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Poet Shamsur Rahman: A key figure in Bengali literature

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03rd-Nov-2017       
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Literature Desk :
Shamsur Rahman (23 October 1929 - 17 August 2006) was a poet, columnist and journalist. He emerged in the later half of the 20th century, wrote more than sixty books of poetry and is considered a key figure in Bengali literature. Major themes in his poetry and writings include liberal humanism, human relations, romanticised rebellion of youth, the emergence of and consequent events in Bangladesh, and opposition to religious fundamentalism.
Shamsur Rahman was born in his grandfather’s house No 46  Mahut-Tuli, Dhaka.
He had a long career as a journalist and served as the editor of a national daily, Dainik Bangla and the weekly Bichitra in the 1980s. A shy person by nature, he became an outspoken liberal intellectual in the 1990s against fundamentalism and reactionary nationalism in Bangladesh.
Shamsur Rahman's first book of poetry, Prothom Gaan Dwityo Mrittyur Agey (First Song Before the Second Death) was published in 1960. He had to go through the political turbulence of 60’s and 70’s which also reflected in his poems clearly. He wrote his famous poem Asader Shirt, written with respect to the mass uprising of 1969 led by Maulana Bhasani. During the Bangladesh Liberation War he wrote a number of poems based on the war. These poems were so inspiring that they were recited at the camps of freedom fighters. Later these poems were published in Bondi Shibir Theke (From Confinement in Enemy Territory) in 1972. Later he continued writing poems in the independent Bangladesh and remained as the poet whose poems reflect the history of the nation.
Shamsur Rahman wrote most of his poems in free verse, often with the rhythm style known as Poyar or Okhshorbritto. It is popularly known that he followed this pattern from poet Jibanananda Das. He also wrote poems in two other major patterns of Bengali rhythmic style, namely, Matrabritto and Shworobritto.
Shamsur Rahman started his professional career as a Co-Editor in the English daily Morning News in 1957. Later he left this job and went to the Dhaka center of the then Radio Pakistan. But he returned to his own rank at Morning News in 1960 and was there till 1964. After the liberation of Bangladesh he wrote columns in the daily Dainik Bangla. In 1977 he became the Editor of this daily. He also jointly worked as the Editor of Bichitra, a weekly published since 1973. In 1987 he left the daily as a protest against government injustice. He also worked as the Editor of monthly literary magazine Adhuna for two years since 1986. and as the main Editor of the weekly Muldhara in 1989. He worked as one of the editors of Kobikantha, an irregular poetry magazine, in 1956.
He died on 17 August 2006 of heart and kidney failure after having been in a coma for 12 days. He was 77.
Zillur Rahman Siddiqui, a friend and critic, describes Shamsur Rahman as one who is “deeply rooted in his own tradition.” In his opinion, Shamsur Rahman “still soaks the language of our times, transcending the limits of geography. In his range of sympathy, his catholicity, his urgent and immediate relevance for us, Shamsur Rahman is second to none.”
Literary works : Poetry :  Prothom Gan Dwitio Mrittur Age (1960), Roudro Korotite (1963), Biddhosto Nilima (1967), Niralokey Dibboroth (1968), Neej Bashbhumey (1970), Bondi Shibir Theke (1972), Tableay Applegulo Heshe Othay (1986), Obirol Jolahromi (1986), Amra Kojon Shongi (1986), Jhorna Amar Angulay (1987), Shopnera Dukray Othay Barbar (1987), Khub Beshi Valo Thakte Nei (1987), Moncher Majhkhanay (1988), Buk Tar Bangladesher Hridoy (1988), Hridoy Amar Prithibir Alo (1989), Shay Ak Porobashay(1990), Grihojudder Agae(1990), Khondito Gourob(1992), Dhongsher Kinare Bashay(1992), Akash Ashbe Neme(1994), Uzar Baganay (1995), Asho Kokil Asho Shornochapa, Manob Hridoy Naibeddo Shajai, Hemonto Shondhay Kichukal(1997), Chayagoner Shonge Kichukkhon Meghlokay Monoz(1998), Shoundorjo Amar Ghore(1998), Ruper Probale Dogdho Shondha(1998),  Tukro Kichu Shonglaper Shako(1998), Shopno O Dushshopnay Bachay Achi(1999), Nokkhotro Bajate Bajate(2000), Shuni Hridoyer Dhoni(2000), Hridopodmay Jotsna Dolay (2001), Bhognostupay Golaper Hashi (2002), Bhangachora Chand Mukh Kalo Kore Dhukchay (2003), Ak Phota kemon Onol(1986), Horiner Har (1993), Gontobbo Nai Ba Thakuk (2004), Krishnopokkhay Purnimar Dikay (2004), Gorostanay Kokiler Korun Aaobhan (2005), Andhokar Theke Aloy (2006), Na Bastob Na Dushshopno (2006)
Short stories :  Shamsur Rahmaner Golpo
Novels : Octopas(1983), Adbhut Adhar Ak (1985), Niyoto Montaz(1985), Elo Je Abelay (1994)
Children's literature : Alating Belating (1974), Dhan Bhanle Kuro Debo (1977), Golap Phote Khukir Hatay(1977), Rongdhonur Shako (1994), Lal Fulkir Chora (1995), Noyonar Jonno (1997), Amer Kuri Jamer Kuri (2004), Noyonar Jonno (2005)
Autobiography : Kaaler Dhuloy Lekha, Smritir Shohor
Collected columns : Akanto Bhaban
Poems in translation : Robert Froster Kobita (1966), Robert Froster Nirbachito Kobita (1968), Khawaja Farider Kobita(1968)
Drama in translation : William Shakespeare's Hamlet : Uzein O'Neeler Markomilions
Others : Uponnyash Shomogro, Noyonar Uddeshe Golap, Kobitar Shather Gerostali, Gorosthane Kokiler Korun Ahban, Nirbachito[SR] 100 Kobita, Noyonar Jonno Ekti Golap, Shera Shamsur Rahman, Rongdhonur Sako, Shamsur Rahman-er Sreshtha Kobita (1976), Premer Kobita (1981), Shamsur Rahmaner Sreshtho Kobita (from Kolkata) (1985), Shamsur Rahmaner Rajnaitik Kobita (1988), Shamsur Rahmaner Premer Kobita (1993), Shonirbachito Premer Kobita (1993), Nirbachito Chora O Kobita (1996), Kabbyashombhar (1996), Chorashomogro (1998), Prem O Prokitir Kobita (2004), Shera Shamsur Rahman (2004), Shamsur Rahman Kobita Shongroho (2005), Shamsur Rahman Goddo Shongroho (2005), Kobita Shomogro Ak (2005), Kobtia Shomogro Dui (2006)
Awards : Adamjee Award (1962), Bangla Academy Award (1969), Ekushey Padak (1977), Swadhinata Dibosh Award (1991) , Mitshubishi Award of Japan (1992), Ananda Puroshker from India (1994).  TLM South Asian Literature Award for the Masters, 2006.

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