Listening to Miyah Poets


Date: Saturday, August 14, 2021
Time: 19:30 – 20:30 Colombo | 18:00 – 19:00 Dubai | 15:00 – 16:00 London
Language: English and Miyah dialects

Miyah poetry emerged as an informal movement in 2016 led by Bengal-origin Muslim poets of Assam. It started with the poem ‘Write Down I am a Miya’ by Hafiz Ahmed, which went viral on social media channels in April 2016 and elicited a thread of over 10 poems in response from the community, laying the foundations of the Miyah poetry movement. Over the years, more poets joined, adding to the corpus of Miyah poetry. Initially all the poems tried to problematize and reclaim the word ‘Miyah’ which means ‘Gentleman’, but is often used as a pejorative against the community by majoritarian Assamese communities. Miyah poetry focuses on the history of displacement of the community during colonial rule, their lives in the chars and chaporis (river islands and riverbanks)—some of the most underdeveloped and inaccessible parts of the state. The informal collective now has over 30 members who continue to write in Assamese, English and the Miyah dialects and also circulate their poetry in translation.
‘Listening to Miyah Poets’ is joined by Shalim M Husain whose poetry and prolific translation work have been integral to the movement, as we listen to readings of ‘Our Ma’ by Rehna Sultana, ‘Nana I Have Written’ by Shalim M Husain, ‘Comrade’ by Kazi Neel and ‘Every Day on the Calendar is Nellie’ by Abdul Kalam Azad, followed by discussion with Anushka Rajendran.
The poetry readings are part of Episode 1 of A Thousand Channels, a radio project by Syma Tariq for Colomboscope: Language is Migrant.

This event is presented in the context of ‘Reading in Tongues’, a four-part virtual programme organised in partnership with Colomboscope as part of the festival’s seventh edition Language is Migrant. For more information, click here.

Shalim M Hussain
Shalim M Hussain (b.1987) is a writer and translator based in Assam, India. He was born in Kalgachia in the Barpeta district of Assam. He has degrees in literature from the University of Delhi and Jamia Millia Islamia. His books include the poetry collection Betel Nut City (2017), a translation of Kamal Kumar Tanti’s anthology Post Colonial Poems (2018) and a translation of the Assamese pulp classic Asimot Jar Heral Seema (2020).