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Tibetan PM advises "middle way" in literature, too

September 1, 2009

Phayul
August 31, 2009

Dharamsala Aug 31 -- The Kalon Tripa, Prof.
Samdhong Rinpoche, yesterday advised Tibetan
writers, poets and editors to adopt a middle way
in their writing practices. The Prime Minister of
Tibetan exile government was speaking as the
chief guest at a literary conference today
organized by the Tibetan PEN here at Mentseekhang hall.

Several writers, poets, editors and readers met
for the annual affair that attracted
participation from south India and Varanasi
besides the avid readers from Norbulingka
Institute and Sarah Tibetan College. The meeting
was evidently a conglomeration of the usual group
of Tibetan writers and readers. There was neither
a diverse group, nor the sporadic writers in English except for one.

The president of Tibetan PEN, Lhamo Kyap, a poet
and now a lecturer at a university in France,
welcomed the gathering while the main organizer
of the conference Kunther Dhondup, vice president
of the organization, gave an overview of the conference.

Media shy Tibetan poet and writer Lodoe Palsang,
who looked more like a rock star made a rare
appearance to comment on overall literary
development, while the lone Tibetan writer in
English present at the conference, Tenzin
Tsundue, spoke on “Mapping Tibetan Writing in English”.

Defining "Tibetan literature" threw up a
controversy as some of the writers refused to
recognize Tibetan writings in foreign languages
as “Tibetan literature”. Tsundue claimed that if
a writer is Tibetan and if the content is also
Tibetan then it must be considered as Tibetan
literature, it can be in English like Jamyang
Norbu's or Woeser's in Chinese. Tsundue later
told Phayul that the debate would grow stronger
now that a whole new generation of English readers is growing up.

During the two-day proceedings the speakers
covered a wide range of topics and subjects of
concerns like women writing and writing for
children. Tibetan writer and translator Chung
Tsering mapped “story writing in exile since
1960”. Kelsang Lhamo’s novel “Drangsong Thiney Ki
Milam Yunchik" was applauded by many. Pema
Tsewang Shastri’s novel in Tibetan "Warm East
Cold West" based on real lives of exile Tibetans
won much praise for its realistic approach.

Some of most appreciated writers who got mentions
were Gendun Chophel, Dhondup Gyal, Jamyang Norbu,
Dawa Norbu, Pema Bhum, Ju Kesang, Jangbu, Tsering
Wangmo Dhompa, Zung Shuk Kyi and Buchung D Sonam.
Tibetan Freedom and other magazines were lauded as platforms for the writers.

Kalong Tripa boosted the morale of the writers
promising his government's support for
publications of literature and also literary
gatherings. However he stressed on the need for
discipline among writers besides producing good
literature in an apparent reference to a few
members of the Tibetan PEN not returning to India
after a literary conference in Europe two years back.

The Tibetan PEN will hold its general elections
today but not many changes in the executives are expected.
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