New and Selected Poems in Burmese (100 pages, 42 poems)
10 poems in this collection, including Accent, have been published in English, and translated into Burmese by the author. The rest has been written in Burmese since the author's return to Myanmar in 2016.
Image: Details from the back cover illustration by Ngu Eain Htet Myek
Translated into Chinese by Matthew Cheng, this English-Chinese bilingual chapbook features 13 poems from "The Burden of Being Burmese". The book is published for the 2015 International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong. Cover Image by Bei Dao.
Filled with cutting statements critiquing colonization, his country, and himself, these poems reflect on the expat’s identity as a poet and Burmese man. Frequently used but tweaked idioms and expressions suit both poetic purposes and the humorous yet acerbic communication of Thett’s message as he explains the burden of his title. Such burdens extend past the borders of the country to problems that everyone must face in an increasingly industrialized world. [World Literature Today]
Bones will Crow: 15 Contemporary Burmese Poets, edited and translated by ko ko thett and James Byrne, is the first bilingual anthology of contemporary Burmese poets published in the West, and includes the work of Burmese poets who have been in exile and in prison. The poems include global references from a culture in which foreign books and the internet are regarded with suspicion and where censorship is an industry. The poets have been ingenious in their use of metaphor to escape surveillance and censorship, writing post-modern, avant-garde, performance and online poetries. The anthology reveals the transition of traditional to modernist poetry, the development of Burmese poetry over the second half of the 20th century, as Burma has changed. Through their wildly diverse styles, these poems delight in the freedom to experiment with poetic tradition.
The anthology is the winner of English PEN Writers in Translation Programme Award-2012, on the list of '75 Notable Translations for 2012' by World Literature Today and one of the '10 books that chart the country's tumultuous history' by Rory MacLean in the Guardian.