April 25, 2010

Poetry of the Killing Fields

Contra Costa Times writes about Buddhist monk Ly Van, who left behind two works of poetry noted for their stunning “lyricism, poignancy and richness” which have since been formatted for broad distribution.
In an immaculate Khmer calligraphy, the 90-year-old monk transcribed two long narrative poems he had written, one called “The Khmer Rouge Regime: A Personal Nightmare” and the other titled “The Unfortunate Love of Sophoan Chea,” a tragic tale also set in the time of the Khmer Rouge.

Feeling the Khmer-language poetry deserved a larger audience, educator Samkhann Khoeun meticulously translated the work and created a book and a Khmer-language CD titled “O! Maha Mount Dangrek: Poetry of Cambodian Refugee Experiences.” The title refers to the treacherous mountain many Cambodians had to traverse to escape their homeland and cross the border into Thailand and the refugee camps.

A national tour is giving public readings, and they’re now in Southern California. Check out the presentation tomorrow at the Mark Twain Library in Long Beach.

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