Voice of Tibet

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Item Code: IHL488
Author: Tsoltim Ngima Shakabpa
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 818623053X
Pages: 258
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
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Book Description

For at least for the last century, Tibet has been chiefly known the West as a seat of spiritual mastery. As social and political tensions and conflicts have accumulated throughout the world, Tibet has been increasingly admired for the reputed accomplishments of its lamas and yogis. But this reputation has had some disadvantages for its people: it has tended, according to the strange logic of the human mind, to fuel presumptions amongst outsiders that Tibetans did not also; include figures who excelled at secular arts and skills. In fact, there were many Tibetans, long before Chinese troops took; over the country in 1950, who had distinguished themselves in such areas of expertise as medicine, literature, art, commerce, photography, history, politics and international affairs.

Among the most prominent in the last four of these fields was the exceptionally capable and widely admired Tsipon or Finance Minister, Wangchuk Deden Shakabpa. In 1948 he had led a famous delegation sent by the Tibetan government to India, Great Britain, the United States and China to seek international recognition for the country’s status. The delegation demonstrated considerable diplomatic and strategic capability merely in gaining admittance to these countries, since they had succeeded in doing so on Tibetan passports despite the energetic protests of the Chinese government. Over two decades, later after the Dalai Lama and some 80,000 followers had fled to India in 1959, he went on to produce the first comprehensive modern history of the nation, Tibet: A Political History, published by Yale University Press in English in 1967, and a two—volume version in Tibetan entitled, Bod kyi sri don rgyal rabs ("An Advanced Political History of Tibet"). These works are still among the major texts to be consulted in any study of Tibet’s past.

Now, in a new location and in the English language, another Tibetan from the same family has shown an enduring interest in the arts, in this case the art of poetry. Tsoltim Ngima Shakabpa, the youngest son of the late Tsipon, first published a volume of his poems in 2002, when he was in his 59th year. He had been seven years old when the People’s Liberation Army arrived in his hometown, Lhasa. The uprising that led to the flight of the Dalai Lama to India had taken place when he was sixteen, if we use the western method of counting age. By this time he had already gained considerable proficiency in English language, having been sent, like many children (including some girls) of the Tibetan elite from the 1940s onwards, to study in British-run schools in northern India. Later he was to work for the Tibetan Governrnmentin- exile from its base in India, before moving to America and becoming the first Tibetan to pursue a career in international banking as a senior executive in a major American Bank.

His career as a writer emerged only after the onset of cancer in 1993, which was followed by a stroke six years later that has since left him partially immobilized. He published a volume of poems in the Catalan language called Records D’un Tibeta in 2002 and in English in 2003 under the title Recollections of a Tibetan.

Two years later he produced an account of his own history Winds of Change - An Autobiography of a Tibetan. In 2006 he published the collection of poems entitled, Odds and Ends. The present volume is his fifth collection of poetry, and establishes him as a prolific writer with a distinct style and repertoire.

He is not, however, the first Tibetan poet to write in English, though he is among the most productive and wide - ranging. I here is a tradition of English - language poetry dating back to the late 1930s, when the celebrated 20th century Tibetan intellectual, the radical monk - scholar Gendun Choephel, wrote in number of poems in the style of the late nineteenth century romanticism. As Melvyn Goldstein and others showed some 30 years ago, ordinary Tibetans were prolific users and creators of verse famous well before the turn of the 20th century, and Lhasa was famous for the circulation of street verses, quatrains of often impromptu wit that usually contained pointed political satire. For centuries, Tibetan culture has been noted for the extensive use and importance of proverbs; the Bon scholar Namkhai Norbu has shown that de’u or riddles were central to Tibetan culture in the era before Buddhism was introduced some 1,400 years ago. But written poetry among Tibetans remained largely the work of scholars until the exile to India in 1959. At that time a new, more popular cohort emerged of Tibetan writers using the English language.

For the first generation of younger refugees, eductated in elite English - medium schools in India, especially before the shift to a Hindi — based curriculum in 1975, it seemed natural that English should serve as their lingua franca. Since then, their options may have narrowed further as the facility to write in Tibetan becomes less common among the younger exiles.

