Even though Assamese Poetry has left an indelible imprint on the Indian literary landscape, yet much of it is largely unknown to a wider readership. This volume in attempting to fill this literary void, brings together some of the finest poets of the second half of the twentieth century, beginning with Navakanta Barua who gave a new language and a new idiom to Assamese poetry. Finely, selected and ably translated, many of them for the first time in English translation, the volume also includes Ajit Barua, Hiren Bhattacharya, Nilmoni Phukan, Nirmalprabha Bordoloi, Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya, Keshav Mahanta, Hem Barua, Homen Borgohain, Dilip Barua, Hari Barkakti, Hirendra Nath Dutta, Bhaben Barua, Harekrishna Deka, Bireswar Barua, Tarun Barua, Anis-ul-Zaman and Niren Barua.
Dhirendra Nath Bezboruah taught English and Linguistics for over two decaded. The founder editor of the Sentinel, English daily published from Guwahati, Bezboruah has been translating Assamese poetry and fiction extensively since the 1970s. His works include the English translation of Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya’s novel Mrityunjay which won the Jnanpith Award in 1982. He was also the president of the Editors Guild of India from 1995 to 1997.
This is a slim anthology of my English translation of Assamese poetry written in the second half of the twentieth century. I do not presume to make any claims that the anthology is a representative collection of Assamese Poetry written in those fifty years. In fact, considering the size of the anthology, it is inevitable that some poets have got left out. It is a collection of Assamese poetry that I liked and poetry that could be translated without very much being lost in the process of translation. The focus is thus more on poetry than on the poets.
The anthology begins with poems of Navakanta Barua because he gave his contemporaries as well as younger poets a new language and a new idiom. He has thus left us a great legacy of not only an enriched Assamese language but also of many excellent poets.
I have dispensed with a long preface because I feel that readers should be left alone to read and enjoy poetry on their own instead of being told in advance about trends, influences and so on that may have worked on the poets. I have translated all the poems except one (“The Silt” by Navakanta Barua). As a translator, my major concern has been whether I have succeeded in rendering all these beautiful poems competently enough in another language and with total fidelity to the original poems.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the National Book Trust, India, for having agreed to publish this small anthology of translated Assamese poetry in an age when readers of poetry have dwindled in number and publishers of Poetry have become even more scarce. I am also indebted to Shri Pradip Achraya and Shri Pankaj Thakur for a lot of help.
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