When I can’t focus on reading a book, I pick poetry and I have been re-reading Kyi Aye’s poems these days.
Here I shared two of her poems: one written in Burmese and translated to English (Mid-River Love Exchange) by Kenneth Wong and another written in English (Where Birds Sing) and translated to Burmese by Htin Linn. Her Burmese poems were rhymed beautifully and her choice of words were extravagantly eloquent. Interestingly, the English poem she had written was quite the contrary. This is the only English poem by her I found and I know I can’t make judgement on one alone. Nonetheless, it is still concise and meaningful one.
Kyi Aye had influenced many new generations of writers and affected several readers, as well. Although most of her eminent works were from post colonial era, her novels and poems are much loved by today’s youth as well. For me, she is one of the greatest writers in Burmese literature and if I have to choose one word to describe her oeuvre, “timeless” would be a perfect fit.
Kyi Aye (1929-2016) was a well known Burmese novelist and poet. She was considered one of the most influential Burmese writers who emerged in Burma after the post-colonial period. She wrote poems and short stories since she was in high school. Her first short story was featured in 1947. She studied medicine in the university but in her third year, she changed to English literature in her third year. After getting married in 1953, she worked as a lecturer in the English Department of Yangon University. She then continued her medical studies to completion. She emigrated to US in 1971. She obtained her medical licence there and became a psychiatrist. Before she retired in 2002, she worked at a few hospitals and institutions in the US and UK. She passed away on 28 December 2016. [Referenced from her obituary featured in the New York Times.]