Writings on Tibet



April 2, 2010: YOU ARE ALL INVITED!

The Tibetan Association of Northern California

& The Oakland Asian Cultural Center


are delighted to debut our partnership by co-hosting “Writings on Tibet” featuring readings from three Tibetan and Chinese authors.

What: Writings on Tibet promises an evening filled with rich cultural, historical and personal narratives on Tibet by a linguist Tibetan Buddhist reincarnate Rinpoche, a Chinese-American artist-activist and the first Tibetan woman poet published in the United States.

In Surviving the Dragon, Venerable Arjia Rinpoche opens a fascinating window to the events from Tibetan-Chinese history, while sharing his personal experiences.  In Sky Train:  Tibetan Women On the Edge of History, Canyon Sam reveals for the first time the untold stories of Tibetan womens’ courage and resilience spanning fifty years.  Tsering Wangmo Dhompa’s Imagined Country eloquently paints vignettes of her mother and her family in Eastern Tibet evoking a rich present and a memorable past.

Readings will be followed by Q&A and book signing.

Light refreshments served.

When: April 2, 2010 from 6:30 – 9pm

Where: Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 9th Street, Oakland, CA 94607. For directions, visit www.oacc.cc/visit/directions.html or call (510) 637-0455


Dechen Tsering, President of TANC, (510) 409-9162 or dtsering2005@yahoo.com

April Kim, Program Director OACC, (510) 637-0455 or akim@oacc.cc

Writers’ Biographies

Surviving the DragonVENERABLE ARJIA RINPOCHE – Surviving the Dragon is the story of Arjia Rinpoche’s growing up as the reincarnated abbot in Kumbum, one of Tibet’s six great monasteries. Unlike many stories from Tibet, his memories are not those of torture and suffering under the Chinese but of suffering and fame. As a child, he was treated like a living Buddha; as a young man he emptied latrines and spent 18 years laboring on collective farms, but after the death of Mao Tse Tung, he rose to prominence within the Chinese Buddhist bureaucracy. He became Vice-chairman of the Buddhist Association of China and was slated to become its Chairman.

At the time of his escape to the USA, his life was one of ease, which would have continued if he had agreed to become tutor to the boy whom the Communist Chinese had unconscionably named the 11th Panchen Lama. It was a political move against the Dalai Lama and his Buddhist faith. His conscience would not allow him to be disloyal to the values of his mentor the 10th Panchen Lama or His Holiness the Dalai Lama. As a result, he fled Tibet rather than betray his Buddhist religion and his Tibetan and Mongolian heritage. For the first seven years after his escape from Tibet, Arjia Rinpoche lived in Mill Valley, CA where he established the Tibetan Center for Compassion and Wisdom. Today he divides his time between Mill Valley and Bloomington, Indiana, where he is the Director of the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center, which was founded by the Dalai Lama’s older brother in 1979.

Surviving the Dragon opens a fascinating window to events from inside Tibetan-Chinese history during the final half of the twentieth century, a conflict that continues today between China and its ethnic minorities. For those interested in modern Asian history, it is a chance to learn the “inside story” of events that have been largely a mystery to outsiders. For students of Buddhism, it is an opportunity to understand the survival and resurgence of Tibetan Buddhism in its native land. Arjia Rinpoche would like to present the book to the public by giving a talk about his life and events in Tibet that took place during the time period of the book. He is fluent in Tibetan, Mongolian, Mandarin Chinese, and English.


CANYON SAM is a writer, nationally acclaimed performance artist and activist from San Francisco. Her newly published book Sky Train: Tibetan Women On the Edge of History (University of Washington Press, 2009), with a foreword by the Dalai Lama, reveals for the first time the untold narrative of Tibet from the perspective of its women.  Blending memoir and oral history, the author travels on China’s controversial new “Sky Train” to Lhasa in 2007 and crosses the Himalayas in search of women from her earlier oral history project.  This groundbreaking book reveals gripping stories of women’s resistance, courage and spiritual resilience in fifty years of occupation and gives one of the first inside accounts of the recent and drastic changes in Tibet from the perspective of the Tibetan people. “Remarkable…visceral and deeply felt.” Publishers Weekly starred review. “A miracle of a journey, a miracle of a book.” Maxine Hong Kingston. Chinese American, San Francisco native, Canyon Sam spent a year in Tibet and Dharamsala when Tibet first opened in the mid 1980s.  Consequently she became a Tibet activist in the U.S., helping found the Tibetan Nuns Project, doing grassroots organizing and speaking before Congress for their Tiananmen Square hearings to link human rights in Tibet to that event.  Sky Train, begun as an oral history project, was over nineteen years in the making. www.canyonsam.com


TSERING WANGMO DHOMPA is the first Tibetan woman poet to be published in the US. Her first book of poems Rules of the House was a finalist for the Asian American Literary Awards in 2003. Other publications include In the Absent Everyday (Apogee Press 2005), two chapbooks, In Writing the Names (Abacus, Potes & Poets Press) and Recurring Gestures (Tangram Press). Tsering received her MA from University of Massachusetts and her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She was raised in India and Nepal. Her work is deceptively simple; her prose poems and vignettes gesture lyrically to a rich present and a memorable past. Tsering has a book of poems forthcoming from Apogee Press, My Rice Tastes Like The Lake and has completed a non-fiction book on Tibet, Imagined Country, currently being reviewed by publishers. She is a resident of San Francisco and a happy neighbor of Haight & Ashbury. She will read from Imagined Country.

Moderated by: TOPTEN TSERING – writer, activist and youth leader.

For more information on TANC and OACC, please visit:

www.tanc.org and www.oacc.cc respectively.

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