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Poetry links Assam, Estonia

Barman & Lattik translate each other's works

The cover of Pisarateoja Ketetong

Guwahati: Assam and Estonia are engaging in cultural exchange through two poets translating each other's works and delving into the socio-cultural aspects of both places.

Margus Lattik aka Mathura, Estonian poet, publisher and translator, introduced Assamese literature to his fellow countrymen in 2016 by translating 32 poems penned by Sahitya Akademi awardee Bijoy Shankar Barman. The translation was published in a book titled Pisarateoja Ketetong (The Streaming Tears of Ketetong).

Now Barman has embarked on a similar path by translating around 40 of Lattik's poems into Assamese. He is working on a volume of Lattik's works that have already been translated into English. This is the first time that Estonian literature will be made available in a major language in the Northeast.

"I enjoyed the subtlety and mysticism of Bijoy's poems, the underlying feeling that life is eventually a mystery. It was also fascinating to see that while his poetry is rooted in local folklore, there's a recognisable dialogue with the works of peots like Rilke and schools like symbolism," said Lattik.

Pisarateoja Ketetong (Ketetong is a village in Margherita in Assam's Tinsukia district) was the result of arduous work by Lattik over one-and-a-half-years.

"This is indeed a matter of great honour that Assam and Estonia have embarked upon a journey through which they can explore each other's culture, heritage and literature. Lattik is likely to visit Assam later this year. We have plans to broaden the cultural and literary exchange further. This can be an exemplary effort to be followed by others to build a world of harmony and peace," said Barman.

The bond between the two places was enhanced with a 20-day photography exhibition based on Assam's sylvan beauty at Rapla County Centre for Contemporary Art in Estonia last year.

The exhibition displayed photographs taken by Imran Hussein, a Guwahati-based photographer. Hussein was invited by the director of the centre for the exhibition.

"Lattik's translation of Barman's poems became quite popular in Estonia. The art gallery director got hold of a copy and was astounded by the simplistic beauty of the book's cover photo which depicted a pond in Assam. He was curious about Assam and its beauty and culture. He contacted Lattik and Barman. Then I got in touch with Lattik and he invited me to do a photography exhibition on Assam," said Hussein.

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