Sunday, March 28, 2010

Talking of Assam…

Poet and author Aruni Kashyap on why he dislikes being called “writer from the North East” and how his home state Assam influences his writing. Aruni Kashyap, apart from being a poet and author, is also assistant editor of the academic research journal Yaatrâ: the Journal of Assamese Literature and Culture. His poems, fiction and non-fiction have been published across a variety of magazines and journals. He was awarded the Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarship (2009) for creative writing. In Chennai for the third edition of “Poetry with Prakriti”, he spoke about his work and his feelings about the “North-East” tag. Excerpts:

Would it be right to call you an angry young man of poetry … of Assamese poetry … or North-East poetry?
No. Actually I was speaking about this a while back. Why do you want to call me (laughs) the angry young man ... of North-East poetry?

Your themes. May be because of blurring of lines … of calling everything that side as North-Eastern poetry.
A year back, an editor requested me to write a “proper North Eastern story”. I really didn't know what it is meant to be because the North-East is a vast landscape. Assam itself has 65 tribes each with its own language, oral literature, myths of origin… so there cannot be one story there to define the North-East. But I was given the brief that such a story would probably have a lot of violence. I was disturbed because I thought it was actually perpetuating the idea of a North-East that is extremely violent.

It is true that a lot of my writing is a result of very strong rage because when I came to Delhi to study literature in 2004, I didn't know that something called “a North Eastern” existed. It challenged received identities. I grew up as an Assamese. And I grew up as an Indian.

In many ways I do identify myself as a North Eastern now. But that concept did not exist when I was growing up. What I want to project in my writing is that people are also living there … life goes on. It would not be right merely to call me only the angry young man of the North-East.

Full interview here Hindu

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