Hidden Words - Hidden Worlds

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 is evolving its commitment to literature with the first overseas writer-in-residence for Myanmar.  

In partnership with Edge Hill University, a leading institution for creative writing in the UK, the residency will run from 19th November to 6th December 2016. 

For the inaugural residency poet Maung Day will spend two weeks in the UK joining creative writing graduates, performing at Live Literature events across the country, appearing on radio and working on a new piece of literature.   

Maung Day is a poet, editor, visual and performing artist.  He has published seven books of poetry in Burmese, Pleasure Sea (Kyaw Mhway 2006), Surplus Biology (The Eras 2011), Alluvial Plain of Ogres (The Eras 2012) and Poems (The Eras 2014), Films Poems (The Eras 2015), The Green Book (The Eras 2016) and Gasoline (The Eras 2016). His poems have appeared in international magazines such as The Wolf, Guernica, The Awl and International Poetry Review. He co-founded the celebrated Beyond Pressure International Performance Art Festival in Myanmar in 2008 and his artworks have been showcased home and abroad.

On his return to Burma, Maung Day will lead a three day Writers Masterclass to cascade his experiences and knowledge from the residency.

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.