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Updated: Nov 18, 2020



Explore the NRC through a poetry movement by the ‘char-chapori’ muslim community in Assam. The movement that spread widely through social media reclaims the word ‘Miyah’, otherwise used as a slur to refer to their identity.


Basic background to Miyah poetry


‘There’s a wealth of oral literature which we, unfortunately, have no trace of. But, as far as the printed form goes it is 1939 — that was the first wave. In the 1980s, the second wave came up with poetry mostly written in Assamese by a large number of writers like Khabir Ahmed and Dr Hafiz Ahmed. While the form was called 'Char Chapori poetry/literature', the writers also called themselves ‘Char Chapori poets’. Some of that was protest literature, some wasn’t. What we [Miyah poets] are, is essentially the third wave of writers, with just a change in nomenclature.’ Read more here for an informed introduction to miyah poetry.


On July 10, 2019, an FIR was filed against ten people for ‘indulging in criminal activities’. The complainant claimed the intent behind the activities to be to hinder the updation of the NRC in Assam. Basis? A poem by a school teacher and activist. Read more about it here.

Listen to and read Miyah poems—spoken Miyah poetry can be found on Youtube and to a lesser degree on Soundcloud.


Exercise


Divide the class into small groups[1]. Assign each group a poem from the miyah movement (Please find attached a selection of poems below) and invite the students to:


poetry-readingnew
.pdf
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  • Write reviews of /responses to the poem

  • Delve into the social, political, cultural contexts through the language, images, references used in the poem.

  • Write a thought piece on ‘What can make a poem criminal?’


[1] The two links under ‘Basic background to Miyah poetry’ could be shared with students to assist their research.

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For the past twenty seven years The Seagull Foundation for the Arts has been actively supporting, nurturing and disseminating creative and critical activity in the field of the arts in India, especially fine arts, theatre and cinema, out of a deep conviction and commitment to the belief that the arts are everybody’s responsibility and a social commitment.

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