Poetry, I would say, bridges one heart to another, it crosses all boundaries of difference: races, languages, cultures. Poetry gave me the chance to accept an emotional journey.
24th to 31th October, 2012...
My journey to England made me quite fatigued. It was terribly cold, a whistle-stop tour. England is a grand and mythically constructed country of legendary events.
I had never been in such cold weather as theirs.
I had never been as warmed as by their welcome.
I had never been as exhausted as by that long journey.
In my life,
I had never been as excited and stimulated.
It was as beautiful as a poem, an epic as well.
It is more natural to me, lying down.
Then the sky and I are in open conversation,
And I shall be useful when I lie down finally:
Then the trees may touch me for once, and
the flowers have time for me.
Sylvia Plath.... From "I Am Vertical"
Within the tour programme, which was extraordinary thanks to Arc, I had the opportunity to recite a poem at the final resting place of Sylvia Plath. I was bowed with the flowers' time for Sylvia, at the place where she lay down, finally at peace as in the last sentence from her poem "I am vertical"
I'd never dreamt of such a thing in my whole life.
I feel there are not enough words to acknowledge Arc Publications.
And... Sarah, who treated me with kindheartedness. She could recite my poems with the voice of her inner space, from somewhere deep within her heart.
And... James, who I'd never seen before; fanatical about and addicted to poetry, had given a huge effort to our book. Moreover, he encouraged me.
And... Tony, who said that they'd considered deeply whether not or to publish the book, but Bones Will Crow was a special decision.
And... Angela, who could dramatically read the poems, whose glances and movements were all made with poetic manners.
And... ko ko thett, who I wished was involved in the tour, but unfortunately couldn't be. Throughout the entire journey, I was thinking of him.
I never thought the British were interested not only in Burmese poetry but also politics, culture, language and traditional costume. I saw how they gave their attention to such things and was endlessly proud of my country. A lovely mannerism of theirs was to be warm and deeply encouraging to others. I have to say a very special thank you to all the people who supported this wonderful experience for me as a Burmese female poet, who could stand tall among Anglo Saxon readers for the first time.
Ruth Padel, Sarah, Angela and Astrid Alben all displayed their excellent poetic mood when they read my poems. A reward I'd never received before. Although I did my best, I believe my poems wouldn't have hit the audience if these women had not been there. If someone had said I'd had some success then, I would say my effort was only 20%, the translators' role 40%. The rest made by the sharply emotional voices of Ruth Padel, Sarah, Angela and Astrid Alben.
I wouldn't describe what I've done as extraordinary. I'd say it wasn't much at all. I expressed the aesthetics of my poetry as much as I could. I just let people see that we, Burmese female poets, have also been struggling and holding hands together in the contemporary poetic ocean. What I was pleased by was that I could answer questions with satisfactory facts.
I could say I got too much from the trip. While I can't comment like some can, I'd like to write down what I've gained. There was no differentiation nor arguments between the types and forms of poetry. There was an audience who was willing to pay to attend those events on chilled autumn evenings. Yes, there was an audience who loved poetry. Yes, there were poetry libraries, poetry magazines like The Wolf, recitals and workshops for poetry specifically, which I saw in England. We have to try to emulate these habits in my country. I admire how some universities specialize in poetry, where students can learn about poetry and scholars can make their critics on poetry. Given our transitional political situation, I think we'd make better effort to build our knowledge of poetry for standing tall among other countries and regaining the vote of confidence.
The door has been opened by Bones will Crow, from England. I feel I have responsibilities for Burmese poetry. We need a bridge, where Burmese poetry cross over it to meet with the real world.
I wish I could be a small brick or a particle of sand which is constructed in that bridge.
Translated by Zaw Zaw Htun