- Two Poems
In a children’s geography textbook, I read In the long distance of human history, I read In the woods of mangoes in the dark monsoon clouds, I read In my decades of drifting across the seven seas, I read In the events that are stuck in my throat, I read In the two minutes before drowning, I read In the fairytales and satellite news, I read In the trickeries of feigning fate, I read In the bends of life preserved in formalin, I read Behind the curtain dark purple, behind the sets, I read
I read How plentiful I’ve read
Excuse me I am trying to say something Am I a soul damned in purgatory Why isn’t anybody hearing me [End Page 20]
Gun and Cheese
mickey mouse appears out of the red circle the sketch of a ship drawn on blue tracing paper towards invisible islands Columbus hadn’t discovered the discovery of penicillin, its usefulness, and the never-ending regrets of humans the mysterious experiences of a kiss and its art of presentation the unsmooth handing down to next generations pounding gunpowder needs adjustment to get the sparks right the way the cheese is moved without success [End Page 21]
Khin Aung Aye was born in 1956 in Rangoon. He has published eleven collections of poetry, including collaborations with other poets and translators, such as Zeyar Lynn and Maw Rousseau. While he is regarded as one of the key postmodern poets to emerge from the Khit San (“testing the time”) era of Burmese poetry, his work is grounded in close readings of old masters, such as Dagon Taya, and influenced by the workshops led by Maung Tha Noe in the 1980s. His most recent book of poetry is 54 Sentences Dictated by Free Thought (2011). He has read his work in Europe and South Korea, as well as in Southeast Asia, and now lives in Bangkok.
Maung Tha Noe introduced modernism into Burma in the 1960s and has been one of the country’s most prolific literary translators. His translations from English include Edwin Arnold’s The Light of Asia (1977, 1992, 2000), Edward Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1994), and Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World (2002), as well as translations of poetry by T. S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, and Ted Hughes, which were anthologized in In the Shade of a Pine Tree (1968). His translations from Burmese into English include works by Tin Moe, Aung Cheimt, and Thukhamein Hlaing. He has published two books on linguistics, Burmese Spoken and Written (1972) and Myanmar Language and Literature (2001).
ko ko thett grew up in Burma and was educated at the Rangoon Institute of Technology. In 1996, he published and clandestinely distributed two chapbooks on the campus, The Rugged Gold and The Funeral of the Rugged Gold. He left Burma in 1997 following a brief detention for his role in the December 1996 student uprising in Rangoon. He has written extensively for journals in Burma and for leading papers in Finland. He regularly contributes his Burmese translations of Western poetry to an online art magazine, Kaungkin (kaungkin.com), edited by Burmese artist Htein Lin. With James Byrne he coedited and co-translated Bones Will Crow: 15 Contemporary Burmese Poets (2012).