From 1979 three editions of an English — language literary journal were produced by Tibetans in India under the title Lotus Fields. It included work by K. Dhondup (the founder of the Tibetan Communist Party in exile and an important writer), Tenzing Sonam (later to become a noted documentary film director), the essayist and activist Lhasang Tsering, the government official thubten Samphel, Gyalpo Tsering, and others. In the United States the renegade Tibetn lama Chogyam Trungpa, working closely with Allen Ginsburg, published a book of his English - language poems in 1983. More recently, publications have emerged in India showcasing work by younger, lay writers such as Buchung D. Sonam, Tenzin Tsundue, Thubten Chakrishar, Tsamchoe Dolma and others. Since 2002 the work of Tsering Wangmo Dhompa has attracted increasing attention in the United States. Bhuchung Sonam has edited an anthology of exile Tibetan verse (Muses in Exile, Paljor, 2004) containing work by 30 Tibetan poets writing in English, and has estimated that two to three hundred Tibetans may have written or published English-language verse in India and elsewhere.

As Tsering Wangmo Dhompa noted in her essay "Nostalgia in Contemporary Tibetan Poetics" these poems are largely about the experience of exile and of the loss that defines that condition."

We are entrusting a language different front our mother tongue to speak of the loss or the absence of a country", Ms. Dhompa has written. The work of Tsoltim Shakabpa, the most senior of the current groups of exile poets, exemplifies this predicament. His own views on this issue are presented in an essay originally written for the Tibetan Bulletin but included in this volume, entitled "The Role of English in Poetry by Tibetan”. There he suggests that the Tibetan writer should "First write down what the heart feels in whatever language the writer feels most comfortable with and then use the English language to interpret that feeling”.

Reflecting an openness that is relatively new to the exile community, he goes on to welcome the use of Chinese as a language of expression by Tibetans writing in China. English is no longer the only option for Tibetans aiming to reach a wider audience.

Tibetans now write in modes that reflect the places and societies in which they find themselves, and Shakabpa’s own poems have been described (not apparently, unfavourably) by the Tibetan journalist, T. N, Khortsa as "nostalgic yet very American".

In essence, however, they are characteristic of Tibetan exile poetry: they too focus on the loss of nationhood, admiration for the Dalai Lama, animosity and pain concerning Cl1ina’s role in Tibet, and fascination with the concepts of karma and impermanence. Above all, they share a privilege given to the importance of emotional recollection. Shakabpa’s poems, however, have a very particular style and energy, They are organized according to two principal devices, those of parallelism and antithesis. Framed as sets of parallel clauses, they offer sharply opposing concepts: "The Dalai Lama seeks Buddhism / The Chinese seek colonialism? In some cases the contrast is made sharper by the use of radically contracted forms, where verbs, punctuations and other parts of speech arc omitted: "China is / racially Han / historically ancient / politically communist / economically capitalist? Punctuation is sparse or non-existent. The contrasts are paradoxical: an element of shock is involved- Other surprises come with the content: some poems are discussions of terrorism, or echoes American popular songs and speeches by President Kennedy; one is a series of mock nursery rhymes about the fall of Saddam Hussein. All the pieces are marked by an energetic, didactic force in which words are tools, consciously shifted or displaced to achieve sharpened, pedagogic impact.

Thus we see reflected throughout this work the continuing sense of urgency that dominates the exile experience. As the sense of loss accumulates, now approaching sixty years, concomitant anxieties about long - term deprivation and uncertainty arise, always within the context and vocabulary of the culture within which the exile writers currently find themselves. But those transnational echoes and references, and the use of a foreign language, conceal permutations of a longer historical drive that is central to these poems, for behind the work of Tsoltim Shakabpa and his peers resonate, in very different, contemporary and deracinated terms, many of the vital concerns and fears that must have preoccupied his father in the final delegation sent by Lhasa to the Indian, American, British and Chinese capitals in 1948. The publication of these poems therefore represents both an innovation and a continuity in the efforts of exile Tibetans to call for recognition of their identity and their situation in a rapidly changing, globalised world.

