Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds

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Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds

‘Supporting freedom of expression in ethnic Myanmar literature’

8 Cities

 9 Workshops

 24 Short Stories

 1 Anthology

 The British Council, in collaboration with Millennium Centres and regional literature and cultural associations is embarking on a 3 year project showcasing ethnic Myanmar literature

Core Aims

  •  development and showcasing of ethnic writers and their communities;
  • enabling freedom of expression through creative methods;
  • supporting cross-ethnic literary collaboration;
  • maintaining a wider, global perspective and appreciation of Myanmar literature through traditional print and digital engagement.
  • actively engaging ethnic communities to play a productive role in a stable and peaceful society
  • allowing a greater voice in the political and social change process in Burma 

In the first year phase of this project, up to 20 Yangon based writers will be trained on the methodologies and approaches to deliver 7 to 10 day short story narrative creative writing workshops by a UK author familiar with Myanmar and then cascade those skills to an ethnic writer/literary representative based in the ethnic communities in Karen State, Mon State, Northern Shan and Kachin State.  60 community members will be selected to participate in these 4 regional workshops, producing a short story on the subject of their choice in their regional language. 

A Live Literature night open for free to the public will be held to mark the completion of the workshop.  Workshop co-instructors, participants and local literary community members will conduct a Burmese ‘BookSlam’ style performance of open readings paired with local musicians in a celebration of ethnic arts.  Workshop participants will also receive a certificate of completion to be awarded at this performance.  A 3 member panel of ethnic writers in collaboration with regional culture and literature associations will select the three best short stories from each of the 4 regional workshops based on literary merit, collecting 12 stories in total.

In the second year phase of this project, the 12 ethnic short stories, plus one each from the workshop instructors, will be translated from their regional language into Burmese and published in Myanmar as bi-lingual anthology.  The anthology will then be included in regional secondary school syllabus as part of the up-coming government education programme to promote regional languages with over a 1000 copies donated by the British Council.  A second round of workshops will be delivered in Kayah State, Chin State and Rakhine State

The third year phase will hope to see the top short story from each ethnic workshop, plus a piece of work each from the workshop instructors and the 3 member panel translated into English through external UK based partners with a release as the first translated anthology of ethnic short stories in the UK and a subsequent UK Literary Roadshow to five cities with roots in minority language literature and translation to promote the anthology and showcase their literary community.

Sadaik will update on this project after each workshop with images, videos, interviews and media mentions.

For more information or if you feel you can contribute to the project please contact Daw Kyi Kyi Pyone,  Programme Manager, British Council, Burma.

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About Lucas Stewart

Former British Council Literature Advisor | Author of The People Elsewhere: Unbound Journey's with the Storytellers of Myanmar