A new issue of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal came out today, and my poem Everything Is appears in it. It was a poem inspired by the words of Aung San Suu Kyi back in 1988 when she was urging the Burmese people to be involved in politics. Back then, (up until this year), everyone there was afraid to be labeled as politically active, due to the fact that once you were labeled, you got hauled off to the dark cells of Insein prison never to be seen or heard again.
Back in those days, we could not speak to our neighbors, friends or to our family members about politics. No criticism could ever be made in any form for fear that you’d get turned in to the most feared military intelligence branch. If you aligned with the government, you got rewards, and if you engaged in any critical thinking about lack of human rights and dignity in the country, you’d get the prison sentence. So it was out of fear that people shied away from politics or discussion of any political topic. Even if you were to engage in a topic that remotely concerned some political nature, most people would immediately state, “We don’t talk politics. We are not into politics,” when in fact, every facet of our lives was the direct impact of those who were governing us. Aung San Suu Kyi was the brave one who pointed out to all of us that we must be politically engaged if we wanted better lives.
I wrote the poem during the dark days of Burma, which lasted almost all of my forty-four years of life. (We are just now beginning to glimpse a distant dawn). Words of indifference (as a mean of self-protection) by a handful of Burmese people who were living outside Burma, nagged at me, during 2007 failed uprising of the monks and again during the cyclone nargis crisis when the government turned a blind eye toward the sufferings of Burmese people. I remember going to the Burmese forums in Yahoo and such, during those times when the pain and agony of Burmese people were so evident, and hearing the deafening silence within these chat rooms. No one dared to mention anything happening inside Burma although most of the members were out of Burma by then. The poem was born out of my heart ache and despair to express that one cannot dissociate from politics or the governing body, not when someone there is making the rules of how one should live or in the case of Burma, one should die.
When I read the bio of other contributors and their writings in Cha, I feel honored that my work appeared alongside these great talented poets and writers. I am truly grateful for the editors of Cha to choose my work, and feel doubly blessed that my first ever published poem was about the subject close to my heart and that it makes its appearance in such a fine journal.
The link to the poem is HERE. While you are there, please check out the journal as a whole, as it always presents and offers excellent and thought evoking writings.