The Council of Indigenous Peoples is to launch its first English-language anthology of Taiwanese Aboriginal literature at the Taipei International Book Exhibition to give English-language readers greater access to literary works by Aboriginal writers.
The four-book set, titled The Anthology of Taiwan Indigenous Literature, consists of selections of poetry, prose and short stories by more than 30 poets and writers, as well as a chronicle of significant events in Taiwanese Aboriginal literature between 1951 and last year, said Wagi Taro, senior executive officer of the council’s Department of Education and Culture.
A total of 1,500 copies of the anthology are to be made available at the book fair, which runs from Wednesday next week to Feb. 16 at the Taipei World Trade Center, she said.
As the books have yet to be priced, the council will decide later if it will sell the books or distribute them for free at the fair, she added.
Monanen, a poet from the Paiwan tribe whose works have been included in the anthology, said he wrote the poem When the Bells Ring for Taiwanese Aboriginal children who were sold into prostitution, including his own sister.
Monanen, who lost his sight as a result of an accident, said he felt “extreme pain” after learning about the ordeals of his sister and other child prostitutes.
“This poem is for them,” he said.
“When the church bells ring/Do you know, mama?/The injection of hormones brings a premature end to your daughter’s childhood/When the school bells ring/Papa, do you know?/In the brothel, the bodyguards’ punch has foreclosed your daughter’s laughter,” the poem reads.
“We hope that English readers will get the chance to learn about Taiwanese Aboriginal literature through the anthology,” Wagi Taro said.
“Many of the works show the writers’ concern for society and their thoughts on ethnic issues,” she said. “They address a diverse range of topics.”
The anthology will be among more than 500 publications to go on display at the council’s first-ever pavilion at the fair, said Lamark Balimodai, an officer with the council’s Department of Education and Culture.
They will also include manuscripts, historical documents and oral histories, as well as academic publications, Balimodai said.
In addition, more than 30 Taiwanese indigenous writers, including Walis Nokan, Syaman Rapongan and Badai, are to attend the fair to meet visitors, he added.
Kimbo and other Aboriginal singers and musicians are also to perform at the pavilion, he added.
As this year’s theme country is New Zealand, Wagi Taro said the council has also organized trips to bring New Zealand Maori writers to Taiwanese Aboriginal tribes so that the two sides can learn more about each other.