The third exiled writer in the City of Asylum residency program was Khet Mar of Burma. She came to Pittsburgh in March of 2009, and she immediately planted a flower garden. When the flowers bloomed, her creativity also re-surged.
After coming to Pittsburgh, Khet Mar had a dream, in which her home in rural Burma and her new home in Pittsburgh began to merge. She wrote a story in which she floated in some blended nowhere, shapeless, unable to shake off a deep anxiety rooted in suffering. Then she awoke to singing birds. Her husband, visual artist Than Htay Maung, interpreted her dream-story in a mural covering the front and side of 324 Sampsonia Way. On the front façade is a sparkling vision of an almost ethereal Pittsburgh; on the side is a terrifying image of Burmese peasants working behind a landscape trapped inside prison walls, with birds of prey overhead. At the corner of the house, the Irrawaddy River of Burma meets the Allegheny River of Pittsburgh.
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"I was sentenced to 99 lashes just for shaking hands with the opposite sex. ... In another inst [...]