Robert Barnett, PhD
Adjunct Professor and Director, Modern Tibetan Studies Program Associate Research Scholar in International and Public Affairs Columbia University New York, NK U.S.A.

About the Author

Tsoltim Ngima Shakabpa was born in Lhasa. Tibet on September 7, 1943. he was educated in Tibet, India and the United States. He worked for the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in India and was a senior American international banker until he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in October 1993. He battled his way to good health through western medicine and meditation but was stuck down again with a debilitating stroke in January 1999. Despite these setbacks, in 2002 Mr. Shakabpa wrote a book of poems entitled, RECORDS D’UN TIBETA, which was published in the Catalan language by the prestigious Spanish publishing firm, Pages Editors. In April 2002 he received the EDITORS CHOICE AWARD for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry from the International Library of Poetry. In June 2003, Mr. Shakabpa’s inspiring new book of poems entitled, RECOLLECTIONS OF A TIBETAN, was published by the reputable United States publishing firm, Publish America, Inc., and in early 2004 he was selected as ONE OF THE BEST POETS OF 2003. In addition, his long-awaited TIBETAN, was published in 2005 by Paljor Publications in New Delhi. This book received spectacular reviews for its singularity and candor. And finally, his latest collection of poems, ODDS AND ENDS, was published by Red Lead Press in the United States in 2006.

In March 2007, his old high school, the prestigious St. Joseph’s School, North Point, in Darjeeling, West Bengal, India, awarded him the “first” MOST DISTINGUISHED NORTH POINT ALUMNI AWARD for significant contribution to the world and to his community through his profession in life.

Now Mr. Shakabpa has written this enthralling new collection of poems entitled, VOICE OF TIBET, which knocks the wind out of Chinese colonialism and bursts open the door to the truisms of life and death. This magnificent book should be an inspiration to all supporters of free Tibet and to all those in search of mental and spiritual peace.

Mr. Tsoltim Ngima Shakabpa is the son of the eminent Tibetan scholar, historian and statesman, TSEPON Wangchuk Deden Shakabpa, and is the Executive Director of his late father’s memorial foundation, TSEPON WANGCHUK DEDEN SHAKABPA MEMORIAL FOUNDATION. Like his famous father, he is a strong advocate for the independence of Tibet. His poetries are marked with philosophical inspiration, romanticism, patriotism and a fighting spirit-all expressed with a touch of American candor and Tibetan charm.


