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Maung Chaw Nwe (Myanmar)

Maung Chaw Nwe (1949-2002) was born in Rangoon but from an early age lived on the banks of the Irrawaddy 160 miles northwest of the capital. He published his first poem at the age of 19. In the 1970s, he frequently travelled to Rangoon to mingle with poets. The same decade saw publication of three formative books, Cruel Music on Dead Leaves (1974, with Aung Chemit and Phaw Way), The Whining of the Inner Truth (1976) and The Day Maung Chaw Nwe was Had (1979), later followed by three more, Upper Class Water (1980), Maung Chaw Nwe, the Fake (1994) and Train (1994), a collection of five long poems. A flamboyant, troubadour-like poet, Maung Chaw Nwe once famously declared: 'I've never thought of living life in moderation.' To him, poetry was 'a karmic disorder and a leprosy of retribution'. His untimely death in 2002 was one of the most tragic events of the decade for his contemporaries. His work remains extremely popular and can be seen to have influenced the development of a new generation of readers and writers of Burmese poetry.