translated from the Burmese by ko ko thett and James Byrne
'2010 the curvaceousness of burmese poetry, poetics and an unknown' and 'Mr. Charley, I Have Picked You!' were co-translated by ko ko thett and James Byrne; 'Lullaby for a Night' and 'An Evening With a City Girl' were translated by ko ko thett.
The recording of '2010 the curvaceousness of burmese poetry, poetics and an unknown' (Monday, June 27, 2011, 'Anti-Austerity Poetry' event, The Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London) is used with the kind permission of Htein Lin.
Bones will Crow: An Anthology of Fifteen Contemporary Burmese Poets is due out in UK in 2012.
Various Burmese Poets in this issue include Khin Aung Aye, Maung Chaw Nwe, Eaindra and Pandora.
Khin Aung Aye was born in 1956 in Rangoon where he was raised and attended the university. He has published 11 collections of poetry, which include collaborations with leading poets and translators from Burma, like Zeyar Lynn and his own cousin and early teacher Maw Rousseau. He is regarded as one of the great modern poets of Burmese poetry yet his style emerged from close readings of the old masters in Burma, like Dagon Taya and—in the 1980s—the workshops of Maung Tha Noe. In his early formation as a poet, Khin Aung Aye stuck to four-syllable verse, before becoming influenced by modernism (publishing significantly with leading modernist publisher Moe Way). He lives in Bangkok and has recently read his work in England, Finland and at literary festivals in South Korea.
Maung Chaw Nwe was born in Rangoon in 1949. From an early age, he lived in Pyay, formerly known as Prome, a port town on the Irrawaddy bank, 160 miles northwest of the capital. At twenty, a year after his first poem appeared in Thriller magazine in Rangoon, he told his father who was a district commissioner, 'Dad, there isn't any world-famous landowner, there isn't any world-famous district commissioner, there are only world-famous poets and writers.' In the 1970s, he travelled to Rangoon 'a million times' to mingle with poets. The same decade saw his formative books, Cruel Music on Dead Leaves (1974, both collaborations with Aung Chemit and Phaw Way), The Whining of the Inner Truth (1976) and The Day Maung Chaw Nwe was Had (1979), followed by Upper Class Water (1980) and Maung Chaw Nwe, the Fake (1994) and Train (1994), a collection of five long verses. A flamboyant troubadour all through his career, Maung Chaw Nwe famously said 'I've never thought of living life moderately.' To him, poetry is 'a karmic disorder and a leprosy of retribution.' Maung Chaw Nwe's untimely death in 2002 is considered one of the worst blows to contemporary Burmese poetry. He is survived by his wife, Myint Myint Sein, and three children.
Eaindra was born in the Irrawaddy delta in 1973 and is now a 'temporary resident' in Singapore. Since publishing her first chapbook at twenty Eaindra has become regarded as one of the most outstanding Burmese poets of her generation. She is an active and prolific blogger, contributing to significant Burmese magazines inside and outside Burma. Since 1996, she has published fifty poems and fifteen short stories in print media inside Burma. Her first collected book of poems is imminent and will be published in Rangoon. She is a founding member of the Aesthetic Light Foundation, a charity that aims to promote the wellbeing of Burmese writers living in Burma.
Pandora was born in 1974 in Burma delta. As an English major at Rangoon University, she wrote poems and short stories for the campus magazines under several pen names, all of which she has now forgotten. She took a hiatus from writing when she came to Singapore to study in 2001 but bounced back on the scene in early 2007 as literary blogger Pandora. Since then her poems, essays and short stories have been seen in online Burmese journals and books and in printed media inside Burma. Recently she has returned to Rangoon for a change after a ten-year spell in Singapore.
ko ko thett grew up in Burma, performing poems at school competitions and in town halls. By the early 1990s, he was thoroughly poeticized and politicized at Rangoon Institute of Technology. In 1996 he published and clandestinely distributed two uncensored chapbooks on the campus, The Rugged Gold and The Funeral of the Rugged Gold. He left the country in 1997 following a brief detention for his role in the December 1996 student uprising in Rangoon. ko ko thett has written extensively on the country's politics mainly for several Myanmar/Burma journals and leading papers in Finland, where he lived for a decade.
James Byrne has edited The Wolf, an international poetry magazine, for the past ten years, publishing various Burmese poets like Manorhary, Saw Wai and Zawgyi. In 2008, Byrne won the Treci Trg poetry festival prize in Serbia. His second poetry collection, Blood/Sugar, was published by Arc Publications in 2009. His Selected Poems: The Vanishing House was published by Treci Trg (in a bilingual edition) in Belgrade. He is the co-editor of Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century, an anthology of poets under 35, published by Bloodaxe in 2009. Byrne was born in 1977 in High Wycombe and currently lives in Cambridge where he is a 'Poet in Residence' at Clare Hall and a research associate for the School of Oriental & African Studies (researching modern Burmese poetry). He completed his graduate studies at New York University, where he was given a Stein Fellowship ('Extraordinary International Scholar').