Third World Bengali Literary Conference hosted in US
"The Third World Bengali Literary Conference", organised by the North America Bengali Literary Society (NABLS), was held on Zoom. The event drew expatriate Bengali literature aficionados from all over the world. Seminar speakers included expatriate writers and academics from the US, UK, Australia, and Canada. The topics included "Empowerment of women in Bengali literature," "Immigrant Bengali Literature in 50 years since independence," "The life and literature of immigrant Bengalis: synthesis, assimilation and adaptation," "The role of social media and publishing in dissemination and promotion fo immigrant Bengali writers," and "The role of epidemics and pandemics in great literature."
"Fifty years of Independence" and "Empowerment of Women" were the key themes of this year's conference. The opening session included a videotaped message from London-based columnist and author Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, who wrote the lyrics for "Amar Bhayer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February." Ekushey Padak-winning writer Jyotiprakash Dutta and Bangla Academy award-winning writer Purabi Basu, convener of the conference, made opening remarks. The rest of the session included poignant reminiscences of four freedom fighters currently living in the US. Mahbub Hasan Saleh joined in from Belgium to recite one of his poems. The session was compered by Canada-based poet Dilara Hafiz.
A 430-page anthology of Bengali poems, short stories, essays and a one-act-play, "Hridbangla", was published online and in print to commemorate the conference. Expatriate Bengali writers from 15 countries in five continents contributed to the anthology.
NABLS was founded a few years ago with the goal of promoting Bengali literature beyond the boundaries of the Bengali-speaking regions, and enhance understanding and goodwill between expatriate Bengali writers and aficionados of Bengali literature. They host a literary conference and publishing an accompanying literary anthology annually. The first conference was held in Atlanta. Subsequent conferences were held online due to the pandemic.
On October 10, a musical soiree rounded off this year's conference, which included a slew of seminars, brief book introductions, and separate sessions of authors reading from their poetry and prose.
The organisation has announced that next year's conference will be held in Los Angeles.