Foreword 1
The Role Of English In Poetry By Tibetans 7
Song Of The Dying 11
Ask But Not Ask 12
My Daughter 14
My Son 15
The XIVth Dalai Lama 16
Be Aware 17
Saddam Hussein And Sons (Nursery Rhymes) 18-19
Right The Wrong 20
Tibet! My Tibet 21-22
Five Senses 23
People Power 24
An Ant’s Life 25-26
Sad World 27
A Lovely Dream 28
Contentment 29
Body Mind And Soul 30
Turning Point 31
School On A Hill 32-33
Boya And Lina Mohindar 34
Call For Help 35
In My 60s36
When Terrorism Came Out Of` The Closet 37
Love And Hatred 38
Imagination 39
Hope 40
A Perfect Time And A Right Time 41-42
Hopeless Hope 43-44
Wangchuk Deden’s Last Prayer 45
Forgive Them 46
Haiku 47
Tsoltim’s Journey 48
Chances Are 50-51
Life And Death 52
An Appeal To The Tibetan Government-In-Exile 53
Kismet 54
China Is 55-56
My Friend From Lhasa 57
Futile Escape 58
Silver Lining 59
Nirvana 60
Memories 61
Eyes Closed Shut 62
The Question Of Tibet 63-64
Forget Me Not 65
Random Thoughts 66
Taste God’s Power 67
The Pearl Of Tibet 68
Perfect Couple 69
Phintsok & Pema Thonden 70
Winds Of Change 71
Living And Dying 72
Life 73
A New Beginning 74
Final Curtain 75
Wedding Wishes 76
Tortured Tibet 77
Missing You 78
Save Our Children 79
Gemini 80
Purpose Of Life 81
Cancer Zapper 82
O! Tibet! 83
Lhasa Moon (A light, romantic songs) 84
Optimism and Pessimism 85
Anger Management 86
The Dalai Lama Seeks 87
Non-Violence VS Violence 88-89
Time 90
Geniusness and Madness 91
Parting 92
Quest 93
Nature’s Message 94
Tibet Is My Country 95
Precious Life 96-97
Call Of The Wild 98-99
Vilma, My Wife 100
The Master Chef 101-102
Cancer In Our Society 103
The Soul Of Tibet 104
Gad 105
Criticisms 106
Be King And Servant 107
Telling The Truth 108
Tribute To My Parents 109
Tibetan Passport 110
An Interlude With Today 111
Eternal Bliss 112
We Shall Overcome 113
Selected Thoughts 114
Meeting Death 115
The Dalai Lama 116
Loss of Country 117
Remember The Days Of Old 118-119
Flying Over Nests 120
Chinese Ties 121
My Parents Dear 122
Iraq! O! Iraq! 123
Why? 124
Life of a Tibetan 125
The Silent Majority Speaks 126-127
I Dream A Dream 128
I Am A Survivor 129
Pema Yudon (The Turquoise Tara On A Lotus Flower) 130
An Ode To My Uncle, Thubten Tsepal Taikhang 131
A Middle Path 132
Have Will, Will Live 133
Greener On The Other Side 134-135
Girl Of My Dreams 136
Brother-In-Law 137
Life After Death 138
Success Of Liberty 139
Fall Not, Fail Not, Falter Not 140
Why Can’t We All Get Along 141
I Believe 142
My Precious Lotus Flower 143
You and Me 144-145
Tibet and China 146
Odds And Ends 147
A Question Of Life And Death 148
The Highway Versus The Freeway 149
I Am An Optimist 150
Merry-Go-Round 151
A Simple Monk 152
Life, Then And Now 153
Tibet Will Not Fall 154
The Color 155
The Heart, Soul And Mind of Poetry 156
The Chinese Government 157
If 158
The Dilemma and the Joy 159
Recollections 160
The Pendulum 161
I Predict 162-163
Ebb Of Death 164
Think 165
Up, Not Down 166
My Precious Partner 167-168
I Am A Tibetan 169
Voices of Freedom 170
The Chinese Dilemma 171
What God Hath Given To Tibet 172
Freedom 173
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling 174
Undesirable Company 175
The Way 176
Take Life In Stride 177
Political Jargon 178
Nirvana 179
The Colors of Life 180
Nine Eleven 181
Destiny 182
Shattered But Hopeful183
What Choice? 184
The Question 185
World Disappearance 186
I Pray 187-188
The Good And the Bad 189
Quotable Quotes 190
A Love Song 191
The News 192
Act Now 193
Old Age 194-195
Lost Tibet 196-197
The Nun 198
Wandering Minstrels 199
Satan 200
Terrorism 201-202
Mother 203
Precious Jewel 204
The Environment 205
The Greatest Story Ever Sold 206-207
The Good Earth 208
This And That 209
Dream Come True210
Attachment 211
Aliens 212
Whither? 213
I See 214-215
A Vision Of Death 216-217
Attraction Of Opposites 218
Going Somewhere 219
Tso1tim’s Law 200
History Will Tell 221
I Want To 222
If You Can 223
Does No One Care? 224
The Entrance 225
Tibetan Speak 226
A Vision From the Past 227-228
Tibetan Sentinel 229
Food For Tought 230-231
Animal Wisdom 232
Perseverance Personified 233
Fate 234
Talk With Me, China 235-236
Missing Tibet 237
The Will Of Tibet 238
Dry Tears and Sore Throat 239
Smooth Sailing 240
Happiness 241
David And Goliath (Tibet And China) 242
Karmic Forces 243-244
The Bear And The Bees 245
Torn Between Two Countries 246
Fly In My Eye 247-249
A Stroke Victim’s Ambition 250
My Mother: My Gardener, My Sun 251
My Father, The Incomparable 252-253
Know Ye All 254
I See A Light 255
Voice Of Tibet 256-257
Thank you, O Lord 258
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