Dear Madam Audrey Azoulay,
Since 2005, we poets in Myanmar/Burma have celebrated World Poetry Day (WPD), and since then, WPD has become an auspicious day, a day we share with poets of the world, past and present and even towards the future.
WPD has been celebrated not only in cities like Yangon or Mandalay but also in many parts of the country where poetry-conscious people and people-conscious poets come together to hold hands in spirit with the poetry world at large.
This year, however, will be a widely defining celebration. Poetry and democracy are one life with two inter-twining bloodstreams, enriching one another.
Madam Director- General,
Today, poets of Myanmar, again embody the Shelleyan doctrine of poets being ‘the unacknowledged legislators of the world’. We poets in Myanmar are in the forefront of our revolution for democracy. As poetic expression of democracy and democratic expression of poetry are the two sides of an indeterminate coin, we wish to celebrate democratic expression as per poetry. We also acknowledge that poets are against all forms of oppression, call it patriotism, nationalism, rule-of-law ism, or even poetryism.
As I write, sounds of gunshots at 23:35 blast holes in the military-administrated night killing sleep in bed.
Dear Madam Director- General,
Please let me quote the former UNESCO D-G, Madam Irina Bokova, who quoted in 2015 John Burnside:
“If what we insist on calling
fate seems inexplicable or cruel
it’s only because
we lack the imagination
to wish for what it brings,
to brighten it
with something more inventive
than dismay. “
Dear Madam Director-General,
We surely do not lack that imagination. Where Rimbaud and Marx come together, I do assure you that poets of Myanmar will be there. We do not wish to ‘capture the creative spirit of the human mind’; we’d rather set it free.
Today, we do not live in ‘dazzling colours’ but in the black flag of our lives. The river of death has overtaken the river of life.
Days of killing and nights of terrorizing should not be the texture of ‘daily life.’
We must never forget that poetry is partisan.
Madam Director-General, Ms. Audrey Azoulay,
As of today, we poets of Myanmar/Burma wish all poets of the world a wonderful celebration of poetry, remembering that poetry is life and not the annihilation of life by those wielding weapons in the name of law-and-order.
An eminent poet, Bei Dao said:
“Freedom is the distance
between the hunter and the hunted. “
May I be so rude as to address by your first name, soon our names will be forgotten as memories are forced to be forgotten,
please give an oratory speech to poets of the world since its WPD.
Please remember in memory that we poets of Myanmar have unrequitedly loved WPD.
To poets of the world,
Poetry is nothing without freedom
And freedom is nothing without poetry.
Happy World Poetry Day 2021!
On behalf of poets of Myanmar/Burma
18 March, 2021
(To all those who share the same sentiments, please share the message for our country. )