desire within Tibetan women come to be entangled as they come into the world (family expectations and male hunger) all while maintaining space for the contradictions innate to the experience of womanhood. Indeed, Gen Palmo asserts that she is many things at once: she is immaculate, pearl, contract, commodity, country and wisdom. What struck our group the most was the ways in which she played with metaphors and images with great skill. In Approach Me Not Gen Palmo rejects classical images of Tibetan women (often likened to pearls and nectar in songs and poems) in favour of gruesome ones (charcoal and poison streams). In doing so, she effectively dismantles the image of the resplendent, static woman whose body is property, instead imbuing the figure of the woman with complexity, with dangerous potentiality.
Overall, this Khabda helped us challenge both our understandings of Tibetan womanhood and Tibetan literature. One participant, a male McGill PhD student remarked on how his understanding of Tibetan poetry had shifted entirely, having now reconsidered the role of gender within dominant modes of learning and writing. More broadly, we discussed how women shaped Tibetan landscapes in the context of communities both inside and outside Tibet. In line with this, we discussed my personal favourite stanza of Gen Palmo’s poem I am who I am: “I am who I am / I am a queen / A mother, whose golden vessel of a womb gave birth to the children of a nation / Averting the fall of Tibet’s ancient traditions in calamitous times / I hoist and raise the pillar of earnestness / When my life is vested with power and equality / I am country.” Tibetan women, in a sense, are carriers of place. Carrying lakes, mountains, stones, Tibetan women form a vast country in a time of seeming placelessness. However, this worlding remains conditional on both power and equality as Gen Palmo reminds us. Redefining srinmo, as such, must entail a collective project of examining and dismantling gender roles, a realization that the spirit of srinmo is wild, powerful and endlessly creative.