Enjoyed talking to Tsering Kyi very much last week!
Following on from my first translation of a Woeser short story for MANOA, I’m pleased that a second piece titled “Garpon La’s Offerings” has now been published in Manoa, vol. 24, no. 2 (2012): “On Freedom: Spirit, Art, and State”, edited by Frank Stewart and Fiona Sze-Lorrain. The original title of the short story by Woeser la in Chinese is 《卡尔本啦的供养》.
The editor’s note says:
Woeser’s essay in On Freedom, “Garpon La’s Offerings”, tells the story of a Tibetan master’s loss and recovery of freedom. On one level, the narrator speaks in the voice of a slightly distracted reporter attempting to describe the “rehabilitation” of the political criminal Garpon La, the last acknowledged master of the Tibetan performance ritual known as Gar. On another level, Woeser uses irony to describe the government’s restrictions on physical, spiritual, and cultural freedoms.
I didn’t know much about Gar music and performance before translating this essay but I found Garpon La fascinating. When I told a few Tibetans about what I was translating, the older ones immediately recognised Garpon La and some even remembered him from Dharamsala!
One day last year I was on Facebook and came across a photo supposedly of Garpon La in Dharamsala in 1997, I am posting it below. I am sorry I don’t know who to credit for this photo.
The essay as published in MANOA is available on Project MUSE and for those without access, an excerpt is online: http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/manoa/v024/24.2.woeser.html
After meeting the poet, novelist and human rights activist Philo Ikonya at the Bjornson Literature Festival a few months ago in Norway, I’ve become a really huge fan! Her own story is remarkable as is her commitment to freedom of expression, for everyone.
I’m also really moved at her continued interest in and support for Tibet. Below is Philo’s creative and moving response to the self-immolation of 20 year old nomad Tsering Kyi, as posted on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=398067366936009&id=112797722129643
“Song for the Soul of Tibet”
By Philo Ikonya
I was not here on the promised tomorrow
But I was in presence of mind
It was my own hands that stopped my writing
My spirit stood up in question
in examination of why some of us write
What others bleed and why some read
Why some are touched and harden
What the children say, what the Tibetan
Child says when the day dawns and
a beautiful mother such as I saw
A wonderful girl such as Tsering Kyi
is gone and is not playing any more
gone for freedom search in spirit
Gone and never to be seen
Her brief visit to the world
dousing with paraffin and dying at 20
Being a harsh judgement on what is precious
Why Tsering Kyi is no more if she so loved
to play with her cousins and so often
to sleep outside under the stars and sing to freedom.
I just wanted to share this video that was made by CNN and shown at the awards ceremony last week where Dhondup Wangchen was honoured by Committee to Protect Journalists with their 2012 International Press Freedom Award. A huge thank you goes to CPJ, not only for this award but for their support for Dhondup Wangchen and “Leaving Fear Behind” ever since 2008.
Here’s a link to a blogpost I wrote for CPJ in 2009 about my meeting with Dhondup Wangchen: http://cpj.org/blog/2009/12/the-story-of-dhondup-wangchen-a-filmmaker-jailed-i.php
One of the best things about my unusual line of “work” is that I get to meet all kinds of people who also do unusual things… and by unusual I mean AWESOME. I’ve known Leah since 2007 and when she hasn’t been subverting mainstream media from the inside, she’s been spending her time taking on big bad regimes and big bad corporations. She might even have been deported from more countries than me!
Leah is one of those rare people who knows how to give real help and support, be it putting Tibet on prime time international news, hooking SFT UK up with venues in London, getting “Leaving Fear Behind” shown to new audiences, giving media training to young activists, reading Woeser’s poetry and making it sound
intense great … all with minimum fuss.
So the least I can do is give a shout out to everyone to donate to Leah’s documentary project “Dirty White Gold”. It’s shocking that 300,000 Indian farmers have killed themselves to escape debt. At one point, up to 26 per day were killing themselves, some by drinking the pesticides with which they farm. It’s even more shocking that their stories aren’t told and that we seldom hear about it – we certainly don’t want to think about the part we’re playing in it by buying cheap cotton and cheap clothes. All that’s got to change though.
So far £12,405.10 has been raised, help them get to the £18,000 goal by November 16th AND every £1 donated unlocks another £3 – can’t say fairer than that!!! More information on the film and how to donate here: http://www.sponsume.com/project/cotton-film-dirty-white-gold
Can’t wait to see the finished film, good luck Leah, let’s make a crazy party once it’s all done!
It’s always fun when you hear a contemporary Tibetan pop song and recognise the tune from elsewhere. Like when I was watching Made in Tibet by Shapaley and my friend recognised the plinky plonky piano part being from the film “Amelie”. The word on the street now is that there is a Shapaley remix going round that takes a sample from “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” by Eve featuring Gwen Stefani, want to hear that!
I just wanted to share a few songs from Tibet that I’ve come across that sample some cool tunes!
1. Acha Tsendep’s song “Tibetan Girl” samples “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz
2. Someone sent me this song by Lhasa’s Tibetan Mastiff Crew a while back and it samples “You Got Me” by The Roots featuring Erykah Badu! I can’t find a video or anything for this song so I’ve uploaded the mp3, the lyrics in Tibetan (and English) are pretty nasty, there’s also a little bit in Chinese.
3. This last one is a straight-up cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” but with Tibetan lyrics and a rather, er, unique singing style. I’ve put this up on my blog before but I’m not really sure that people liked it, at least most of my friends don’t seem to! Anyway here it is again!
Does anyone know any more covers or Tibetan songs that sample contemporary pop music? Let me know!
Last weekend at the Bjornson International Festival of Literature in Molde, Norway, was educational, interesting and also a lot of fun. I met the wonderful writers in exile, Philo Ikonya (Kenya) and Asieh Amini (Iran) and got to know about the important of work of organisations such as The International Cities of Refuge Network.
I think my presentation went well and the audience were very kind and attentive. Chungdak la and I already did a write-up on her blog so I won’t post it again here, just click on this long link: http://chungdak.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/tibet-and-tibetan-writers-highlighted-at-the-bjornson-international-festival-of-literature-norway/
My hope is that everyone went away with a renewed sense of energy to raise awareness about the plight of Tibetan cultural figures. Furthermore, I also hope that we got people interested in Tibetan cultural output in general, in writings, music and poetry.
Highlights were Philo’s reading of Tsundue’s poem “My Tibetanness” and the concert on the closing night which I really enjoyed. A huge thank you to the organisers of the festival, everything was perfect!