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‘A poet needs to meditate a lot’

  • Published at 02:21 pm December 8th, 2017
  • Last updated at 01:37 pm July 19th, 2018
‘A poet needs to meditate a lot’

Mohammad Rafiq is one of the pre-eminent Bangladeshi poets. He has been awarded Gemcon Sahitya Puroshkar 2017 for his book Duti Ganthakabyo. In this interview, he expresses his joy on receiving the award and talks about his poetry. 

You have received all the prestigious awards of Bengali literature. Gemcon Literary Award is a new achievement in your literary career. How do you feel about receiving this award? 

Awards generally don’t define the standard of someone’s work; the standard lies inside his/her writing. What authors actually have is the love of readers. But it’s true that receiving an award is always a joyous experience. It distinguishes you in many ways – in your society and family. An award impacts other parts of life more than a literary career. However, I am happy that I have received Gemcon Literary Award 2017. I am really delighted. 

The prize has been conferred on you for your poetry collection Duti Ganthakabyo. Would you please tell us something about your book? 

When a poet starts writing, he/she develops some themes and ideas. Such a theme was liberty of women and their future, which kept coming in my writing over the years. I believe the future of our country is inseparably linked with women’s uprising. This book is part of a trilogy. Many years ago I wrote one of its parts, Kapila. But if I put them thematically, Behula would be the first part of this trilogy; Mahua, second; and Kapila, third. However, I had written Kapila first. If readers read them all, they will understand my points clearly. I said in the prize-giving ceremony that I was suffering from many physical problems after I had retired from Jahangirnagar University in 2010. I had to frequent hospitals and consult doctors. I lost hope that I would write once again. Suddenly, I felt a sort of inspiration in me, a kind of emotion that kept creeping in me. I started writing Behula almost blindly. I felt a spontaneity in me which helped write the book in 15 days only. I never had to write a single poem twice. It took a month to write Mahua. These three books are my world. You could say that these three together uphold a poetic vision. 

In a recent interview, you said that you had decided to discontinue writing. Can we hope that you would go back on your decision? 

It’s difficult to say now. But a book of mine will be published this year, which has come into existence through a great effort. It’s a poem of 240 pages. Though it’s not an epic, it’s a long poem. After writing this poem, I started thinking what else I can write anew. All my books have new themes and ideas. They don’t repeat the previous books. Actually, I don’t want to repeat anything. I don’t know what lies in future. But I feel that I have an urge to write, and hopefully it won’t let me stop writing. For physical problems, my writing instinct stumbles sometimes and it doesn’t let me think big. I always prefer a novel idea; otherwise, I can’t write. That’s why I said I wouldn't pursue writing anymore. 

Would you like to say something for aspiring poets and writers? 

I would like say that pursuit of fame is not good for one's writing career. A poet needs to meditate a lot. The young poets are after fame and enriching their profile. These don’t go with poetry. If someone writes really good poems, fame would follow anyway. You don’t need to rush for it.   

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