Bangladesh ambassador, scholars remember prominent poet?s work

Aston Tan

The third annual Kazi Nazrul Islam lecture was underway, Wednesday, Oct. 29.

‘The primary purpose of the lecture is to bring awareness of Bengali art, literature and culture to the West,’ said Dr. Phyllis Herman, Chair of the Department of Religious studies, who also moderated the event.

The ambassador chosen for this mission was Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, a national poet of Bangladesh who died in 1976, and much of the lecture revolved around his achievements.

‘He was the spokesman for freedom, independence from India’hellip; (and) pro-women’s rights,’ said Herman.

Held in the Thousand Oaks Room at the USU, the lecture also featured scholar, Dr. Qazi Uddin and author, Dr. Masihur Rahmin, in addition to Humayun Kabir, Ambassador of Bangladesh to the U.S. and Bangladeshi Consul General, Abu Zafar. They all spoke about the Bengali poet’s contribution to society.

‘What Nazrul taught us many years back has great relevance today,’ said Kabir, drawing parallels with Nazrul’s teachings and the current world climate. He said the poet taught to ‘value and honor diversity that nourishes our present and our future.’

Zafar said the poet predicted the beginnings of extremism and terrorism, adding, ‘if you read and listen carefully’hellip; the central message of the Nazrul story can be superimposed on today.’

Uddin drew lines between romantic poet John Keats and Nazrul. Uddin described Nazrul as ‘a poet of all human beings ‘- a universal poet.’

Uddin went on to read several poems by Nazrul in his native language and in the English translation. Uddin stressed the poet’s call for equality within castes and between genders.

The lecture conveyed different messages to different people.

Political science major Lemuel Neal, 19, said, ‘the lecture was informative; it is interesting learning about other cultures.’

‘There are a lot of similarities in our culture,’ said Neal.

Child development major Elizabeth Zaragoza called the lecture inspiring.
‘The poet is very deep,’ said Zaragoza.

‘I actually didn’t know anything about Bangladesh before this lecture,’ she said.

Kazi Nazrul Islam, also known as the Rebel Poet, is regarded as the greatest Bengali poet after Rabindranath Tagore.’ Many of his songs and poems were banned by British colonial powers in pre-partition India.

The Kazi Nazrul Islam lecture has approximately $37,000 in endowment funds, said Herman.

She said funds were raised by contributions from the Bangladeshi community and is supported by the school, the Bangladeshi ambassador and Consul General.