12 Poems by Aung Cheimt

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One of the many pleasures of the abolition of pre-publication censorship is the re-emergence of forgotten or erased works that can now be safely published.  The 12 poems from the eponymous title have been scoured from among many of Aung Cheimt’s works, dating back to 1995.  There is no notice in this collection whether the poems included have been previously published or were taken from a drawer, dusted down and are appearing in print for the first time, but either way the publication of pre-2012 works today is important as a record of the continuous line of experimentation in Burmese language poetry.

Here, the poems tumble, seemingly, through a single year in Myanmar, a parched man drinking A ‘Big Glass Water’ in the hot season; the monotonous, rainy season skies over the Secretariat in ‘The Title of the Painting’; and his earliest poem fittingly titled, ‘The Cold Season’.

Many are sparse, some mere thoughts taken to paper, neither epic nor fantastical they follow the scattered imaginings of a daydream.  So in ‘To The Questions’ we find:

‘… but

shake shake shake shake shake

do and then do

do and then do

do and then do

what you are working

in our presence

compose lines of words

sing lines of words

that

yes …’

Maung Tha Noe, once again, has proved his talents, in an effortless translation that reads smoothly and retains that firmness and determination of intent that Aung Cheimt is known for.

The Publisher:

The Eras is one of the standout publishers in Myanmar.  Helmed by the poet Moe Way and focussing solely on poetical works, The Eras has published many of the leading poets in Myanmar today.  Moe Way himself has been recognised by the International Publishers Association as a finalist for their Freedom to Publish award in 2016.   This slim volume is typical of the Era’s output.  The presentation is simple and unadorned, with no images or gimmicks, allowing the reader to focus on the poetry.   The bi-lingual text rest comfortably beside each other, the longer poems slide from top to bottom, while the shorter rise to meet the middle of the page, creating within the text design itself an undulating cadence.  The pages are thick to the touch, slightly mottled, though that may have been my fault.  This particular edition I left out in too many Monsoon rains.

The Book Matter:

Title: 12 Poems, Collection 4

Author: Aung Cheimt

Translator: Mg Tha Noe

Publisher: The Eras

Pub Date: 2015

Genre: Poetry

Format: Paperback

Circulation: 1000

Cost: 500 MMK

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