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Tibetan PM advises “middle way” in literature too

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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. The Tibetan writers in the audience were left wondering if the PM had another interesting way to say that they should find a balance between tradition and creativity in literature.

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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