Monday, July 15, 2024

Eminent Assamese writer and Jnanpith awardee Nilmani Phookan dies at 90

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Jnanpith awardee and eminent Assamese litterateur Nilmani Phookan died here on Thursday following prolonged old-age-related problems, hospital sources said.

He was 90. Phookan is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

The eminent litterateur was admitted to a local hospital on Wednesday after he complained of breathing difficulties from where he was shifted to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital later.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has expressed his deep grief at the death of the eminent poet.

”Kavya Rishi Nilmani Phookan was among the foremost of the bright literary stars who have enriched Assamese literature and his contribution will always be remembered”, the CM said in a statement.

His death has led to a loss that will be difficult to fill, Sarma said and extended his deepest condolences to the bereaved family. The chief minister said that Phookan’s last rites will be conducted with full state honour.

Phookan received the Jnanpith award for the year 2021 for his overall contribution to the field of literature.

He is the third recipient of the Jnanpith award in Assam after Birendranath Bhattacharya and Mamoni (Indira) Raisom Goswami.

He received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1981 for his book of poems ‘Kobita’, the Padma Shri in 1990 and the Sahitya Akademi fellowship in 2002.

A retired college professor, he was also awarded the D. Litt by Dibrugarh University in 2019.

Author of several collections of poetry, his principal works, include among others ‘Phuli Thoka Suryamukhi Phulor Phale’ (To a Sunflower in bloom), ‘Golapi Jamur Lagna’ (The Raspberry Moment), ‘Kobita’ (Poems), ‘Nrityarata Prithivi’ (Dancing Earth).

Phookan, bestowed with the title of ‘Kavya Rishi’, was born and brought up in the Upper Assam town Dergaon with nature, art and Indian classical music exerting a profound influence on the poet.

Art, particularly, was very close to the poet’s heart and mind, which led him to study in detail the ancient and modern art forms of the state along with introducing people in Assam to the varied nuances of Indian and western art forms.

He was an art critic of repute who closely followed the works of artists in the state and encouraged them to experiment with different art forms.

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