Sweet Butter Tea is a collection of poems that spontaneously sprang from the most personal memories and childhood recollections of exiled Tibetan Ten Phun. Since his escape into India, Ten Phun has experienced a bewildering sense of loss, harrowing loneliness, as well as lively times in a borrowed space. This volume is peppered with eclectic images of confusion, nostalgia, and the poet’s deep longing to be back in his home of Tibet. “I don’t know how old my heart is, I only know my five-o’clock shadow tells it all,” Ten Phun writes. This book of poetry promises a dizzying journey into a young adult refugee’s struggles, dreams, and musings, all packed into bite-sized verses that grasp at truth and attempt to put into words the anguish of physical, emotional, and psychological dislocation.
Poet/rapper/actor Ten Phun was born in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. After losing both his parents, his aunt enrolled him in Lhasa's Sera Monastery, where as a novice monk he secretly read children's storybooks translated into Tibetan, including Snow White and The Adventures of Pinocchio. In 1999, he fled to India, where he studied in a Tibetan refugee school. He studied briefly at Delhi University before dropping out to live an artistic life in the hills of Dharamsala. Ten Phun sings, writes, and acts in plays as a member of the only Tibetan theater group in exile.