This evening, at The Great Overland Book Company in the Inner Sunset, authors Maw Shein Win and Kenneth Wong read poems and essays about Burma, interspersed with musical accompaniment by musicologist, Rick Heizman.

Rick Heizman, playing the Burmese Harp. He also soothed and entertained us with instruments from Zimbabwe and Vietnam.

Kenneth read essays about his life as a writer (or, rather, his family's reactions to this) and growing up in Burma. Here, he reads about the first television set in his neighborhood, which was in his living room, and the social pecking order that ensued--he explains how, when his mother served a plate of samosas, the plate took a zig-zag pattern through the rows of movie-watchers and how, because of this civilized nature, these crowds were easier to tame than those outside the inner circle, peeking through their blinds. Kenneth is the author of A Prayer for Burma.

He also read a piece by Novel Peace Laureate and Burma People's Leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent years under house arrest in Burma by the brutal military dictatorship. On Saturday, March 10th there will be a benefit for Burma Human Rights Day in Berkeley. Information about the event is at www.badasf.org. The event includes dinner; presentations by scholars, activsts, and a youth who recently visited refugees' schools; and a film, Burma - Inside the Secret City.

(Maw--I was too shy about getting my camera out when you were reading!)
Maw read touching, funny and serious poems and prose about growing up Burmese in Nevada, which included an aside about vegetables and her collection of Barbie doll heads, and her desire to make friends with the one other minority student in her 4th grade class, an Indian girl with fabulous clothes.

Here's Maw and Kenneth.