The two day writers meet held in Shillong on the 28th and 29th September 2012 was significant for various reasons. It was without the typicality and formalism of conferences and seminars. This atypical feature enabled both young and emerging writers to sit alongside with the more established ones to share their work, published or otherwise.
A redeeming feature was the presence of Ms Deepika Phukan, well over seventy years old, who read her short story, and who taught in one of Shillong's premier colleges for thirty five years. Such is the verve and creative genius of this lady. In addition she translates Assamese Literature into English. She regaled the audience with her short story set in England, where she meets a Khasi lady married to a British, who was her student way back in Shillong. It was a light hearted humorous story, with an underlying pathos.
The celebrated writer Anjum Hasan read excerpts from her latest short stories: 'Difficult Pleasures'. So did the young, highly talented novelist Chetan Kulsheshtra from Sikkim. His three novellas are soon to be published by Aleph Publishers, New Delhi. He read out an excerpt from it depicting a socio-economic-love tangle of a lower middle class family in Sikkim, which leads to a grisly murder. Anjum Hasan spoke of the composite nature of writing fiction, where she says has poetic elements. She also read out a poem.
Anjum who originally is from Shillong, is now based in Bangalore, she also writes poetry.
As the meet went on with reading sessions, followed by questions and answers the motif of violence and militancy figured in the short stories of Ms Mitra Phukan and Dhruba Hazarika, who are well known fiction writers from Assam, writing in English. They interrogated the cult of violence through their fiction. So did Uddipana Goswami in her poems, centred around violence and bomb blasts in the city of Guwahati, which has become a ritual, and which is now treated with a wretched insouciance. We have got used to it, and one or two lives, really do not matter.
Robin S Ngangom the luminary poet of North East India, who writes in English stunned the small audience with his trenchant satire. Robin has made an everlasting impression on the younger generation of poets in North East India,with his deep impression of a native love for a land, torn asunder by violence and riotous corruption, among politicians. Robin's sentimentalism, his infusion of love and politics makes incursions into a poetry embedded by sheer lyricism. The same is the case with a poet like Desmond Leslie Kharmawphlang. Desmond is an internationally known folklorist, and this culture of myth and folklore enters his poetry as sentient and abiding motifs. A sheer lyricism marks his poetry.
The younger poets like Lalsanga, Cherrie from Mizoram, and Nabanita Kanungo and Amanda from Shillong were fresh voices with wide ranging themes from the highly personalized to the general and universal. These voices will soon be forces to reckon with.Robert G Lyngdoh a musician and former Home Minister of Meghalaya, read out his song like poetry, beautifully cadenced. Literature in the North East is a powerful sense of arrival, and, which is one of the main focal points of Indian Literature.