Moe Tin 1933 - 2007 (74)

Culture is the heritage of the people, indestructible and forever.


Each With Its

Own Grace

Tin Moe (1933-2007) was one of Mianmar's most important poet of the 20th century. Born in the village of Kanmyè, near the city of Taungtha in central Mianmar, he began writing poetry for local magazines at the age of 17. After high school, he went to Mandalay, the historic center of Burmese culture and studied literature at the University there. He worked as a teacher in many high schools and universities and he never stopped writing poetry. In 1959, at the age of twenty-six, he published his first collection, "The Glass Lantern" (Hpan-mee-ein), which won the National Literary Prize for poetry. In 1967 he moved to Yangon, then the capital, where he worked in the translation and publishing department of Yangon University for twenty years.

In addition to poetry, he wrote many lyrics for children that became popular songs and appeared in textbooks and children's movies making him known to a wider audience. He learned how influential his works for children were when he was detained in a police station before his trial in 1991. The place was dirty and the food for the detainees was awful, but he was served excellent meals; he later learned that his meal were prepared by the wives of the policemen of the department to show himn their gratitude for his children's songs which was so popuular among their children.

He was eventually sentenced to four years in prison by the country's military government for his lyrics as he was a supporter of the democracy movement. His work was banned and in 1999, shortly before another possible arrest, he managed to escape after issuing a passport with his lesser-known real name, Ba Gyan. He wrote many poems about the nostalgia he had for his homeland, but he never managed to return. He lived as a political refugee in Europe and the United States and he travelled all over the world attending literary events. He died in Los Angeles, where his daughter lived, on January 22, 2007, a few months before the historic Burmese People's Uprising, known as the Saffron Revolution.