South South Dialogue

A collaboration of our South African branch with cultural institutions, partners, artists and writers with other countries of the global South.

Poet Han Lynn from Myanmar will be resident of the Sylt Foundation in november this year. This residency is a collaboration with the Wordfest in Harare and it's curator Chirikure Chirikure.

Han Lynn

Han Lynn, born in 1986, is a Burmese poet and translator. After growing up in Kalaw, a picturesque town in Shan State, bordering Thailand in eastern Myanmar, he has lived in Yangon since 2001. He often translates international poetry into Burmese. Dozens of his poems, translations and articles have been published in several Burmese magazines, journals and anthologies. Three of his poems are featured in the January 2015 issue of Eleven Eleven Journal and five in Poetry International Web Netherland ( ).Han Lynn’s debut collection of poems, named kyaung taya (Hundred Cats, 2013), has turned him into a celebrated ailurophile. His second book, No Matter How Far Communication was published in 2014. He was a participant of Irrawaddy Literary Festival held in Yangon in 2012. Apart from literary works, he has been working as a freelance guitar instructor since 2004, and his main interest is plucked string instruments.

Han Lynn’s poems



It didn’t know where to land
until I signed an H

with the corpses
of my comrades.

© 2015, Han Lynn
From: Eleven Eleven, 18, 2015
© Translation: 2015, ko ko thett
From: Eleven Eleven, 18, 2015


When I perfume myself, my twenty feet ambit exudes musk.
Wrapped in the fragrance, I walk about in crowded places.
My attar surely turns heads in front of me.

It also turns heads behind me.

Myself? I just keep strolling, walking on in sweetness, pleased, but embarrassed.

© 2015, Han Lynn
From: Eleven Eleven, 18, 2015
© Translation: 2015, ko ko thett

From: Eleven Eleven, 18, 2015


 In this loka, a person is bound
to be smitten by an insect, at least once.
People usually don’t clash –
their umbrellas do.
A man attempts to throw himself off from a great height.
Why stop him?
Let him finish himself before
the rescuers arrive.
The birdwatcher’s been defeated this time.
He doesn’t know the names of the birds.
He no longer knows. They are heading towards his country,
Specifically towards his town. More specifically, towards his home.
He trembles in fright.
He speed-dials home.
He warns his wife to close all the doors and windows.
He is telling her to close all the doors and windows now.
He will photograph the birds and send the files to the
Ornithologists for identification.
‘Keep the cats in the cat house.’
‘Alarm the neighbours, the police and the monastery.’
He assures her, ‘Keep calm.
I will catch the first flight in the morning.
I’ll be there
before those birds land at our doorsteps.’

© 2015, Han Lynn
From: Eleven Eleven, 18, 2015
© Translation: 2015, ko ko thett
From: Eleven Eleven, 18, 2015
Translator's Note: loka is a Sanskrit word for material and immaterial worlds. 


The coffin doesn’t fit
In the elevator
Let’s keep it vertical

The body will
Be standing

Isn’t a coffin always
Too heavy? Shall we put  
This one on wheels?

A coffin pusher

An elevator
In a high-rise

© Han Lynn
First published on Poetry International, 2015
© Translation: 2015, ko ko thett
First published on Poetry International, 2015


I have to sit still
Lest roaches climb up my legs
When I was young
I didn’t sit still
A roach walked up my legs
It was gone 
Before I could shake it off
They say it went inside me
Maybe the roach is still inside me
When you are faced with a pack of roaches
You must sit still
When you sit still, roaches sit still
If you don’t sit still
They will march up your legs
To sit still means
Sit quiet
They can hear you
They know where you are when they hear you
They will climb up your legs
I sit quiet now 
I sit in the dark, hope they cannot see me
Maybe they have night vision, I don’t know
Even if they don’t see me, they might smell me
Do they have nose, those roaches
I can’t see them through the dark
I am alone
I put my legs up
Lest the creeps creep up on my legs
Then to my waist, then to my head
Don’t underestimate the roaches
Don’t undercalculate the roaches
I feel itchy here and there
A roach always smells, I know 
The roach smell
It smells uncertainty
If you smell a roach, it’s near you
Would they spread their wings to land on me
They also have wings
Who in her right mind
Put wings on a roach
They want to climb up my legs
They are probably looking for the roach inside me
They want to rescue
The roach inside me
The roach inside me calls for help
Roaches are everywhere
They follow where I go 
They try to climb up my legs
A roach on your body
Is a bad omen 
When a roach lands on your body
Something untoward will happen
They climb up your legs to show you who they are
The roach inside me is restless
I laughed if off when
They accused me of katsaridaphobia
I used to get a kick out of
Killing roaches
I let some of the roaches live
I removed their legs, their hands
Their whiskers, and their wings, I turned them upside down
Oh, how much enjoyed the sight of roaches 
Struggling to get back on their missing legs
I poked them with a pin
Cockroach eggs were there for me to crush for fun
It was fun, really fun
In my past life
I must have been a roach
In my next life
I might be a roach again
And the roaches I killed will be humans
Then it’s their turn to get back at me
If I let a roach climb up my legs now
The rest of them will follow
In no time my body will be covered in roaches
Once a roach is on you
It doesn’t know how to climb down
Before, roaches weren’t much of a problem
It didn’t matter how many of them were on me
I was able to shake them off.

© Han Lynn
First published on Poetry International, 2015
© Translation: 2015, ko ko thett
First published on Poetry International, 2015