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     Volume 8 Issue 76 | July 3, 2009 |

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A People's Poet

Tithi Farhana
Dilwar Khan

Poet Dilwar is a poet whose expressions unequivocally expose the mundane life of the common people. That is why we are acquainted with him as an incomparable poet of the people (that Bangla literature has given birth to).

Dilwar Khan was born on 1st January 1937 in Sylhet and unveiled his poetic flair at the age of 13 and was greatly influenced by Kazi Nazrul Islam writing “Saifullah hey Nazrul”. Gradually he was influenced by many humanitarian and revolutionary poets and philosophers of the world, such as Kazi Nazrul Islam, Maxim Gorky, Jean Paul Satre, Chekhov, P.B.Shelley, Alxander Pushkin and W.H. Auden.

When asked what his philosophy of life was he answers with the following lines of a poem:
“A rose plant ceaselessly tells,
Plant me whether in the garden or cemetery
I will bring into being the rose, the queen of all flowers.”

Dilwar identifies his words/ poems as a “channel of communication with God”. Like Tagore's Jibon Debota, he is reproducing Jibon Dorshon and humanism. Sylhet being a land of Sufism and mysticism Dilwar has always been influenced by this tradition and wrote his popular song, “Tumi rohmoter nodia/ Doa koro moray Hazrat Shajalal Awlia”

According to this versatile poet, his most favourite activity is to engage in conversation with people. In fact it is humanity in general that interests and inspires him. But he is also an intense patriot and has often written poetry and fiction based on his frequent visits to villages and his understanding of people's pain and suffering especially when they are oppressed. He has visited rural areas of Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Sunamganj including Somshernagar, Kalipur, Alinagar, Barampur, Cholimpur, Rampur etc. He visited Shobdokor Para of Kamolganj and after coming back, wrote his longest poem “Shobdokor Matir Jogotay”. His words are like slogans, slogans against social and state notoriety, oppression on the common people. He says “People know me as a socialist. I am not going to comment on that. I am often moved by the events taking place around me in this chaotic world. I just try to pen my emotions, my feeling and my ideology”. Thus he is popularly known as “People's Poet”.

Bibliography of Poet Dilwar
Gighasha, Poetry ( 1953)
Oykothan Poetry (1964)
Pubal Howha Collection of Songs. (1965).
Udbigno Ullash Poetry (1969).
Bangla Tomer Amer, Collection of Songs.(1972).
Facing The Music, Collection Of English Poetry.(1975).
Sonisto Sonnet. Collection Of Sonnets.(1977).
Roktay Amar Onadi Osti, Poetry.(1981).
Bangladesh Jonmo Na Nelay, Collection of Essays. (1985).
Nirbachito Kobita.(Poetry).1987
Dilwar Rer Shoto Chora. Collection Of Rhymes.( 1989).
Dilwar Rer Ekushayer Kobita( Poetry).1993.
Dilwar Rer Shadinotar Kobita.( Poetry.(1993).
Choray O Ha Ko Kho. Collection of Rhymes (1994).
Dilwar Rer Rochona Somogro, First Part. (1999).
Dilwar Rer Rochona Somogro, Second Part. (2000).
Varot Bangladesh Mayetrer Dakay , Travel Writing( 2001).
Shoprithebi Roeybo Sojibpoetry.(2004).
Dui Meru, Dui Dana. Poetry.( 2009).

As an environmentalist he is concerned about the degradation of environment. Some of his poems are full of metaphors and similies such as akasher drobotara, digonter nilkonto, suprachin jontur, mespotomiar krishok and jatok. His nature- poems are somewhat different. He projects his revolutionary ideals expresses his sympathy for the tormented people through nature which is a media for his own purpose. Keanebridgeay Surjo Doy (Sunrise at Kean bridge) is such a poem. Here he portrays some natural phenomena like “calm dawn”, “gentle breeze”, “blue sky”, and “chirping of birds”.

