Tug at the Gillnet, a collection of translated poems by young Assamese poet Bijoy Sankar Barman, dwells on the complex emotions, grief, hope and despair, the idea of death as well as the uncertainty of life.

The book containing 53 poems, penned originally in Assamese by Barman, has been translated into English by renowned translator Nirendra Nath Thakuria. Thakuria has also written a 12-page long preface, where he interprets the deeper meaning of Bijoy Sankar’s poems.  His succinctly written proem will certainly entice the readers to peep into Barman’s poetry.

Many of his poems draw upon his native place Rupiabathan, a picturesque village in lower Assam’s Nalbari district.  “From the very beginning, he has tried to find a poetic voice of his own and a poetic idiom that has roots in the regional dialect of his native place Rupiabathan…In the very formative period of his creative life, Bijoy inherited and absorbed the local cultural elements. He seems to have defined his poetic mission and tried to accomplish it with a rare motivation,” Thakuria writes.

Barman has made death a central theme in many of his poems, where he expresses his idea towards death. He has also captured indigenous tribal people’s plight caused by coal miners.

Barman has carved a niche for himself in the Assamese poetic landscape. His poetic craftsmanship is being widely endorsed by quite a few luminaries of the literary world. “He (Bijoy Sankar Barman) throws the complex emotions of his intimate inner self to catch the essence of poetry. His poetry not only made of simple words, which goes away through the moment’s lack of awareness. No, they remain to make a large haul of the tiny fishes of dreams and emotions, and ultimately it is a big catch of significant poetry,” writes eminent Indian poet and literary critic Sitakant Mahapatra. Bijoy Sankar is a poet, who makes us meet our enfeebled existence in the vast arena of life, Mahapatra further says.

He has also received accolades from Estonian writer and artist Mathura (Margus Lattik). “A strong bond with heritage and tradition is what characterizes Barman’s poetry…” writes Mathura.

Barman, who received Sahitya Akademi Yuba Puraskar in 2013 for his collection of poems entitled Ashokastami, has three other critically acclaimed poetry books—Deo, Barnamukti and Moi Maatir Nabhit Kaan Thoi Xuniso— to his credit.  His poems have been translated into Italian, French, Spanish, and Estonian besides English and some Indian languages.  

Published by New Delhi-based publishing house Halfcrow, Tug at the Gillnet is available on the e-commerce platform Amazon.

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Mahesh Deka

Mahesh Deka is Senior Copy Editor of Northeast Now. He can be reached at: maheshdk3@gmail.com