We were made for home: an evening of Tibetan poetry

Last Wednesday we were delighted to host a moving and thought-provoking celebration of Tibetan poetry.

For many Tibetans, Wednesday is a significant day. Since the 2008 uprising the lhakar (White Wednesday) movement has encouraged Tibetans inside Tibet and in exile to take personal action that asserts and disseminates Tibetan cultural identity as a way of expressing resistance to the Chinese occupation. As part of our on-going commitment to promoting Tibetan culture, Tibet Relief Fund aims to amplify and celebrate these Tibetan voices around the world, so we were thrilled to welcome a panel of four Tibetan poets and speakers to share their work and take part in a fascinating discussion of Tibet’s poetic past, present and future.

In the intimate and relaxed environment of our local bookshop, Burley Fisher, we first heard from Dechen Pemba, the editor of High Peaks Pure Earth. Her website translates contemporary poetry and writings from inside Tibet and the People’s Republic of China and provides an invaluable link between Tibetans in exile and their brothers and sisters still living in Tibet. As part of his fascinating history of Tibetan poetry, scholar Darig K. Thokmay then treated us to beautiful readings in both Tibetan and English.

After skyping with Dhondup, a Tibetan poet in Paris whose work reflects on the complex theme of refugee identity, the evening was rounded out by a reading from Lekey Leidecker, an activist and poet from Washington DC. The final line of her poem Refuge gave the event its name – we were made for home – and its poignant message sparked discussions that kept the bookshop packed until past closing time!

Thank you to our wonderfully engaged audience, to Burley Fisher for having us, and most importantly to all the poets and speakers who made the evening so unforgettable.

Thanks to Anna Leidecker for the photography