In the early eighties of the last century a small motley group of writers from the hilly, riverine and rain-washed northeast states of India began dabbling in creative writing in English. These handful of writers had their grooming in the English language assisted through their academic education in English medium schools.
Writings in English was more pronounced in Shillong in the State of Meghalaya through the works of Robin S. Ngangom, Desmond Kharmawphlang, Ananya S. Guha and Kynpham S. Nongkynrih. In the plains, especially in Assam, this force had gathered momentum by the early nineties through the focussed efforts of Meenaxi Barkataky, Indrani Rai Medhi, Srutimala Duara, Mitra Phukan and Dhruba Hazarika. They were regular contributors to The Assam Tribune and The Sentinel, whose editor, Mr D.N. Bezboruah, had already earned a measure of fame for his journalistic integrity in upholding democratic values in the face of dire threats and for his exceptionally brilliant editorials. To the writers writing in English in Assam, he provided a platform that had hitherto not existed.
Literary bodies in regional Indian languages already had a firm grip in almost every State. However, barring the now defunct Shillong Poetry Society, there was none to underscore those who wrote in English in the north eastern states. The story of The North East Writers’ Forum began in September 1996. The writers who had already formed an informal circle by contributing to The Sentinel met to form what initially was meant to be an informal book club where members would offer critiques about one another’s works.
In January 1997, prompted by the shared camaraderie during their student years in Shillong, poets and short story writers from several north-eastern states converged at the Circuit House in Guwahati and formed The North East Writers’ Forum. Registered officially the same year with the Society of Registers, Government of Assam, the Forum, which, initially, was meant to be a book reading club expanded fast into a vibrant body comprising members from Tripura, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Sikkim, Arunachal and Assam. As enunciated in its constitution, the twin primary objectives of the Forum are to promote creative writings in, and the translations of regional literary works to, and vice versa, in English.
The first president was Mr. DN Bezboruah and the first secretary, Mr. Dhruba Hazarika. For more than a decade they continued in their respective roles, a period that saw the Forum laying its foundation through its literary activities. This effort was substantially carried forward in subsequent years under the presidential tenures of Mr. Arup Kumar Dutta and Ms. Mitra Phukan. Apart from the annual general meeting held every year on a rotational basis among the eight states of north-east India, The North East Writers’ Forum has held numerous literary meets in all the states, including an international literary conference in 2010 in Guwahati. It has hosted numerous book launches, collaborated with publication houses in bringing out collective published works from the north-eastern states of India and in felicitating both invited and visiting authors from across the county and abroad. But above all these, each State chapter of The North East Writers’ Forum retains its original commitment by meeting at least once every month for reading sessions and in exchanging notes on refining one’s literary ventures.
Each state is headed by a designated representative who is also a member of the executive committee. A distinct nomenclatural logo is associated with each state. Thus, Tripura is symbolized by the legend Interface while Mizoram’s is Hill Talk, Nagaland’s is termed as Wordsmithereens, Meghalaya’s as Ensemble, Manipur’s as Confluence, Sikkim’s as Converse; for Arunachal the catch-word is Matrix; and, for Assam, Expressions. Coined by Mr DN Bezboruah, the Forum’s journal, NEWFrontiers, is sought to be published every year. Mitra Phukan, Srutimala Duara, Robin Ngangom and Rupanjali Baruah, at various stages, have been its editors.
Membership is open to those who are interested in reading and writing, recommended by at least one permanent member, and approved in the annual general meetings.
The North East is a vastly colourful region, home to more than 145 tribes, each distinct from the other. Languages and dialects, cuisine and dresses and religious practices flourish here in much the same way innumerable species of fish teem its numerous rivers. It has had a chequered history, from foreign invasions over the centuries to occasional internecine ethnic confrontations. Flanked on three sides by Bhutan, Nepal, China, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, northeast India has also seen insurgencies over several decades. This is a region awash with pristine natural beauty, snow-clad mountains, lush green plains and hills, majestic rivers, its forests and trees and its exquisite fauna all breathing life into a system that is as varied as perhaps no other region in the world. Into this arena The North East Writers’ Forum seeks to encourage creativity, among the region’s dwellers, through the written word, through the English language in a form unique to this incredibly fertile place under the sun.
May your readings take you to the write path.
The present executive body comprises the following:
|Advisors||Arup Dutta (Assam)|
|Monalisa Changkija (Nagaland)|
|President||Dhruba Hazarika (Assam)|
|Vice-Presidents||Robin S. Ngangom (Meghalaya)|
|T Bijoykumar Singh (Manipur)|
|Secretary||Swapnil Bharali (Assam)|
|Jt. Secretary||Tinat Atifa Masood (Assam)|
|Treasurer||Srutimala Duara (Assam)|
|Executive Members||Mamang Dai (Arunachal Pradesh)|
|Ashes Gupta (Tripura)|
|Emisenla Jamir (Nagaland)|
|Lalnunsanga Ralte (Mizoram)|
|Amanda Basaiawmoit (Meghalaya)|
|Jodha Chandra Sanasam (Manipur)|
|Raman Shrestha (Sikkim)|
|Deepanjol Deka (Assam)|
|Editor (NEWFrontiers)||Robin S. Ngangom (Meghalaya)|