Teardrops of Time

Buddhist Aesthetics in the Poetry of Angkarn Kallayanapong

By Arnika Fuhrmann

Subjects: Buddhism, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Postcolonial Studies, Asian Studies
Paperback : 9781438480749, 278 pages, July 2021
Hardcover : 9781438480732, 278 pages, December 2020

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Table of contents


1. Introduction: Buddhist Aesthetic Modernity

2. Ontology: Time as Conflict: Angkarn Kallayanapong's Buddhist Temporal Modernity

3. History: The Dream of a Contemporary Ayuthaya: Angkarn Kallayanapong's Poetics of Dissent, Aesthetic Nationalism, and Thai Literary Modernity

4. Subjectivity: Modern Manifesto: Poetry as Redemptive-Therapeutic Action in the World

5. Language: Transnational Poetic Modernity: Linguistic Innovation and Religious Borrowings in the Work of Paul Celan and Angkarn Kallayanapong

6. Politics: One Night in Bangkok: Angkarn Kallayanapong and Allen Ginsberg

7. Conclusion: Performing a Redemptive Present

Appendix: Translations of Angkarn Kallayanapong's Work on Time


Investigates how the Thai poet Angkarn Kallayanapong adapts Buddhist concepts of time to create a modern Asian aesthetic imaginary.


Focusing on one of the most significant poets of the twentieth century, Angkarn Kallayanapong (1926–2012), this book makes a unique contribution to understandings of non-Western literary modernity. Arnika Fuhrmann investigates how the Thai poet adapts Buddhist understandings of time to create a modern Asian aesthetic imaginary. While Angkarn's poetry conjures the image of an early modern Thai cosmopolitanism, it also pioneers a poetics reflective of present-day globalization. The result is an experiment in Buddhist cosmopolitan aesthetic modernity. Teardrops of Time contextualizes the poet's work in the literary history and cultural politics of his time, tracing the transformation of a modern Thai cultural and political imaginary through the political history of the country's authoritarian governance since the late 1950s and the exigencies of an increasingly globalized economy since the 1980s. As Angkarn's work aligns itself with contemporaneous global trends in poetry, the book reads it alongside the work of Paul Celan and Allen Ginsberg.

Arnika Fuhrmann is Associate Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at Cornell University and the author of Ghostly Desires: Queer Sexuality and Vernacular Buddhism in Contemporary Thai Cinema.


"All in all, Teardrops of Time is an innovative read, as Fuhrmann dexterously reframes the analysis of Angkarn's poetry in a largely postcolonial perspective. Together with her interviews, especially with Angkarn's daughter Ormkaew Kallayanapong, one sees how the poet's oeuvre can be understood not only from a traditional viewpoint of Buddhism, but also from the political representation of imaginaries unique to this famed poet." — South East Asia Research

"Teardrops of Time is a welcome addition to the literature on modern Thai culture and cultural history." — CHOICE

"Arnika Fuhrmann's ambitious project to investigate all possible aspects of Angkarn's oeuvre, ranging from Buddhist temporal ontologies to transnational trends in modern poetics, is laudable, as it paves a new path for Thai literary studies beyond national boundaries and nationalist ideology. By contextualizing Angkarn's works within the local literary culture under the military regimes in Thailand as well as within global literary movements and global cultural production, Fuhrmann is able to offer a better understanding of Angkarn's innovative poetics and identify the literary and political impacts of his works." — Chusak Pattarakulvanit, Thammasat University