7 Top Bangladeshi Poets You Need to Know

Across decades, Bangladeshi poets have inspired and entertained via their woven words. We present seven you need to know.

7 Top Bangladeshi Poets You Need to Know - F

"These poems have impressed me very greatly."

In the fascinating world of poetry, Bangladeshi poets shine as beacons of talent.

They are able to educate, raise awareness and captivate a diverse array of readers.

The themes in their texts encompass several things including feminism and economic repression.

Paying tribute to these wonderful artists, we invite you to a thrilling poetic odyssey.

DESIblitz showcases seven great Bangladeshi poets that you need to know.

Kazi Nazrul Islam

7 Top Bangladeshi Poets You Need to Know - Kazi Nazrul IslamBorn in 1899, Kazi Nazrul Islam is the National Poet of Bangladesh.

His staggering body of work includes a large amount of gripping poetry.

In his writing, he explores themes of equality, humanity and rebellion.

In a belief that was regarded revolutionary at the time, Nazrul Islam strongly advocated for feminism and female empowerment.

His poem ‘Naari’ suggests this. Some of the lines in the writing are:

“I don’t see any difference between a man and woman.”

“Whatever great or benevolent achievements that are in this world, half of that was by woman.

“The other half by man.”

The image of Nazrul Islam is also available on Indian and Pakistani postage stamps, proving his influence across the Indian subcontinent.

His work stands the test of time.

Kamini Roy

7 Top Bangladeshi Poets You Need to Know - Kamini RoyOne of the most famous Bangladeshi poets, Kamini Roy was also the first female honours graduate in British India.

Kamini was enamoured by feminism, which is visible in much of her work.

One of her noteworthy anthologies is ‘Alo O Chhaya’which comprises 61 poems.

Introducing the poetry, the renowned poetess Hem Chandra Banerjee wrote:

“These poems have impressed me very greatly; in places they are so very sweet and so full of deep thoughts that one’s heart is charmed directly one reads them.

“I have praised their authoress at heart when reading them myself.

“And to be candid, I have even envied her at times.”

In a Bengali essay, Kamini reflects on her thoughts about feminism:

“The male desire to rule is the primary, if not the only, stumbling block to women’s enlightenment.”

“They are extremely suspicious of women’s emancipation.

“Why? The same old fear – ‘Lest they become like us’.”

Al Mahmud

7 Top Bangladeshi Poets You Need to Know - Al MahmudBorn Mir Abdus Shukur Al Mahmud, this great writer is regarded as one of the greatest Bangladeshi poets of the 20th century.

His poems were often controversial, but are immersive and descriptive.

Some of his works are ‘Sonali Kabin’, ‘Lok-Lokantor’ and ‘Kaler Kolosh’.

Rifat Munim writes about the influence of Al Mahmud:

“No poet courted controversy as much as Al Mahmud had.”

“Yet he remained one of the most loved and towering figures in poetry in both Bangladesh and in West Bengal in India.

“The material he blended with this setting carried a combination that surprises many to this day.

“Modernist expressions with powerful imagery, sometimes robust and sometimes intellectual, raw emotions, a highly artistic form of standard Bengali imbued with carefully chosen words and phrases.

“And impeccable use of form in terms of metre and rhyme.”

The thoughts of Rifat describe the relevance of Al Mahmud.

Shaheed Quaderi

7 Top Bangladeshi Poets You Need to Know - Shaheed QuaderiIf there’s one writer who introduced urbanism and modernity to Bangladeshi poetry, it is Shaheed Quaderi.

At the tender ages of 11 and 14, he already had some poetry published.

His poems include ‘Uttoradhikar’, ‘Tomake Obhibadon Priyotoma’, and ‘Kothao Kono Krondon Nei’.

Shaheed’s poetry melds patriotism, universalism, and cosmopolitanism to create riveting works of the written word.

Compared to other poets, Shaheed published just three poetry books.

Shaheed opines: “There is no need to produce extensively because quantity is detrimental to the quality of poetry.”

For his work, Shaheed won the Bangla Academy Literary Award in 1973.

He was also awarded the Ekushey Padak in 2011. It is the second-highest civilian award in Bangladesh.

These accomplishments show what a great poet Shaheed Quaderi is.

Sufia Kamal

7 Top Bangladeshi Poets You Need to Know - Sufia KamalA leader of feminism, Sufia Kamal has carved a niche for herself in the realm of Bangladeshi poetry.

Meeting Mahatma Gandhi inspired her to adopt simple clothing.

In 1938, she released her first collection of poems, which was titled ‘Sanjher Maya’

The anthology has a foreword by Kazi Nazrul Islam and was praised by the legendary writer Rabindranath Tagore.

Similar to the aforementioned Shaheed Quaderi, Sufia is also a recipient of the Ekushey Padak.

In 1962, she was awarded the Bangla Academy Literary Award.

The writer Maleka Begum cites Sufia as her inspiration:

“Sufia Kamal has had significant influence in my life.”

This great woman is my inspiration in whatever I do.

“She encouraged in so much of my endeavours.”

Motiur Rahman Mollik

7 Top Bangladeshi Poets You Need to Know - Motiur Rahman MollikRegarded as the ‘poet of renaissance’, Motiur Rahman Mollik found his footing as a poet in the 1980s.

He has four surviving poetry books. These are:

  • ‘Abortito Trinolota’
  • ‘Rongin Megher Palki’
  • ‘Onoboroto Brikhkher Gaan’
  • ‘Nishonno Nirer Pakh’

He also worked for monthly magazines and the daily newspaper, Shongram.

His appreciation for the rites of life can be summarised in his words:

“This world isn’t my true address. All the glitters of life will be wiped off. By death.”

Following his death in 2010, a tribute to him notes his contribution towards others:

“The years of relentless and insistent pressure on himself had finally taken a toll on his health.

“He was not neglectful to himself but he always prioritised the needs of others above his own requirements.”

Motiur Rahman Mollik leaves behind an everlasting body of work.

Shamim Azad

7 Top Bangladeshi Poets You Need to Know - Shamim AzadA bilingual poet, Shamim Azad has written poetry in both English and Bengali.

Some of her Bengali poetry collections include ‘Valobashar Kobita’, ‘Om’and ‘Shamim Azader Prem Opremer 100 Kobita’.

Meanwhile, her works in English include ‘British South Asian Poetry’, ‘My Birth Was Not In Vain’, and ‘The Majestic Night’.

Shamim has also performed at a variety of global venues.

Delving into her fascination for the East End of London, Shamim explains:

“This place is an amazing place to live. It has so much history.

“The truth I figured out is that the East End is the melting pot for so many migrants and immigrants.

“As a language teacher, I believe when you have something in your life that’s very precious, you don’t let go.”

In 2023, Shamim Azad won the Bangla Academy Literary Award.

She is a storyteller of gravitas and complexity.

Bangladeshi poets have the talent and the voices to convey their thoughts through mystical, magnifying ways.

Their work is a mosaic of hard-hitting, essential themes.

They continue to inspire readers and newer writers with their art and the results are long-lasting.

So, as you go through this list, be prepared to embrace all that Bangladeshi poets have to offer.

Manav is our content editor and writer who has a special focus on entertainment and arts. His passion is helping others, with interests in driving, cooking, and the gym. His motto is: “Never hang on to your sorrows. Always be positive."

Images courtesy of IMDB, Medium, Prothom Alo English, YouTube, and X.

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