During summer 2011, I first heard about 100 Thousand Poets for Change through a Facebook post. At first I thought, “I’m too busy to participate in this.” After a while, I realized that being a poet and because of my love for poetry, I could not refuse to support poetry and this is an opportunity to support poetry. The call was to have the poetry reading take place at a public place free of charge. So, I booked a venue. I didn’t have any readers yet and wasn’t sure about any theme or focus. Soon after, I realized that I wanted to focus on Tibet and Tibetan poetry. I didn’t know much about Tibet at the time or Tibetan poetry so I googled and researched. The first Tibetan poet I found online was Tenzin Tsundue and I read his books, KORA and SEMSHOOK, which were available online. I began to learn about the plight of the Tibetan people and really felt for them.
Through Tenzin Tsundue, I got in touch with Techung, a renowned Tibetan singer/musician, who agreed to come perform at the 100 Thousand Poets for Change event in Pasadena, California (in) September 24, 2011. Through Techung, I got in touch with Tsoltim N. Shakabpa, a renowned, local Tibetan poet, who contributed greatly to the event, sharing many of his poems about the plight of the Tibetan people.
When the day arrived, I wasn’t sure what to expect since it was all new to me, but I knew that this was an important event. The goal of the local event was to bring forth more awareness about Tibetan culture and the current situation in Tibet. The event brought together the poetry of many Tibetans - Tsoltim N. Shakabpa, Tenzin Tsundue, Woeser, Jigme Dorjee Dagyap, and Tsering Dhompa. Since the poets were living in other parts of the U.S. and world, the poems were read by volunteers in the audience. The event alternated between beautiful music/singing by Techung, Sherap Sangpo, Michel Tyabji, and Kito Rodriguez and heartfelt poetry. Even though there were not many people present, it was a touching event and shared afterwards with many people through videos and postings online.
In addition, I watched and engaged with poets from other parts of the world and watched their events, supporting various causes, unfold. It was an amazing feeling; there was a sense of global community and work towards a sustainable, peaceful, and better world through poetry. We were taking back the language and narrative and were empowered by the synergy of our collective efforts. The gates of positive change opened on an unprecedented level with poets uniting worldwide.
After the event, I, as an organizer for 100 Thousand Poets for Change, continued to support the Tibetan freedom movement, appearing alongside Tibetans protesting in front of the Chinese Consulate, passing out poems during a march, and supporting the reading of poems by Tibetans in front of the Chinese Consulate, including poems by imprisoned Tibetan poet Tashi Rabten.
The 100 Thousand Poets for Change event that I am organizing this year on September 29, 2012 will focus on Tibetan, Southern Mongolian, and Uyghur poetry. It will also focus on releasing imprisoned poets and writers in China. We are so lucky, in the free world, to have the opportunity to be the voice for those in need. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to make this a better world. 100 Thousand Poets for Change reminds the world to “never lose faith in the power of words.”
by Tsoltim N. Shakabpa
Life is changing
World is changing
Change will come
To all, not some
No matter what we do
Only thing we can doIs decelerate change
Or accelerate change
But change we can’t change
It is real, though strange
And though we may try to deny
We cannot, by nature, defy
Change is a sure fire determinant
In our frail lives which are impermanent