Kawa Niangji 卡瓦娘吉 is the pen name for Niangjiben ལགས་ཀྱི་ཟིན་བྲིས།, a Tibetan poet and environmental activist from Qinghai province, China. He published a book of fairy tales in Tibetan language, titled Flying Moths, in 2014, and published in his blog poems and prose in Chinese. He was drowned in Qinghai Lake on June 26, 2015, at age 26, when he was trying to dismantle an illegal fishing net. There were reports about his death in the news media saying that the Huang fish was the key element to keep the ecological balance in the Qinghai Tibetan region and the poet was involved in the local organization to save this dying species. There is a Tibetan saying: the Qinghai Lake is our left eye, the Huang our right eye.
For many years it’s been difficult to find poetry written by ethnic minority writers in China due to the dominance of Han Chinese literature and the policy of language unity. Kawa Niangji surfaced in the overseas literary community after his death. While his fairy tales in Tibetan are not available yet, some of his poems have been posted online by his friend, another Tibetan writer, Woeser. From his poems, even though written in Chinese, we see traces of Tibetan folk songs and ballads of love, separation and helplessness. But as a contemporary poet with historical consciousness about his tribe and a strong responsibility of eco-protection, his writing displays a rare sense of humor.
His poems and prose in Chinese can be found here: