Khin Aung Aye

Portrait Khin Aung Aye
© Ali Ghandtschi

The Burmese poet Khin Aung Aye was born in Rangoon in 1956, where he grew up and studied. His father came from Laputta in the Irrawaddy delta, his mother’s home was on the Ramree Islands. He began writing in 1979, and avant-garde poetry was his first inspiration. From 1980 onwards, he was employed by various public authorities. He learned English at the time from U Tha Noe, which was, as he later said, of great help on his way to poetry. He was particularly impressed by Aung Cheimt, Maung Chaw Nwe, Thukhamein Hlaing and Paing Soe Way, who became his role models. After 1985, he was accidentally involved in the smuggling business. Later he worked as a street bookseller, a truckers’ assistant, and also as a manager for an Export Company. From 1993 to 1996, he was the poetry editor for »The Sea« Art and Literature Magazine. No matter how he made a living, poetry was always part of Khin Aung Aye’s everyday life.

From 1990 to 2000 he wrote poems for several magazines, including »Youpshin Tei kavya«, »Hanthit« and »Yanantthit«. However, his texts were often censored, and he had to withdraw them. In Burma, where there is a lot of scepticism concerning foreign books and the internet, and where censorship rules, novelists and poets like Khin Aung Aye are forced to write in an encoded way. Thus, his language is full of metaphors, and he experiments with poetic traditions and different styles. At the beginning he preferred four-syllable verses. Under the influence of the famous Burmese Literature Magazine Moe Wei (1980s), however, he discovered freer forms. In 1990 he wrote and published a chapbook called, »Poems 1990«. These poems were published in the print edition»Two Men and a Poem«, which he produced together with Maung Pyiyt Min in 2000. After 2003 Khin Aung Aye suffered from a temporary inability to write, which he could overcome after 2007, when he had read the published and non-published of Zeyar Lynn’s books about the post modern poetry. Several of his poems were included in »Bones Will Crow«, an anthology of 15 Burmese poets, edited by James Byrne and Ko Ko Thett in 2012 and published by Arc Publications.

Upon being invited by the Korean Writers Association, Khin Aung Aye travelled to Korea in 2009, where he gave readings and was involved in a dialogue with Burmese and Korean writers. He was a guest of the Korean ASEAN Poets Literature Festival in 2010. In 2011 he was invited to read his poems in the UK. Now Khin Aung Aye lives in Bangkok.