Temsüla Ao

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Temsüla Ao
Temsüla Ao during New Delhi World Book Fair in 2010
Temsüla Ao during New Delhi World Book Fair in 2010
Born1945 (age 75–76)
Jorhat, Bengal Presidency, British India (Present-day Jorhat, Assam, India)
  • Poet
  • ethnographer
Notable worksLaburnum For My Head, These Hills Called Home: Stories From A War Zone
Notable awardsPadma Shri (2007)
Sahitya Akademi Award (2013)[1]

Temsüla Ao (born October 1945) is an Indian poet, short story writer and ethnographer. She is a retired Professor of English at North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), where she taught since 1975.[2] She served as the Director of North East Zone Cultural Centre, Dimapur between 1992 and 1997 on deputation from NEHU.[2]

In 2013, she received the Sahitya Akademi Award for her short story collection, Laburnum for My Head.[3]


Temsüla Ao was born in October 1945 at Jorhat, Assam[2] and matriculated from at Ridgeway Girls' High School, Golaghat. She received her B.A with Distinction from Fazl Ali College, Mokokchung, Nagaland, and M.A in English from Gauhati University, Assam. From English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, she received her Post Graduate Diploma in the Teaching of English and PhD from NEHU. From 1992 to 1997 she served as Director, North East Zone Cultural Centre, Dimapur on Deputation from NEHU, and was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Minnesota 1985–86.[4][5][better source needed]

She received the honorary Padma Shri Award in 2007. She is the recipient of the Governor's Gold Medal 2009 from the government of Meghalaya. She is widely respected as one of the major literary voices in English to emerge from Northeast India along with Mitra Phukan and Mamang Dai.

Her works have been translated into German, French, Assamese, Bengali and Hindi.[6]



She has published five poetic works.

  • Songs that Tell (1988),
  • Songs that Try to Say (1992),
  • Songs of Many Moods (1995),
  • Songs from Here and There (2003),
  • Songs From The Other Life (2007).[1]

Her first two poetry collections were published from Writers Workshop, Kolkata. The third poetry collection was published by Kohima Sahitya Sabha and the fourth was published by North Eastern Hill University and the last one was by Grasswork Books, Pune.


When she was in the University of Minnesota as a Fulbright fellow, she came in contact with the Native Americans. She learned about their culture, heritage and especially their oral tradition. This exposure inspired her to record the oral tradition of her own community, Ao Naga. After returning from the University of Minnesota, she worked on the oral tradition for about twelve years. She collected the myths, folktales, folklore, rituals, law, custom, belief system. This ethnographic work was published in 1999 as the Ao-Naga oral tradition from Bhasha Publications, Baroda. This book is the most authentic document about the Ao-Naga community.

Short story[edit]

Temsüla Ao has published two short story collections. These Hills Called Home: Stories from the War Zone, Zubaan and Laburnum for my Head, Penguin India (2009).[1] The former short story collection consists of ten short stories and deals with insurgency in Nagaland fired by right to self-determination of the Naga people.

Literary criticism[edit]

She published a book of literary criticism Henry James' Quest for an Ideal Heroine. It was published in 1989 from Writers Workshop.

Online works[edit]


  • Laburnum for My Head (Penguin, 2009)
  • These Hills Called Home: Stories From A War Zone(Zubaan/Penguin)
  • Ao-Naga Oral Tradition (2000)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Temsula Ao". Penguin India. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Temsüla Ao talks about her life, books and society". The Thumb print. 2 March 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  3. ^ "Poets dominate Sahitya Akademi Awards 2013". Sahitya Akademi. 18 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  4. ^ "WomensWriting.com is available at DomainMarket.com". WomensWriting.com is available at DomainMarket.com. Archived from the original on 18 September 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Temsüla Ao". Edubilla.com. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Five artistes to receive Governor's Award 2009". Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.

External links[edit]