Amidst the curfew and rumours of 86-87, Robin Ngangom, Ananya Guha, Desmond Kharmawphlang, three young college teachers from Shillong, who had each brought out a book of poems and even had their poems published in Calcutta Telegraph Sunday magazine and Debonair (oh what fun), decided to make public their obsession. It was to be a poetry reading at St. Edmund’s College. The reading, contrary to all expectations, turned out to be an overflowing affair. Shillong Poetry Circle (SPC) came out of that reading. This informal gathering of, mostly, poets met every Saturday(?) in Jalpaan, a Laitumkhrah dairy (or cafe you cosmopolitan fools) or college class rooms until it found M. C. Gabriel, a novelist(?) who headed North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) Publication Cell. NEHU had not yet constructed its huge decrepit campus, but operated from various rented houses in town and Publication Cell was in a Assam-type pile opposite St. Edmunds. That MC Gabriel ‘moment’ meant that SPC had access to some publishing knowhow and this desktop calendar was a result of that encounter.
The art for the calendar came out of a workshop which (L) Mainul Haq Barbhuiya had organised with Jogen Chowdhury of Shanti Niketan.
Mainul worked at that time with the Statistics department of NEHU, drawing graphs and plotting a contemporary art movement in Shillong. Obviously as any disaffected ‘artsy’ soul, Mainul was a regular at the Saturday sessions of SPC. Many years on, almost all the poets are names worth something. As for the artists, you see the early work of Benedict Hynniewta (he was fourteen then) and Raphael Warjri. Kishalay Bhattachrjee, who incidentally sent us this ephemera and whose sketch you see in July, wrote poetry in those days but these days survives on journalism. Don’t ask us about M. C. Gabriel.