I introduced him and others to Remy a couple of months ago. They love it and now they ask for me to bring some whenever we do something cool like read poetry.