Bengali Poetry : where it stands today
by anupam mukhopadhyay
Rated "G" by the Author.
edited: Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Posted: Tuesday, September 23, 2008
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Bengali poetry is certainly rich .
|Rabindranath Tagore --- this one name is enough to make us proud of our wealth . He died in 1941 . More than six decades have passed . But he is still our friend , philosopher and guide . He is eternal . we can never surpass his achievements . However , it was difficult avoiding his influence in his time . It did not get easier after his death . Now it does not seem easy , too . In his lifetime , Rabindra saw such attempts by THE KALLOL POETS ( Achitya Kumar Sengupta , Premendra Mitra ... ).
After Rabindranath we received Jibanananda Das , Amiya Chakrabarty , Bishnu De , Sudhindranath Dutta , and Buddhadeb Basu . They are the major poets of 1930s . Among them Jibananda is the most popular now .But his popularity came only after his accidental death . He wrote the celebrated poem BANALATA SEN . it is one of the most loved ones in our language . Anyway , he was deeply influenced by Poe and Yeats . His treatment of historical times , balance between light and darkness , Anima , myths , Bengal's natural beauty ... just remarkable !
But Amiya Chakrabarty is now considered the foremost important poet among the poets of 1930s . He went to many countries . He was truly an international Bengali . But his heart remained always Indian , particularly Bengali . This can be noticed in his poetry . he was close to Rabindranath , but was never shadowed by him .
The others ( Bishnu , Sudhindranath , and Buddhadeb ) are now thought to be important thinkers and essayists , but minor poets .
But the poet who completely abandoned Rabindranath’s aura , was Sukumar Roy . his ‘ Abol Tabol ´ is , and always remain , a gem in the casket of Bengali poetry . He is much populr among children . but no other poet has been able to create such a fascnating world of nonsense after him . Unfortunately he died young . It was a great loss .
Among the poets of the 40s , the most remembered poet is Sukanta Bhattacharya . He passed away at an early age . It was a great loss . We lost his promises and sheer talent .
But it was Subhash Mukhopadhyay who changed many aspects of modern Bengali poetry . He was a communist . later he was disillusioned . He remained socially active . His poems always refer to his contemporary society . But what a marvelous skill he had ! And a sympathetic heart to criticize our people and our time .
Poets of the 50s are Shankha Ghosh , Shakti Chattopadhyay , Sunil Gangopadhyay , Tarapada Roy , Sharat Kumar mukhopadhyay , Alokeranjan Dashgupta , Amitabha Dashgupta … most of them were from east-Bengal . They came to write poetry only to see themselves socially established . But there are two poets among them --- binoy majumdar and Alok Sarkar . They are true poets . Binoy applied mathematical principles to poetry . Sometimes he failed . But the attempt was valuable . Alok sarkar knows where to start from philosophy to reach poetry .
The most important poet of the 60s is Malay Roychowdhury . He started the world-famous Hungry Movement in Bengali poetry and literature . The Movement was initially spearheaded by Roy Choudhury, Samir Roychoudhury (his elder brother), Shakti Chattopadhyay, and Haradhon Dhara (alias Debi Roy). Thirty more poets and artists subsequently joined them, the best-known being Binoy Majumdar, "Utpal Kumar Basu, Falguni Ray, Subimal Basak, Tridib Mitra, Shambhu Rakshit, and Anil Karanjai. Roy Choudhury is to the "Hungryalist Movement" as Stéphane Mallarmé was to Symbolism, Ezra Pound to Imagism, André Breton to Surrealism, and Allen Ginsberg to the Beats.
The movement is now known in English as Hungryalism or the "Hungry generation", its name being derived from Geoffrey Chaucer's "In the sowre hungry tyme"; the philosophy was based on Oswald Spengler's "The Decline of the West". The movement's bulletins were published both in Bengali and infrequently in English as well as Hindi Language by Roy Choudhury since November 1961.
The movement, however, ended in 1965. Thereafter Roy Choudhury ventured out, apart from poetry, into fiction, drama, and essays on social and cultural issues that Bengali people have been suffering from. Howard McCord, formerly English teacher at the Washington State University and later professor of English language and literature at Bowling Green University, who met Roy Choudhury during a visit to Calcutta, has succinctly traced Malay's emergence in these words in Ferlinghetti-edited City Lights Journal 3: "Malay Roy Choudhury, a Bengali poet, has been a central figure in the Hungry Generation's attack on the Indian cultural establishment since the movement began in the early 1960s". He wrote, "acid, destructive, morbid, nihilistic, outrageous, mad, hallucinatory, shrill--these characterise the terrifying and cleansing visions" of Malay Roy Choudhury that "Indian literature must endure if it is to be vital again".
Another great poet from this decade is Bhaskar Chakrabarty . His ‘shitkal kabe asbe suparna ´ is a must read now .
The poets of 70s tried to follow the poets of the 50s . But the were not so powerful . among them Joy Goswami is the most discussed hand . He combined the class and the mass successfully . other poets to be mentioned are Shyamalkanti Dash , Mridul Dashgupta , Ananya Roy and Gourshankar Bandopadhyay .Now Shyamalkanti is an established editor . he edits the journal KABISAMMELAN .
The poets of the 80s came to change the course of Bengali poetry . Barin Ghosal , Swadesh Sen , Shankar Lahiri , Swapan Roy , aloke biswas , Aryanil mukhopadhyay , pranab paul , Ranjan Maitra , Dhiman Chakrabarty are the poets . They started the famous NATUN KABITA ( new poetry ) movement in Bengali . Later poets like atanu bandopadhyay ,Anupam Mukhopadhyay , Indranil Ghosh , Arupratan Ghosh , sabyasachi Sanyal , Amitabha Praharaj joined the movement .
Now Swadesh Sen is the most important among the living poets . He has his deep-seated private domain. Swadesh's poetry creates a private cosmos inside the outer world that we overlook. Sometimes Swadesh celebrates a quiet observation, as if in a search for the true shape of the life we are in . But never really tries to define its shape. He has a language, always fresh from garden . A language, that is always attempting to renew its simplicity.
One can see the influence of William Carlos Williams in Swadesh Sen's lines , but that is simply coincidental . Sen's poetry has a small town background . Jamshedpur is a small town , but an important industrial city in India. Sen's poetry is inexorably trying to connect to the goodness of common life around him, while trying to say almost nothing important .
Swadesh Sen is the last name in traditional mainstream modern Bangla poetry and the first name in the new Bengali poetry. The new generation of poets ... they worship him to be a god .
And our poetry is waiting for another sunrise . The day seems to be too long now . . .