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English anthology of Taiwan indigenous literature to be launched

2015/01/29 17:32:08

Taipei, Jan. 29 (CNA) The Council of Indigenous Peoples will launch its first English-language anthology of Taiwan indigenous literature at the upcoming Taipei International Book Exhibition to give English readers greater access to literary works by Taiwan's aboriginal writers.

The four-book set, titled "The Anthology of Taiwan Indigenous Literature," consists of selections of poetry, prose and short stories by over 30 poets and writers, as well as a chronicle of significant events in Taiwan indigenous literature between 1951 and 2014, said Lo Mei-ching (羅美菁), senior executive officer of the council's Department of Education and Culture.

A total of 1,500 copies of the anthology will be available at the book fair, which runs Feb. 11-16 at the Taipei World Trade Center, Lo, who also goes by her aboriginal name Wagi Taro, told CNA Wednesday.

As the books have yet to be priced, Lo said her council will decide later if it will sell the books or distribute them for free at the fair.

Monanen (莫那能), a poet from the Paiwan tribe whose works have been included in the anthology, said he wrote the poem "When the Bells Ring" for Taiwanese aboriginal children who were sold into prostitution in the past, including his own sister.

Monanen, who lost his sight as a result of an accident, said he felt "extreme pain" after learning about the ordeals of his sister and other child prostitutes.

"This poem is for them," he said.

"When the church bells ring/ Do you know, mama?/ The injection of hormones brings a premature end to your daughter's childhood/ When the school bells ring/ Papa, do you know?/ In the brothel, the bodyguards' punch has foreclosed your daughter's laughter," the poem reads.

"We hope that English readers will get the chance to find out about Taiwanese indigenous literature through the anthology," Lo said.

"Many of the works show the writers' concern for society and their thoughts on ethnic issues," she said. "They address a diverse range of topics."

The anthology will be among over 500 publications to go on display at the Council of Indigenous Peoples' pavilion, which is being organized for the first time at the fair, said Lamark Balimodai (巴唐志強), an officer with the council's Department of Education and Culture.

They will also include manuscripts, historical documents and oral histories, as well as scholarly publications, Balimodai said.

In addition, over 30 Taiwanese indigenous writers, including Walis Nokan (瓦歷斯‧諾幹), Syaman Rapongan (夏曼‧藍波安) and Badai (巴代), will attend the fair to meet visitors, he added.

Ara Kimbo (胡德夫) and other indigenous singers and musicians will also perform at the pavilion, he added.

As this year's theme country is New Zealand, Lo Mei-ching said her council has also organized trips to bring New Zealand Maori writers to Taiwanese indigenous tribes so that the two sides can learn more about each other.

(By Christie Chen)
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