Presenting poetry from Burundi is not an easy task. T.S. Eliot seemed to think true poetry is hardly translated, and one needs to truly sense where those words are from. Until the emergence of the modern, there was no need of presentingpoetry, for poetry was part of life.
….do you feel her drive?
Look at his eyes,
Do you read his verse? 
But the unity of life, some will say, was lost with the last myth and cosmic societies, that Burundi belonged to until a century ago. Dissolved by the increasing requirements of the modern world, several separate and independent spheres were born. One of them, the arts and culture, has grown (often unwillingly) to acquire the function of precisely representing the lost unity.
Beyond their powers to express the various contradictions and sensitivities, the world literature offers us symbolic levers for an understanding and appropriation of our lives. The young contemporary Burundian literature is best understood in this context, which is of an attempt to understand its environment and express its sensibility to the world.
In his academic book La Littérature de langue française au Burundi,  Professor J. Ngorwanubusa of the University of Burundi regrets however the few avenues for the literature of Burundi. There is barely any publishing house; a few reviews had been existing in the 1960s and 1970s but never survived except a few Christian reviews run by a few members of the Burundi Catholic Church.
But the interested literary person won’t miss the corners behind the central market where the old (often stolen!) books are sold, the oldest book storeLibrairie St Paul, or the French cultural center (whose interesting café hosts the unfortunately more and more penniless intellectuals in the city!) and of course the newly opened Lire Africa in Gallerie Alexander, specializing in fiction from Africa. A blog by the poet Thierry Manirambona (“la plume burundaise”) lists an impressive archeology of Burundian books old and new, and a few poets do publish their poetry directly on the internet as the acclaimed Ketty Nivyabandi.
Poetry in print might be hard to find in the country, but if you are insisting you will discover the underground intellectual and literary scene of the marvelous Café literaire Samandari that meets every Thursday evening at the Burundi Palace right in the middle of the city center. But one should say they met there, for since a year now these meetings are no longer held. (more…)
By Pauline Fan
An attempt to chart the origins and evolution of modern poetry in Malaysia unearths complex historical processes and cultural interactions that have shaped contemporary Malaysian society. To speak of the writing of poetry in Malaysia, one must grapple with – or at least try to imagine – the essentially pluralist and polyglot nature of its people as well as the changing socio-cultural landscape, where “the map of a thousand lives will be seen* ”.
Malaysia is a country where at least four main languages predominate – Malay, English, Chinese and Tamil, further punctuated by a multitude of dialects and colloquialisms according to clan or region. The multicultural and multilingual population of the Malay Peninsula has been evident since at least the 15th century, when the Sultanate of Malacca rose to become one of the most thriving entrepôts in Asia, drawing merchants, scholars, and envoys from neighbouring kingdoms and faraway empires alike. Successive waves of immigrants from all over the Malay Archipelago, China, and India – some of whom settled, intermarried, and formed new distinct communities and cultures such as the peranakan or Straits-born communities – added yet more layers to the inextricable diversity of Malaysian society.
The conquest of Malacca by Portuguese (1511) and Dutch (1641) imperial powers preceded British colonial control, and later the Japanese occupation, of the Malay Peninsula and the northern provinces of Borneo. Each of these imperialist presences left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of Malaysia, including on the Malay language in the case of Portuguese, Dutch and English, adding to the vast compendium of loanwords in Malay from Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Chinese. The Malay language served as a lingua franca for the Malay Archipelago for centuries, and forms the basis of the standardised national languages of both Malaysia (Bahasa Malaysia) and Indonesia (Bahasa Indonesia), mutually intelligible with some differences in vocabulary and spelling.
Oral traditions and pan-Malay poets
The origins of Malay-language poetry can be traced to the vast and various oral traditions that have been cradled in the Malay Archipelago as well as classical Malay texts known as Hikayat that date back as far as the 14th century. Traditional Malay poetic forms include the syair, the pantun, the gurindamand seloka, all of which are found in both oral and written literature. While traditional or classical, many of these poetic forms are intrinsically innovative, urging improvisation and spontaneous composition. The pantun, for instance, was sometimes performed as balas pantun, a call-and-response ‘duel’ or ‘flirtation’ between two poets, especially during performances of the Dondang Sayang (love ballads) of Malacca. (more…)
Ten of the most interesting writers working in Europe today have been selected for special promotion by an international jury drawn from prestigious literary venues and festivals.
The list includes poets and novelists as well as translators and non-fiction writers from ten European countries – Catalonia, Croatia, Hungary, Portugal, Macedonia, Malta, Norway, Scotland, Slovenia and Turkey, and was announced at the 2016 London Book Fair on Thursday 14 April 2016, as part of the Literary Europe Live project led by lyrikline network partner Literature Across Frontiers.
The New Voices 2016 are:
Juana Adcock (GB)
Bruno Vieira Amaral (PT)
Clare Azzopardi (MT)
Rumena Buzarovska (MK)
Erika Fatland (NO)
Albert Forns (ES)
Anja Golob (SI)
Arpad Kollar (HU)
Ciwanmerd Kulek (TR)
Zoran Pilić (HR)
Over the next twelve months, the work of these ten literary creators will be promoted in a series of live and digital events across the European Union and beyond. An anthology of their writings will also be published.
The aim of the New Voices from Europe selection is to highlight the richness and diversity of European writing in all its genres and languages, including minority languages.
“Our New Voices will be given an opportunity they might not otherwise have with similar international or European awards,” said the Director of Literature Across Frontiers, Alexandra Büchler. “Some of them write in a language which a national jury might not read or their own state does not recognise, despite the fact that it is spoken by millions. Alternatively, they may be writing in a language so small that their readership at home is limited to hundreds and there are few literary translators who can render their work in other languages. But all this does not mean that they should not be heard – so with the New Voices selection, we are doing what Literature Across Frontiers has done for the past fifteen years now. We’re making literature travel, sometimes from the most unexpected places.”
1. Juana Adcock is a poet and translator who has lived in Scotland since (more…)