The Art Garden Rohingya Interview With the poet RY Mg Mg Khin
The Art Garden Rohingya is the first Rohingya community poetry and art platform. We publish poetry and other forms of artworks in print, online website and social media and hence, encouraging Rohingya writers and artists as well as promoting our Rohingya literature, culture, tradition and art.. We, therefore conduct some interviews with our poet and artist in order to learn how he or she believes in literature and creating artwork.
The opinions and views in the following interview are solely those of the poet and artist and do not necessarily reflect the Art Garden Rohingya.
AG: Can you please tell us something about yourself? Your name, age and township you were born in Myanmar?
MMK: “I’m Maung Maung Khin @ Pacifist Spider. I am 23 years old now. I was born in Buthidaung, Arakan, Myanmar.”
AG: What is your best memory in your childhood in Myanmar?
MMK: “My best memory is when I passed the matriculation exam with four distinctions in 2014, I was the one and only 4D winner in the township. My village is situated in rural area and I was going back home from downtown with a great news. When I reached at the jetty of my native, I was welcomed by my friends and villagers since they heard about my success. I was congratulated and hugged one by one. I was the first student in village who got distinctions in matriculation. At home, I was surrounded by my family members and relatives. For the first time, I saw the tears of happiness in their eyes. That moment, atmosphere and love I could never forget in my life.”
AG: What is your educational background?
MMK: “I passed my matriculation exam with distinctions in 2014. Due to racial discrimination, I was denied from getting my medical specialization and was banned from attending University of Medicine since then. Since childhood, I wanted to be a doctor to cure people regardless of colour, race and religion. But my dream shattered as I was not given the key to my doors to reach my final destination. I am now a private teacher by profession, rising students in community. Recently I was honoured by Gujarat Sahitya Academy and Motivational Strips, The World’s Most Active Writers Forum, On The Occasion Of India’s 74th Independence Day for Showing Literary Excellence At Par With Global Standards including 350 global writers from 80 countries.”
AG: What inspires you to write poetry? Why do you write it?
MMK: “I happened to read some poems of my friends, published at The Art Garden Rohingya, the first Rohingya community-led art platform. Then I sent my first poem there and it was published after two weeks. Seeing my first poem published enhanced my confidence that I could write about the screams and tears of my people. Gradually, my heartbeats don’t allow me to sleep with silence and my pen not to keep unspeaking in writing about the most persecuted Rohingya community who have been denied every single human right for decades, I am one of them.”
AG: Who is your favorite poet or writer? Why do you prefer him or her?
MMK: “Saya Abdul Khan and Saya Yar Tin are my favorite poets. Saya Abdul Khan often writes different kinds of quotes on social media, some of which are motivational and some are on religion. Everyday, Saya Yar Tin writes at least one Burmese poem or one story related to our people which reflects what and how the Rohingya have been suffering and facing for decades. Through their compositions, I get plenty of helpful tips that make my mind more creative and my pen sharper. The apparent reason why I prefer them is only because of their creative and deep writing style.
I also prefer three prominent authors, Mayyu Ali from Burma (Author of Exodus), Brenda Mohammad from UK (Founder of How To Write for Success) and Dr. Nk Sharma from India (Founder of POEMARIUM). The three of them also inspire me by their heart-touching and brilliant poetry verses.”
AG: How many poems have you published, so far in the Art Garden Rohingya and other outlets?
MMK: “Well, I’ve published 16 English and 3 Burmese poems at The Art Garden Rohingya and many are being composed now. I am the author of the poetry book ”Pacifist Spider At Cage” released by Litlight, Pakistan. Many of my poetry have been published in many of international magazines, news papers, popular websites and anthologies. I’ve co-authored more than five poetry books, ‘Signature of Truth: An anthology of poems’, ‘MUSINGS: An anthology of selected 100 poets’, ‘The Art of Growing Up: A collection of Short Stories’, ‘LOCKDOWN DIARIES: An anthology of My COVID Experience’, ‘Christmas In Our Hearts: An anthology of poems’, ‘Love Thy Mother: A collection of poems’, ‘HUM ON HUMANITY: A journal Devotes to Humankind’.”
AG: What is your first published poem? How were you feeling seeing it published?
MMK: “My first published poem is ‘How Could I Leave You Alone?’. I wrote this poem when the situation made me separated from my loved one. By the time I saw it published, I was so excited that some of my facebook friends were enjoying it giving good reactions. From that day, writing poetry has become my passion.”
AG: What do you want to be in your future?
MMK: “I want to be a prominent writer for my people both to preserve our own art, culture, identity and history and to write on Rohingya women rights and their cultural barriers in Myanmar.”
AG: Who is your hero?
MMK: “My heroes are Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and my father. Prophet’s inspirational words always flow in my blood-stream to stand on the right paths. My father’s advice is only to always keep faith in Allah. He gave me his input and unconditional effort to be the one who I am now even though as the government servant, he was poorly paid when I was studying at school.”
AG: Can you tell us your personal experience amid this pandemic COVID-19? How does it affect you and your family?
MMK: “The pandemic COVID-19, a fatal disease, is invading us worldwide making millions quarantined and many others stayed at home. To be frank, it leads to multiple deaths unlike natural disasters. Any natural disasters take just a few hours to destroy and make deaths. But this pandemic has taken almost a year that has made people fearful of death. Due to this serial skiller, all mosques, churches, schools and colleges are shut down. At present days, our children cannot learn education and people now have not only limited areas to travel but also committed time to stay at home. So to tell the honest truth, people cannot go to work freely and are suffering different layers of challenges and hunger at every corner of the world. Because of our country being very poor, we suffer a lot to survive our lives. As a result, we have no peace of mind and health of body and almost everything of us has been driven out by COVID-19.”
AG: Is there internet in your area where you currently reside? If not, can you explain how it affects your work?
MMK: “Of course not! Internet has been banned in our areas by Myanmar government since 2019. We have no access to good internet, just 2G signal is available here in these days. It takes some minutes to send a text by this connection. During this pandemic period, internet is vital importance for the people to know about health information in details. I do believe that internet is as essential as the water that people need to rely. We know what is happening in the world through internet. We could learn new things and skills through online. Having no internet, there are several challenges we are facing in communication, movement and work. During this horrible time, we cannot publish our work on time and have been highly affacted in our daily life.”
AG: What message do you want to send for Rohingya new generation?
MMK: ”Always be positive, authentic and have community spirit then your destiny will automatically but precisely lead you to your final destination.”
AG: What is your message for your Rohingya community?
MMK: ”Never betray to your own people even if you have to kill yourself for them and let our children hold pens and books rather than luxuries and foods to preserve our own identity and mark our own history and the one and only final message for my community is to empower our Rohingya women like a plant for amazing fruits.”
AG: According to you, how much the art and literature are important for a community? How would you revive and maintain Rohingya art and culture?
MMK: “Alright, the art and literature are crucially important for a community. Art reflects and preserves culture, passes from one generation to another. Literature maintains identity and history and identifies social class of a community. So, let’s keep our Rohingya art and literature revived together.”
AG: Thank you so much for your time and patience doing this interview with us.
MMK: “Finally but respectfully, I would like to thank to the Editorial Team for your priceless time and patience for giving me this great opportunity to let me express my deep-rooted feelings. It is a great honor for me to be a part of this amazing team. My sincere thanks to those allreaders who always support and wish me with heartfelt words.”