Rewat Panpipat, the winner of the 2020 Silpathorn Awards, wrote the book “Birds on a Wire” during his one-year artist residency in Taiwan. On Oct 2nd, TECO in Thailand (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand) invited Rewat Panpipat to the Thailand's National Book Fair 2020 for a Birds on a Wire book launch event featuring cultural exchange. Present at the event were Literary Critic, Dr. Ora-Ong Chakorn and CEO of Radio Taiwan International, Mr. Chang Cheng, who both joined Panpipat in a vigorous talk session.
The special occasion was honorably joined by Dr. Lee Ying-yuan, Taiwan’s representative to Thailand and Dr. Shih Puo-suz, deputy representative of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand, respectively. Besides, the event saws honored guests, including Mrs. Chamaiporn Bangkombang, National Artists Award Winner in Literature and Advisor at Ministry of Culture, Ms. Kamolpaj Tosinthiti and Mr. Sukchai Wijaithammarit, Vice President of Foreign Affairs and Secretary General of Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand, respectively. The atmosphere of the event is very lively with a large number of participants listening and exchanging experience between Thailand and Taiwan. In addition, after the stage activities were over, there was a writer's autograph activity with readers and fans queuing up to receive signatures from the author, Rewat Panpipat.
For his poetry collection Reminiscence of the River, the Thai poet, Rewat Panpipat, won the 2004 S.E.A. Write Award (Southeast Asian Writers Award), the 2014 Silpathorn Award, which recognizes mid-career artists for their achievements, and the Mekong River Literature Award. In 2018, he was offered an artist residency at Taiwan's Treasure Hill Artist Village, which brought him to live and closely observe the Taiwanese life, the experience of which gave rise to his latest Thai language work, Birds on a Wire. The book centers around Thai migrant workers, touching on their seemingly destined fate and predicaments in life, highlighting complex issues shared across modern society.
In his speech, Representative Lee stated that the Taiwanese government has always emphasized literary writing and promotion as major interest fields. He said that the talk and reading sessions at this event were organized to resonate with Thailand's National Book Fair's mission of encouraging reading books. More importantly, it was also to look into Taiwanese literature and culture through writers' eyes and the talks between scholars and experts from across Taiwan and Thailand, hoping that such engagement would bring Thai readers and Taiwanese people closer together.
The event opened with a poetry/song singing performance led by a Thai poet, Angkarn Chanthathip, known as one of the top 5 poets by S.E.A. Write Award. During the talk session, Panpipat shared personal experiences from his artist residency in Taiwan with honor guests at the table, delivering the Taiwanese culture and customs to Thai readers. While in Taiwan, Panpipat provided on multiple occasions his assistance to the general director of Radio Taiwan International, Chang Cheng, who, despite being unable to attend the event given the COVID-19 pandemic personally, still managed to make an appearance virtually "online" in time for Mid-Autumn Festival. The ambience at the scene was lively and casual as readers enjoyed an accessible introduction and guided interpretation to the profound and complex rhetorics of the literary sensation Birds on a Wire.
Rewat Panpipat was born in northern Bangkok, 1966, to a farming household who grew rice and sugarcane. With a willfully straightforward temperament, he observed the world around him passionately; he spent years devoted to exploring the mentality of modern-day humanity. He has published over 20 body of works in his literary career, including fiction, short stories to poetry, and numerous accolades worldwide. His works have been popularly translated into English and other Southeast Asian languages.
His acquaintance with Taiwan came about in October of 2017 when Taiwan's Ministry of Culture invited him to the Asian Poetry Festival. By chance, he learned of art residency opportunities in Taiwan; soon afterwards, in 2018, he was accepted to the AIR (Artist-In-Residence) Program at Taipei's Treasure Hill Artist Village.
Taiwan boasts a mature artist residency environment offering diverse financial fundings that set forth this book's birth. In an interview with Thai media while in Taiwan, Panpipat said that "Taiwan is where the city of dreams live," because it has respect for art in addition to friendliness and hospitality, all of which made a lasting impression on him.
During his three-month residency, he spoke with many Thai migrant workers in Taiwan, and from their stories of life, the plots of his narrative came to the formation while including Panpipat's self-projection, from which we see Panpipat's concern for life, nature, and society. When literally translated, the book's original Thai title, Nok Opayop, means "migratory birds." In the book, "migratory bird" is a symbol for the migrating phenomenon among modern-day people – the "migratory bird" leaves its nest in Thailand and travels across to Taiwan to take a chance at getting out of poverty and creating a better life for their families.
The tale begins with the dream of young Thai migrant worker Songkarn as we follow him into a crime story involving an international phone scam gang across Taiwan and Thailand. The fiction touches on many hot topics, from political rivalries, social problems, economic struggles, to cultural conflicts. Panpipat has stated that he hopes that this book can transcend any linguistic or cultural barrier to help readers – regardless of race, gender, or nationality – understand life and find meaning in their lives.