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Poet, essayist Khondakar Ashraf Hossain

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10th-Jan-2020       
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Literature Desk :
Khondakar Ashraf Hossain (4 January 1950-16 June 2013) was a leading post-modernist poet, essayist, translator and editor of Bangladesh.
Early life and education
He was born in Joynagar village in Jamalpur Sadar upazila in 1950. He earned BA degree in 1970, and MA degree in 1971, both are in English and from the University of Dhaka.  He got MAs in Linguistics and ELT from the University of Leeds in 1981. He also obtained a PhD in English from the University of Dhaka and a postgraduate diploma in Teaching English Overseas from the University of Leeds in 1980. His doctoral thesis is entitled Modernism and Beyond: Western Influence on Bangladeshi Poetry, which he defended under Dr. Syed Manzoorul Islam, a doyen and celebrated writer in the department.
Professional and literary life
He was a Professor and Chairman of the Department of English at the University of Dhaka. In May 2013, he had been appointed as the third Vice-Chancellor of Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University at Trishal, Tangail.  He was also a member of the Syndicate & Faculty Selection Committee of the BRAC University.
In his decades-long teaching career, he was immensely popular among his students for his unique lectures delivered with ready wit and remarkable quips. He has published a number of collections of poetry and of essays in Bengali and English. About the readership of poetry, he says: I am not at all concerned with the number of readers of poetry.
Ashraf Hossain translated from Bengali to English and from German and English to Bengali. His poems have been translated into English, German, French, Telegu and Hindi.  He edited and published a literary magazine: Ekobingsho (English: The Twenty-First) which was founded by him in 1985 with its main focus on the new poetry of Bangladesh.
Theatrical work
Ashraf Hossain patronized a drama group called Nagorik since the Seventies, one of Bangladesh's leading theatrical groups, for which he served as both president and dramatist.
Critical reception
He wrote a wide variety of poems in lucid language and with innovative and suggestive imagery. Expressiveness and eloquence in his poetry came from his successful, spontaneous combination of national and world heritage and mythology with his personal experience and feelings.
Though he began to write when post-modernism was blooming fast in the West, he denies identifying himself as an avowed post-modernist.  In his book On Behula’s Raft’s launch ceremony, he said about himself that “my soul is nourished by the alluvial soil and the moistures of riverine Bangladesh, which is my Behula.”  Fakrul Alam considered his poems “humorous and witty” in some cases.  
Syed Manzoorul Islam opined that Hossain at his initial stage was a romantic poet, but is now a realistic poet, as he is writing in a very self-conscious way. His love poems are characterised by stark realism rather than by romantic euphoria. Anisuzzaman deemed his poetry as the socio-political representation of Bangladesh. He explored not only the contemporary social and political condition of his country but also “the grounds of existential philosophy in conceiving human life as fragile yet undying, as self-destructive yet eternal.” His poetry is noted for its engagement with philosophical concerns.
He died of heart attack in Lab-aid hospital in Dhaka on 16 June 2013.  
Books:
Poetry: Tin Romonir Qasida (1984), Partho Tomar Teebro Teer (1986), Jiboner Soman Chumuk (1989), Sundori O Ghrinar Ghungur (1991), Jamuna Porba (1998), Jonmo Baul (2001), Tomar Namey Brishti Namey Aiona Dekhey Andha Manush.
Anthologies: Nirbachito Kobita (1995), Kobita Songroho, On Behula's Raft (2008).
Prose: Romantic and Modern: Latitudes and Longitudes of Poetry
Collections of essays: Bangladesher Kobita: Ontorongo Obolokon (A Study on Bangladeshi Poetry), Chirayoto Puraan (Classical Mythology), Kabitar Ontorjami, Adhunik Uttaradhunik O Onnyanya, Prosongo (Bengali Poetry in the contexts of Modernism, postmodernism and other trends), Bishwokobitar Sonali Shosyo (Gleanings from World Poetry), Modernism and Beyond: Western Influences on Bangladeshi poetry.
Criritism: Rabindranath, Yeats Ebong Gitanjali (2008), Bangalir Dwidha O Rabindranath Ebong Bibidho Totyotalash (2013).
Translations: Selected Poems of Paul Celan (from German into Bengali), Folk Poems from Bangladesh (from Bengali into English) co-written with Serajul Islam Choudhury and Kabir Chowdhury, Folk Tales from Bangladesh (from Bengali into English), Elements of General Phonetics by David Abercrombie (into Bengali), Sophocles’ King Oedipus, Euripides’ Alcestis, Medea (into Bengali), Terry Eagleton's Literary Theory: An Introduction (into Bengali), Edith Hamilton's Mythology (into Bengali), Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Medea by Euripides, Alcestis by Euripides.
Editorial: The Dhaka University Studies (Journal of the Faculty of Arts), Editor, Ekobingsho ("The Twenty-Firs", a poetry magazine), Editor, Selected Poems of Nirmalendu Goon (Edited, with an introduction), The Bangla Academy English-Bengali Dictionary (Co-edited, with a note on pronunciation), An English Anthology (Co-edited, published by Department of English, Dhaka University)

