Exploring the human and greater-than-human world

Posts tagged ‘Tibet’

Poetry and Grasslands

I am launching a new series of blog posts, sharing poems I wrote during my Tibetan odyssey years 1999-2009.  The poems track back and forth between years, juxtaposing naive discoveries with increasingly complex and concerning entanglements.  I’m not trying to follow in the tradition of Westerns – injis – representing Tibet; rather, this is my truth spoken in poetic lines (I rarely rhyme or use meter, and nearly all of them are in zero draft form) I scribbled in my field notebooks and journals over solitary cups of tea, in the midst of momo parties, waiting in airports, or contemplating with the mountains as my companions and witnesses.  This is much more about laying bare the discovery of myself through the muse of “Tibet” (which I encountered in five different nations: India, Nepal, China, U.S. and Canada) and excavating my non-academic writing and voice in a post-dissertation world.


Roof of Hotel Tibet (1999)

Tin roofs

Shingled roofs

We call them shanties

Held down by rocks

They call them home.

Monkeys thunder over them

In the morning,

A sound becoming familiar.

We watch

Buzzards, crows, hawks,

Pass circle upon circle

On the currents

Of the sky.

Snow glazed mountains

We call them the Himalayas


Behind greener mountains

Terraced gardens

Prayer flags whispering white

By the currents of the sky.



Making Tea (2006)

He took the tea out of the bag

I leave the tea in the bag

To make early evening chai

While an old woman

Collects hair from the street dogs

As they wag their tails

Wait for their turn

And follow her down the street

When she has taken what she needs.

I fight loneliness even here

As I watch the street below.

But then he calls up.



Knotted Tongue (1999)

Learning instinct?

Only if it died

Only if it went somewhere

So deep inside

It took a journey

Across canyons of clouds

And mountain passes

10,000 miles high.


Hurt and worry


When your only way

To get a meal

To answer a call

Of curiosity

Is to look a fool.


You’re a fool

When you purposefully

Knot your tongue.


Momo Party (2006)


The deftness of tactility

Shaped dough into half moons

Twirling hash into tobacco

Moving, fluttering

Like butterflies

That live for only tonight.



I Cannot Be an Inji Anymore (2006)

Working in and with the Tibetan situation

Causes me to assess my own life

What I have, what I have lost,

And what I can regain.

It causes me to look at my own life,

What my heritage is,

Where I come from,

Who I come from,

And what remains incomplete,

Unknown, un-retrieved,


But not irreconcilable.

Working with artists,

I wonder what my own journey

Would look like

If I took the time to explore it,

Confront it, and express it.

I will always believe in Tibet,

That it is a free country

And that someday His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Will return.

I will always pay witness,

I will always speak out,

Always lend my support,


But I cannot be an inji anymore,

I cannot be an outsider anymore

To something I must make a life


I cannot be an outsider

To my heart anymore.

So, I turn to what is left undone

In my life,

In the life of my family

My fatherland (payul)

My culture, my talents.

I need something inside my soul

To believe in.

I cannot fight China

I cannot save Tibet.

Not like this,

Not with a restless heart,

Discontented heart, confused mind,

From halfway around the world.




SHINING SPIRIT film screening and Tibetan music performance, 2 February 2012

filming Shining Spirit in Amdo, TibetOn Thursday, 2 February 2012, from 3:30-5pm, the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, in co-sponsorship with the UBC Department of Anthropology and the Contemporary Tibetan Studies program at UBC’s Institute for Asian Research, will host a screening of the documentary film, SHINING SPIRIT: THE MUSICAL JOURNEY OF JAMYANG YESHI (2009) in the Michael Ames Theater (http://www.moa.ubc.ca/events/index.php?pg=2).  Jamyang Yeshi will be in attendance to play a concert of traditional Amdo Tibetan music, and the film’s director, Karen McDiarmid, will also join the event to take audience questions after the film.

