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Recollections of a Tibetan
Tibet Independent Network[Wednesday, February 23, 2005 23:45]
Author: Tsoltim Shakabpa
Publish America 2003

Review by Jeffrey Bowe

It was once said that of all the arts poetry communicated most directly and profoundly to the core of our being, harvesting and reflecting the deepest feelings and notions of self. Perhaps the mystery of such poetic revelation lies in the nature of sound itself, words intoned that resonate beyond intellect and reason, visceral-like in their effect; Robert Graves once defined a Ngoodb poem as being possessed of a quality which would make the hairs on onebs neck rise. It is that communication, from the heart to the heart, which reveals and celebrates our fragile and shining humanity and in so doing unites us. As does its ability to convey, with mercurial talent, the darkest and most luminous experiences with unrivalled grace and sincerity making it the most eloquent and powerful of mediums. It is no surprise therefore to note poetrybs role as a champion of freedom, justice and cultural identity.

From ancient Persia, East Turkestan, Kurdistan to Ireland poets have exposed the suffering of exile and written on the struggle for national liberation. Mr Tsoltim Shakabpabs work NRecollections of a Tibetanb stems from that tradition and is a courageous, imaginative and honest miscellany related to Tibet and the authorbs personal life-challenges. There is an inherent wisdom and charm in his writing, forged with a warmth that invests each poem with a rare humanity. Whether examining the darker moments of illness, urging Tibetans to struggle for independence or musing on life at fifty he weaves a sane and positive philosophy throughout his works. Despite the eclectic range of themes within 179 poems, many of which are personal musings and contemplations, the authorbs heartfelt dedication to his country and the plight of his compatriots shines through every word.

Yet,like an Argonaut, his own journey has been fraught with challenges, pain, loss and triumph and in many ways is a microcosmic reflection of the fate of his beloved Tibet. Struck down with unexpected fury and occupied by a foreign power yet having a courage and determination to continue the struggle with humour and acceptance. These poems are a remarkable testament to the resilience of the individual and sing loudly of hope prevailing over the bitter ashes of despair, they can be read on many levels of interpretation being both a personal expos yet always in sight of the majestic snow mountains of Tibet. At times the writing is Zen-like in its simplicity and celebration of space, drawing upon evocative imagery yet balanced with an earth-based sanity.

Clearly the muse has been extremely generous in her touch and readers will find this book a highly enjoyable and interesting collection. For those with an interest in Tibet it offers a revealing perspective on the process of separation, identity and a longing for freedom. Definitely poetry-for-the-people and highly recommended.

Copyright 2005: Jeffrey Bowe editor@tibettruth.com

* Mr. Jeffrey Bowe of Tibet Independent Network is a scholar on Tibet

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