Sunday, August 1, 2010

In sync with subaltern traditions

A close, felt observation of the world defines the poetry of Kamal Kumar Tanti, which probes into the culture of the Adivasi ex-tea garden labourers in Assam. He speaks to Ashley Tellis on what motivates him to write…

Kamal Kumar Tanti is a promising young voice in contemporary Assamese poetry. He belongs to the Adivasi Tea-Garden Labourer community in Assam. His first collection Marangburu Amar Pita (Our Father Marangburu), published in 2007, won him the prestigious Munin Barkotoki Literary Award for 2008. His poems have been included in various anthologies of Assamese poetry and featured in various journals. Tanti's collection of prose, Nimnaborgo Somaaj Oitijya (Subaltern Society's Legacy) comprised articles on post-colonial theory and subaltern historiography, with specific reference to colonial history and culture of Assam and was published in September 2007. He also writes fiction. His forthcoming collection is Uttar-Ouponibeshik Kabita (Postcolonial Poems)

Why do you write in Assamese? Do you speak the language at home?
Writing is an integral part of my activism, I believe and I feel I am more an activist rather than a poet or a writer. My poetry is a kind of diary of different experiences of mine. Writing is primarily a thought process for me. Language is the second most important concern for any writer or poet. If you consider the most practical situation and consider a young boy from Assam, mostly trained to speak Assamese, then inevitably that language becomes the immediate medium to express his voice. The community I officially belong to (Ex-Tea Garden Labourer community) has a colloquial language called Sadri. We speak both Sadri and Assamese at home. I write in Assamese with the objective to reach out to a larger audience. Even if the minority communities speak in the majority's language, they can be heard. My voice is for freedom, for people, against injustice, against colonialism and neo-colonialism.

Full interview here Hindu

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