Download and share the Shining Spirit Poster

LISTEN to samples of Jamyang Yeshi’s music here: http://jamyangyeshi.com/index.php?option=com_metaudio&view=metaudio&Itemid=137

JY performing at Vancouver Folk Festival

SHINING SPIRIT has screened at film festivals around the world, including the National Geographic’s “All Roads” Film Festival and the Banff Mountain Film Festival & World Tour; and Jamyang’s music is featured in several documentary films. In 2009, Jamyang toured in Hungary, and performed at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, as well as opening for k.d. lang at a special concert during the Dalai Lama’s visit to Alberta.

For more information on the film and how it gives back to Tibetan communities in Tibet, please visit SHINING SPIRIT’s webpage: http://www.taracafeproject.ca.

Amdowa woman singing

Rongye Adrak, what are you doing right at this moment?

FROM: http://actionnetwork.org/campaign/free_runggyeadak/ 

I am outraged to learn that Runggye Adak, a 52-year old Tibetan nomad and father of 11, is serving an eight year sentence for doing nothing more than exercising his basic right to free speech. Adak was unjustly convicted of “provocation to subvert state power” by the People’s Court in Dartsedo in Eastern Tibet [Chinese: Kangding, Ganzi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province]. Runggye Adak is an innocent man and must be immediately released. I am also deeply concerned about Adak’s nephew, Lupoe, along with Kunkhen and Lothok who have also been given sentences ranging from 3 to 10 years in prison. By persecuting Runggye Adak for his peaceful act, you are violating his fundamental right to freely express his views without fear of punishment. According to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “every person has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Runggye Adak’s ongoing detention is a blatant violation of his fundamental human rights and reveals the reality of your brutal occupation of Tibet. The world is scrutinizing your government’s handling of Runggye Adak’s case very closely. If the charges against him are not overturned, this incident will serve to further diminish China’s international standing. As long as Tibetans continue to be denied their basic human rights, China will never be truly accepted as a leader on the world stage. I will continue to monitor Runggye Adak’s case and will be updating my government about this travesty of justice. I urge you to release Runggye Adak, Lupoe, Kunkhen and Lothok now.

rimo Productions – of birth and rebirth

rimo Productions births films, exhibitions, performances and publications for the rebirth of human ideas, experiences, culture and consciousness. 

"Sky Lake" northeast of Lhasa, capital of Tibet, June 2006

"Sky Lake" northeast of Lhasa, capital of Tibet, June 2006

“rimo” comes from a Tibetan legend about a shepherd who sees the most beautiful woman in a dream one day while grazing his sheep in the mountains. In his dream, the Shepherd reaches out to touch her exquisite face, but she dissolves into rainbows at his touch. He awakens and is so compelled to sketch her face on the nearest rock before the memory, the still-almost-real dream experience of the beautiful mountain girl fades. The Shepherd tucks the carved rock in his clothes and descends to the village with his flock. Upon his return, people inquire about his day. In response, he proffers the rock he carved, telling the story of the beautiful woman, “mo” he dreamt of while in the mountains “ri.” Those who hear the story begin talking about the Shepherd’s “rimo.” They marvel how a dream about a beautiful woman – ephemeral as she is – can drive a man to carve her likeness on a rock and carry it around with him always. They sigh, so moved, and start seeing other possibilities of “rimo” in rocks, wood, fibers, precious stones, metals, bones, wax…  “Rimo” thus becomes the catchall word for what we can now call “art” – but not without the concept retaining the insistence on beauty and ephemerality so akin to a rainbow…

And the story can go on to include the materials, aesthetics, dreams and visions of the contemporary world, where Tibetans now span the globe in exilic diaspora, and globalization has pierced the “veil of mystery” and (barely) the iron curtain of Chinese communism in Tibet.

Given all the suggestions in the legend of “rimo,” rimo Productions seeks to inspire its audiences and fans by delivering beautiful yet soul-wrenching embraces of the ephemerality of human life. Through socially, environmentally and spiritually conscious films, exhibitions, performances and publications, audiences will feel the impact of rimo’s Productions soul-deep, where their personal experiences of love, truth, life and death are uncannily illuminated by the struggles and lessons of others.