London/Guwahati: Charles Wallace India Fellowship in Creative Writing and Translation of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David has been awarded to Shalim M Hussain, a writer-translator from Assam. The manuscript of his first book of poems “Betelnut City” published in 2017 won the RL Poetry award.
He has already translated more than 50 Miyah poems by 30 poets to English. During the course of his three-month fellowship in March 2020, Hussain will translate 50 more poems and will continue writing his own poetry. He has also published “Post-Colonial Poems”, a translation of Assamese poet Kamal Kumar Tanti’s Yuva Sahitya Akademi Award winning book “Uttar-Ouparibeshik Kobita.”
For the Charles Wallace fellowship, Hussain will work on his second volume of Miyah poems in English translation which is “The Land is Mine- An Anthology of Miyah Poems in Translation”. He had been engaged in writing and translating poems by Bengal-origin Muslims of Assam since 2016.
The word “miyah” is an Urdu word meaning gentleman but has been bastardised into a slur and used to refer to the Bengal-origin Muslims settled in the riverside of Brahmaputra in Assam. Miyah poetry caused a controversy after an FIR was filed against 10 poets, booked after video of a “Miyah” poem about alleged discrimination towards Bengali-speaking Muslims in Assam went viral with activists condemning the state’s attempt to “criminalise” poetry very recently.