No boundaries here

Janice Pariat, the author of Boats on Land, Seahorse and The Nine Chambered Heart was recently at The People’s Studio at ARTEM to conduct a workshop on ‘How to read as a writer’.
The workshop was organised to present to the participants a deeper look at the process of reading. Dissecting assigned readings for the workshop, the participants were taken from decoding choices made by the writer who becomes the narrator — from whose perspective the story is written — to literary motifs and language.
The workshop was followed by a reading session by Pariat of selected stories from Boats on Land and her most recent work, The Nine Chambered Heart.
Speaking to Roshni Chetri, the digital editor at ARTEM, Pariat was critical about the practice of labelling writers from the region as a “northeastern” writers since “there are no northeastern writers, just as there are no North Indian writers”, she asserted.
The last programme for the evening was a conversation with the author during which the structure of her novels to the presence of same-sex relationships in each of her books was explored.
Reflecting on the two readings assigned for the workshop and talking about good writing, the winner of the Sahitya Akademi Young Writer Award said, “Good writing takes the familiar and makes you see it in a new way. It’s about taking every-day mundane life and making you see it anew.”
Adding further nuances to the familiar notion that to be a good writer, one must be a reader first, Pariat informed the indispensability of “reading as a writer”. The two-hour workshop aimed at enhancing both the reading and writing skills of the participants.
“To read as a writer is to ask why. Why this and not that? This way and not the other? This piece of information here and not there? We need to ask why because writing is intention. Figuring out this intention, sometimes in the quiet privacy of our rooms, teaches us more about writing than any classroom can,” she said.
The evening ended with a question-answer round with the audience.
The People’s Studio is a multi-functional space for hosting art and photography exhibitions, writing workshops, poetry readings, film screenings and other artistic events in Gangtok. ARTEM is a magazine that celebrates the works of artists from the eight states of northeast India, and any work-of-art inspired by the region. At a time when there is a boom of creativity in the 8 states, we choose to tell our own stories.

Poets come together

A ‘Poet reads Poet’ programme was organised at ‘NEthing’ in Guwahati recently where Namrata Pathak read out from Shalim M Hussain’s latest poetry collection ‘Betel Nut City’.
Shalim, a multi-talented personality, has been working on the literature and culture of the char-chaporis (river islands of Assam) for a long time. In 2010 he co-directed a short documentary film on ‘Lathibari’ and has been instrumental in founding a protest movement that has been given the name ‘Miyah Poetry’. He is one of the founders of Itamugur, an art collective that is focussed on promoting the literature and art from the char-chaporis of Assam.
Namrata herself writes poetry and teaches English at the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Shalim M Hussain writes poetry and prose with equal sway.
he was selected for the ‘India Foundation for the Arts’ grant 2017-18. The grant was sanctioned for four short films on ‘Nau Khela’, ‘Lathibari’, and ‘KobiBayat’, three performative arts from the char-chaporis of Assam and ‘Gasshi Rati’, a semi-religious ritualistic performance.
Hussain hails from Sontoli village of Kamrup and , he was selected for the ‘India Foundation for the Arts’ grant 2017-18. The grant was sanctioned for four short films on ‘Nau Khela’, ‘Lathibari’, and ‘KobiBayat’, three performative arts from the char-chaporis of Assam and ‘Gasshi Rati’, a semi-religious ritualistic performance.
On being asked what inspires him to write and whether he prefers prose over poetry, Shalim stated, “I think that the desire to tell stories inspires me to write. I use both prose and verse but the impulse has always been to tell stories. However, I choose the medium based on the story I want to tell. If it’s deeply personal or anecdotal, I prefer poetry.”
According to him, if the story is based on characters, he would prefer the short story. However, this is highly tentative and occasionally he would start writing a story in verse and if he thought that it’s better suited for prose, he would make a detour.
After the poetry reading session, Hussain replied to Pathak’s queries.

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