Awards and honours : 1987 - Alaol Literary Award (for his poetry), 1998 - West Bengal Little Magazine Award (for editing), 2013 - Jibananda Puraskar.
References
n  Zainul Abedin (8 March 2015). ‘Khondakar Ashraf Hossain.’ The Daily Star. Dhaka. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
n Ahmed, Mohiuddin (2002). Six Seasons Review (vol. 2, Number 3&4). University Press Limited. ISBN 978-984-05-1652-0.
n ‘Anti-India forces involved in mutiny: Bangladesh author.’ The Times of India. 14 March 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
n  ‘Professor Dr. Khondakar Ashraf Hossain.’ bracu.ac.bd. BRACU. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
n  Khondakar Ashraf Hossain, Department of English, University of Dhaka Archived 18 June 2013 at Archive.today
n  ‘Khondakar Ashraf Hossain.’ The University Press Limited. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
n ‘Khondakar Ashraf Hossain.’ Foundationsaarcwriters.com. Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
n  ‘New VC at JKKNIU.’ The Independent. Dhaka. 7 May 2013. Archived from the original on 20 June 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
n  Imran, Nadee Naboneeta (27 September 2012). ‘Khondakar Ashraf Hossain.’ New Age. Dhaka.
o Arif, Hakim (2012). ‘Poetry.’ In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
n  ‘Ekobingsho.’ Ekobingsho. 21 March 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
 n 104. Padma Meghna Jamuna - 207 208 - PADMA MEGHNA
n  ‘Khondakar Ashraf Hossain’s 2nd death anniversary observed.’ The Daily Observer. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
n  ‘A poetic soul nourished by geography.’ The Daily Star. 29 March 2008. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
n  Selina Hossain, Nurul Islam and Mobarak Hossain, ed. (2000). Bangla Academy Dictionary of Writers. Dhaka: Bangla Academy. p. 99. ISBN 984-07-4052-0.
n  Mukul, Akramuzzaman; Shoma, Nasima (27 April 2012). ‘A Conversation with Poet Khondakar Ashraf Hossain.’ The Independent. Dhaka. Archived from the original on 3 May 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
n  ‘On Behula’s Raft launched.’ The Independent. Dhaka. 18 February 2008. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
n "‡Lv›`Kvi Avkivd ‡nv‡mb GKRb `k©bm‡PZb mvwnwZ¨K". ". Alokito Bangla. 17 June 2013.
n ‘Khondakar Ashraf no more.’ bdnews24.com. 4 January 1950. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
n ‘Prof Ashraf Hossain passes away.’ The Independent. Dhaka. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
n ‘Prof Khondakar Ashraf Hossain passes away.’ The Daily Star. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
n ‘Professor Khondakar Ashraf Hossain dies.’ Dhaka Tribune. Archived from the original on 26 June 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
n ‘On Behula’s Raft: Selected Poems.’ uplbooks.com.bd. UPL. 2008. Retrieved 8 March 2018.  "iex›`«bv_ Bh‡?U&m MxZvÄvwj". porua.com.bd. porua. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
n evOvwji wØav I iex›`«bv_ Ges wewea ZË¡Zvjvk. porua.com.bd (in Bengali). porua. Retrieved 8 March 2018.

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