Dilwar's complex philosophy regarding life, death, soul and salvation is expressed by these lines, 'At the root of all creation is a thirst for passionate rain / O heart, wish for salvation to that magnificent soul. Dilwar uses allusions from Greek, Roman, Norse and Hindu mythology. In the poem “The sun never sets”, he says, “Listen to me / o god Apollo: the sun never sets/ that you call sun set remember: it's your illusion”

Tormented people all over the world are the subject of his poems. “Many of my poems are inspired by newspaper articles" says Dilwar. "I remember, once I wrote a poem on the famous revolutionary leader of Kenya, Jumo Kenyatta. I was moved by his party slogan that was OU HU RU or Liberty! Liberty! I identified myself as a follower of Jumo's rebel band who was fighting hard for a positive socialist change in his country".

He also wrote the first Bangla poem published about South African leader Nelson Mandela in 1964. “I am amazed by the conviction that Mandela shows. I supported the South African war against apartheid. Today I feel delighted to see my South African brothers have won their war”. Dilwar has also written a poem on Agni Kanya (Daughter of Fire) Motia Choudhury, Minister of Agriculture and a versatile political figure of Bangladesh. His poem on Aagortola Shorojontro Mamla, Shorojontoro Mamla Aar Ney was published in the Itifaq in 1969. Later he also wrote a poem on Manik Mia as a tribute.

Dilwar's is also voice against imperialism and invasion of any nation, during the American attack in Vietnam Dilwar announced his anti- American stand through a fiery poem titled Vietnam! O Vietnam!

“I am a strong critic of the US policy against terror. They did all wrong things for many years and are still doing things that have destructive and disreputable impact on the world order. I have challenged president George W. Bush through an open letter. See! He must know something; whatever mistake they make or whatever dishonourable deed they do will never go unchallenged. Progressive forces must generate a battle against this evil.”

Dilwar is tremendously fascinated by US president Barak Obama's vision on Change.

Recently, he composed a poem on him where he eulogizes Obama by expressing this line “democracy now means everybody in me”.

His pen is also against the war criminals of Bangladesh. He expects the present Government to bring them under trial.

Dilwar's poetry has an international appeal. Humanism is one of the vital themes of his poetry, that's why, he wrote a poem on Marilyn Monroe called “A Glance at Marilyn Monroe", depicting Monroe's tragic life. He gave us a diverse description of the actress, was published in the early sixties in the Weekly Eastern Herald. That poem (A glance at Marlin Monroe) commenced a relationship between him and famous American poet Norman Rosten, poet laureate of New York. This friendship is one Dilwar treasures the most. They used to exchange letters regularly. Before his death Rosten wanted to publish an English translation of Dilwar's poems and write its foreword.

Poet Dilwar's professional life is occupied with a variety of experience. He nurtured his talent in journalism and freelance writing. He worked in Daily Songbad as an assistant editor, but left this job and came back to Sylhet in 1969 and still lives there. That period he was entirely concentrated on his organisation “Somosshor Lekhok and Shilpi Shongstha”. His organisation has played a significant role in the mass revolution of 69 to our war of Independence. After independence, he moved his voyage to free lance writing. His writings and articles have been published in local, national and international newspapers.

He was also an editor of a few literary magazines and newspapers including Somosshor (1969-1971), Ullash (1975), Moumachi (1975-76), Gram Surmar Chora (1976), Moruddan (1981), Somoyar Dak (1977), and Sylheter Dak (1986). His poems are still being published in the literary pages of national newspapers. Dilwar is also a lyricist. Three of his patriotic songs were sung in Shadin Bangla Betar Kendra.

He is a recipient of the nation's highest award in poetry (Bangla Academy Prize) in 1980 Academy Fellowship in 1981, Abul Monsur Literary Award in 1986; Dewan Gulam Murtaza Award in 1991 may be mentioned. Recently he was awarded the Ekushey Padak, the highest civilian award, for literature.

The self-effacing poet shies away from self-promotion and lives in his birth place Bhirthukola, Sylhet on the bank of the Surma. Local people call him Surma Parrar Kobi (Poet of the River Surma). His message to young poets is “love your country and remember Wordsworth's speech the child is the father of the nation. Despite suffering from Parkinson's Disease, he still continues to think and write about people around him and far away. According to him 'In the dawn of life I see the sky, what I realise/ Drops of sorrows are not in the eyes /hence I observe the scarlet hope of sun rise'.



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