Poetry can be defined in a thousand ways, and yet its essence will continue to elude us. A poem might be someone's imagination reflecting on a streetlight, an escape from emotion for another, or perhaps, a parenthetical take on reality for yet someone else. But poetry can also be penned on the canvas of life in a lucent manner. Witness the verse of Lutfun Nahar Anam, a social worker and physician's collections of verse (Je Ful Kotha koy) and folk literature (Banglar Lokoj Shahitto) brought within one cover in Je Ful Kotha Koy O Banglar Lokoj Shahitto by Kaler Dhoni Publications earlier this year. The attractive book cover, I should add at this point, is by Mostafiz Karigar.
Lutfun Nahar Anam was born in Sherpur, Mymensingh in 1945. Growing up in a conservative household, or marriage to Ahmed Mansur Anam, son of the popular journalist, politician and literary figure, Abul Mansur Ahmed, did not prevent her from pursuing education or poetry. Je Ful Kothakoy O Banglar Lokoj Shahitto thus reveals her love of poetry as well as her interest in our folk literature.
Anam's is a fascinating work. The first part, Je Ful Kotha Koy reveals her metamorphosis over time as she reflects on life, and nature, on youth and growing up. In them we come across her dreams, hopes, desires and beliefs and even her spiritual yearnings. All through her poems we feel her humane impulses. She deploys in her verse images from nature as well as everyday life.
Banglar Lokoj Shahitto the second part of the book, collects rhymes and riddles from rural life. Lutfun Anam has diligently collected in it rhymes based on every letter of the Bengali alphabet and ingenious riddles too. These verses will surely appeal to children as well as adults and will no doubt lure them all toward earlier modes of learning—modes that are a far cry from current ways in which they educate themselves.
Charismatic poet and avid collector of folk literature that she is, Anam has given readers in Je Ful Kotha Koy O Banglar Lokojshahitto a book of considerable charm and enduring appeal!
The reviewer is a student at BRAC University.