Home Institution

George Washington University

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples


The chief aim of this study is to establish a working knowledge of contemporary Tibetan poetry and attain a sense of its development both chronologically and through displacement via diaspora. This is achieved by a brief analytical comparison between traditional and modern forms of Tibetan poetry on the basis of structure, language, content, themes, functions and uses. The frustration between the desire for cultural preservation and the desire for innovation within the Tibetan exile community is also explored. Ultimately this coalesces in a collection of original poetry that reflects the elements of contemporary Tibetan poetry and the pain of life in exile as related to and observed by me. Methods The methodology employed comprised of background research on traditional genres of Tibetan poetry, which included the works of the sixth Dalai Lama Tsang-yang Gyatso and Milarepa. Contemporary works of poetry and music such as those by Tenzin Tsundue, Bhuchung D. Sonam, Lhasang Tsering and Tamding were also explored and analyzed. Follow-up interviews were conducted with these artists about the intentions, language choices, structure choices and proposed functions of their work. I also conducted interviews with and analyzed the works of local unpublished poets, such as Tashi Sangye. In addition, observations were conducted at the Tibetan Children’s Village where many poets in exile seem to get their start. I also interviewed the head mistress, Tsering Yangkyr, about education and curriculum. Tenzin Jigdal, program coordinator of Students for a Free Tibet was also an invaluable resource in the explanation of uses of culture, poetry and music as political resistance. Furthermore, Tibetan English speaking exile youth culture was surveyed through participation, observation and conversation. This information was then analyzed under an anthropological and linguistic anthropological lens. What follows is an academic discussion of my findings and a subsequent creative expression of them.


Creative Writing | Critical and Cultural Studies | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Poetry | Reading and Language


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