Poet Asad Chowdhury no more
Eminent poet, radio and television personality, journalist and cultural activist Asad Chowdhury breathed his last at a hospital in Canada's Toronto on October 5, Thursday. The poet was 80.
He received the Bangla Academy Literary Award in 1987 and the Ekushey Padak in 2013.
Born into an illustrious family hailing from Mehediganj Upazilla of Barisal district, Chowdhury studied at the University of Dhaka and began his career as a lecturer in Bangla language and literature at Brahmanbaria College.
Chowdhury was a contributor and broadcaster of Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra during Bangladesh's Liberation War in 1971. For years, he worked at various newspapers including an assistant editorship in The Joybangla in Kolkata and The Daily Janapada in Dhaka. He was also a correspondent for The Daily Purbodesh from 1968 to 1971.
Later he became the director of Bangla Academy and joined as an editor at the Bangla service of Deutsche Welle.
An accomplished poet, Chowdhury also worked on children's rhymes, collections of essays, and biographies. His own work has been translated into several languages including English, French, German, Hindi, Urdu, and Malayalam.
Some of his other notable collections of poems include Bitto Nai Besat Nai, and wrote many poems like "Ekka Dokka", "Joler Madhye Lekhajokha", "Je Pare Paruk", and others.
With the publication of his first collection of poems, Tabak Deya Paan in 1975, Bangla literary scene witnessed the emergence of a powerful new voice. In the poem "Shottopherari" (Truth-absconder), the poet wonders where truth has escaped—whether one can find truth in the drawers of the journalists, or on papers, scripts, pens, or even empty pockets. "Truth is nowhere", the poet argues in the poem. Elsewhere, addressing the martyred intellectuals of the nation, he laments, "What you wanted to say/is Bangladesh saying so?"
Often seen on national television, the poet cut an appealing, admirable figure with his pleasant demeanour and warm fondness for the people and places of this land. Soft spoken and articulate, Asad Chowdhury was well known for the lucidity of his language—in both written and verbal forms. His poetry bears testament to his principle of avoiding complexity of form and content and instead favoured clarity and precision.
His passing will be marked as an irreparable loss for the literary aficionado and for all Bangladeshis.