Hidden Words - Hidden Worlds Anthology

Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds - or H2 - is a unique, nation-wide project that uses literature as a platform to support freedom of expression, creativity and social change in Burma’s ethnic nationality states.

Over the past three years, in collaboration with the British Council sponsored Millennium Centres and ethnic culture and literature associations, local community members in the ethnic states have participated in short story construction workshops co-led by Burmese and local writers.  Stories in the ethnic languages generated from these workshops were selected by the respective ethnic culture and literature associations and translated into Burmese.  After a year of editing and proofreading an anthology of these new voices from the ethnic states was published in September 2015.

Titled Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds the anthology features 28 original short stories, 21 in Burmese translation, in 11 different languages and 10 distinct scripts.  In what may be the biggest book launch held in Burma, over 300 people attended the celebration of the publication.

2,000 copies of the anthology have been printed, with copies being distributed for free to the ethnic states through our ethnic literature group partners and academic and community libraries in all seven states and regions to ensure everybody across the nation gets an opportunity to read this unique collection.

Working with local literary translators, 14 of the stories have now been translated into English with a possible UK publication of the first anthology of translated ethnic nationality stories from Myanmar in the near future.

Article on Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds anthology can be read here.

Writer in Residency

Following on the success of the Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds project, the British Council continued its support to literature with the first overseas writer-in-residence in partnership with Edge Hill University, A leading institution for creative writing in the UK which, run from 19th November to 6th December 2016.

Maung Day, a poet, editor, visual and performing artist was the inaugural writer in resident and he spent two weeks in the UK joining creative writing graduates at Edge Hill University, reading at SOAS London and reading a new composed ekphrastic poem  which was inspired by the artworks of Tracy Emin and William Blake at Tate Liverpool. 

Our interview with Maung Day on his experience in the UK as the writer in residency can be read here.

Lucas Stewart talks about Myanmar's place in South East Asia's burgeoning literary scene, and shares details of two exciting events with Maung Day, open to UK audiences in London and Liverpool. Find out more in this blog.

Creative Writing: Doorways and Labyrinths

Upon his return from the UK, Maung Day led a three day Creative Writing Workshop in Yangon PEN Myanmar Office from 3rd to 5th March 2017. 

Titled Doorways and Labyrinths, the workshop which was held in collaboration with PEN Myanmar, aimed to contribute to creative writing skills by exploring different writing techniques, mannerisms, sources of inspiration and subjects, using participatory approaches.

13 participants from PEN Myanmar, who hailed from across the country and from several different ethnic nationality groups, explored the works of local writers such as Cho Pain Naung, The Htu, and Myint Than, and international writers such as Salman Rushdie, Lydia Davis, Raymond Carver and J.M. Coetzee.

Through group discussions, mini lectures and individual exercises, Maung Day, joined by guest appearances from writers Sabai Phyu Nu and Denovo, guided the participants in the creation of their own stories. 

The Masterclass finished with a BookSlam event, at Gallery 65 which was attended by acclaimed poets and performing artists.

Maung Day talked about poetry in Burma today to the British Council Voices magazine which can be read here

See also

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