Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Tanka

flames
enveloped Lâm Văn Tức
Saigon, 1963...
a Tunisian set himself
on fire, an Egyptian...



published in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Sketchbook


(Note: The tanka is written for the courageous peoples for who are fighting against autocratic governments.

Lâm Văn Tức (1897 – 11 June 1963), a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk, set himself on fire performing a ritual suicide in protest against the persecution of Buddhists by the US-backed corrupt South Vietnamese government. The photo of his self-immolation was circulated widely and brought close attention to the larger structural and ideological causes of the Vietnam War.

Tunisian unrest began in December, 2010 after Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old unemployed university graduate who sold fruit and vegetables on the street without a permit, set himself on fire in a suicide attempt after police confiscated his grocery cart. Copycat self-immolations have followed in at least four other North African states.