Book Reviews

Bibhas Roy Chowdhury’s Poetic Journey Continues..

Poem Continuous  originally written in Bengali by Bibhas Roy Chowdhury and translated by Kiriti Sengupta .Published by Inner Child Press,U.S.A.
ISBN: 978-0692233184/0692233180,p56. Price Rs.INR 130/- Print

“I swarm across the river while
My mortal floated away in the water….”
(Poem Continuous, p13)

Among the  master builders of contemporary  Bengali poetry, Bibhas Roy Chowdhury, is  a significant name.  Roy Chowdhury, the bard on the banks of Ichhamati, is one of the noted  Bengali  poets of the ‘90s. His poems are like pearls to be read over and over again. Through the apparently disordered but in the deeper sense meaningful words of his poems, the poet has always been translating his philosophical thoughts, untold poetic emotions into poetry. Poetry reigns supreme in his inner self. In this brilliant poetry collection, the poet chronicles the different shades and colours of human existence which centers round  his own poetic creation, life, love, pangs of Partition of Bengal, and his own sorrows and sufferings etc. In the words of noted poet  Sunil Gangopadhyay “Bibhas’s poems have provided much support to the livelihood and struggle. Bangladesh prosper in his poems”. Yes,his poems bear the flavor of his native soil-his birthplace, the terminal town Bongaon (in West Bengal) just 6 km away from Bangladesh border. He is essentially a powerful voice in Bengali poetry. “He is a poet of new empowerment” so said by the eminent  poet Joy Goswami.
But it was Dr. Kiriti Sengupta who came forward to translate his selected 30 poems chosen by the poet himself. This anthology of 30 select translated poems has been named "Poem Continuous - Reincarnated Expressions," and  was published by Inner Child Press, Limited (U.S.A). In order to uplift Bengali poetry and spread it worldwide, Dr. sengupta who himself a  bilingual poet, took great pains  to translate these gems into English. Thanks to him for translating such a powerful voice in Bengali poetry. In the section “Translator’s Note” of this wonderful poetry collection, Dr. Sengupta wrote -- “Roy Chowdhury’s poems are exceptionally easy to read; they sound easy when read, but they are extremely difficult to translate into English.” In the very next pagagraph of his Note, he said, “Bengali is supposedly the sweetest language of the world,and there is every possible danger as one tends to translate the typical Bengali flavor. Getting into the soul of a poem is undoubtedly the most challenging task for the translator.”  Full creadit goes to the translator who skillfully translated these beautiful poems into English.
In his foreword, Don Martin, the best selling author and editor from Arizonia, U.S.A beautifully inked - “Poem Continuous is a literary tour-de-force which  well-demonstrates that Bengali poetry can, in fact, be accurately and well translated.” To quote him again “Poem Continuous is a wonderful introduction to the lush world of Bengali poetry”
In the very first poem of this  collection “The People” the poet aesthetically envisage his melancholic feeling in  rhetorical lines-

How can I depart?
Sorry would feel lonely then !
It needs a companion to speak with…

                          (Poem Continuous, p18)

In the poem “Bhatiali-Song of The Boatmen” the poet, who had spent some days in a refugee camp during the Partition of Bengal,has wonderfully depicted his pangs of the Partition of Bengal  in these lines-

“In the core of my heart I nurse the wounded soul carefully
Union of the parted Bengal will aid in my recovery..”
(Poem Continuous, p23)

One can, no doubt, agree with the translator when he writes “His wounds are fresh even now;wounds are essentially native, and they are difficult to translate into other languages.”

In the poem “I Can Leave, But Why?” which has been dedicated to another eminent poet Shakti Chattopadhyay, the bard seeks fixity in the world of flux existence. Here his treatment is essentially romantic “Will those plants survive even after my demise?. his line reminds us of Keats’ “Ode to Nightingale”.

In the very short  poem titled “ The Offering” the poet acknowledged Tagore as the fountain of Bengali poetry and in those four powerful lines the poet wonderfully  presents before us  his concern about the survival-crisis of the emerging poets

“Poison in the diet
The budding poet!
Ye, the source…
What is in your mind?

                          (Poem Continuous, p25)

In the poem “The Odor Of Being Upset” he strongly avouches that “ I will stand against death (p30). It  reminds of Donne’s Death, be not Proud or Dylan Thomas’ “And Death Shall Have No Dominion”. The difference is, he wants to conquer death with “A strong dose of poetry”. Riding on the viewless wings of poetry the poet wants to reach beyond the mundane existence. This beautiful poem touches the inner corridor of hearts of the readers.

His poems like Death By Will, Speaking With The Self,Poetry,Bibhas-The Illimined Expression, The Connector, The Debt,  Yes,The Wound, show his  artistic skills as a mature poet. This magical book of verse is decorated with beautiful imagery and metaphors which will aesthetically attract the readers.  The noted poet and critic Dr. Sunil Sharma rightly said in his short review  “If already bored of the cliched poetry in English or its effeteness, sample this one coming straight from heart in cadence musical and staccato both. The poems will come alive and crackle in your hands like verbal crackers. True to say, this translated  poetry  collection  Poem Continuous  is a welcome addition to the world of poetry and a worthy entry to the personal and library collections.


More by :  Santanu Halder

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