Since the 1980s ethnic minority poets writing in the borderlands of Southwest China and Northeast India emerged on the world stage from within currents of dramatic environmental, political, economic, and demographic change, cresting in momentum by the 2010s. Within these borderlands of the Eastern Himalayas, burgeoning populations, propelled by sociopolitical agendas, ecological disasters, and other factors, stress borders and resources in areas increasingly open to exploitation by regional and international corporations and governments. Minority poetic voices throughout the region often respond to these radical environmental and cultural shifts with imagery of the environment delivered in very personal terms. Poets not only assume individual voices but also take on metonymic personae, speaking for concerns of their own groups via print, live performance, and digital formats. Mutual awareness of these cross-border poetries is slowly emerging, revealing that themes of poems from within these border areas are often parallel, with common concerns, though local characteristics. Cultural shifts and accommodation to new or revised modes of living and reactions to increasingly severe challenges to the local and regional environments surface repeatedly in the poetry. Some poems tread boundaries between the human and nonhuman inhabitants of these border areas, speaking for—or as—plants, animals, and geographic features.

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