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Close Listening: Ko Ko Thett



ko ko thett is poet, editor and translator from Burma/Myanmar. He writes in English and his first book The Burden of Being Burmese was published in 2015 by Zephyr Press. It was hailed by John Ashbery as “brilliantly off-kilter.” With James Byrne, he is the editor of Bones Will Crow, an anthology of contemporary Burmese poetry and he is a translator of the speeches of Aung San Suu Kyi. A student activist during the military dictatorship in Burma, ko ko thett spent many years living in exile in Finland, Austria, and the U.S.. He has recently returned to Yangon. 


ko ko thett talks to Charles Bernstein about his decision to write in English; his 19 years in exile and the experience of returning home; the political situation in Burma at the time of his exile compared to the present; his sense of the futility of the student protests; and the international context of the poets he anthologized in Bones Will Crow. In the course of the show ko ko thett reads a recent poem in Burmese and offers a spontaneous translation. You can listen to ko ko thett’s reading, recorded at the University of Pennsylvania just before the Close Listening show, at PennSound’s Burma page <http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Burma.php>. 


 

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