1/13/07

A poetry of serene mathematical beauty



Binoy Majumdar (1934-2006), an Indian poet (Bengali), recently passed away. Binoy was a brilliant, eccentric, obscure and controversial poet whose life and work await chapters of penetrating research. Binoy is an extremely rare poet – it is hard to find a parallel in the western hemisphere. The intense purity with which geometry, mathematics, science and logistics fill the bone-marrow of his poetry, marks his rare genre. Despite being a fine and talented engineer, a brilliant, innovative mathematician and an even more brilliant poet, Binoy led a rather distraught and disoriented life of extreme poverty. Failed by one-sided love [for Gayatri Chakraborty (later Spivak)], he lost his mental composure and attempted suicide several times in his life. At times, he would turn violently schizophrenic. In the 1990s, the state government of West Bengal, upon request from fellow poets, provided some support. It didn't restore his physical and mental health. However, during his stay at the state-run hospital, he wrote a book -"haaspaataale lekhaa kabitaaguchchha' (Hospital Poems) which won him the prestigious national poetry award (Sahitya Academy Purashhkaar). Today, Binoy has a huge following among poets three or four decades younger.
Here is an introductory link. Please read –
http://www.kaurab.com/poetry_peripherals/binoy.html

Aryanil

12 comments:

mIEKAL aND said...

Are any of the Hospital poems available online in English?

Subir said...

First of all I would like to thank you for your honest effort of depicting the life of one of my favourite poets. Aryanil, I personally feel that this sort of exchange in International arena is necessary, especially when the whole world is brought to our drawing room through Internet.
Personally I always felt that many a good poems, written in rigional languages of different poets should have been translated in English for the right and sensational evaluation as well. As you know, the poems of Sukumar Roy, if were translated in English in time, the story would have been different. Later on, though, his son Satyajit Roy, did the job, but it was too late. Even for Binoy Majumder, I feel it's late enough. He was (the word "was" itself explains, how painful it is) a Genious and discussions/researches on his poems in Bengal was on and on, while the poet, for the last 2/3 decades, was not in position to understand what was happening under his nose. At last I like to believe that "Better late than never", in true sense, will change the scenario, and this humble genious will get the right reward aganist his honest labour.

Thank you, once again.

(Subir Bose)

Murat said...

Aryanil,

I just read a few of the poems. They are fantastic. They remind me of some of the modern Turkish poetry, which, to my mind, is not surprising.

Ciao,

Murat

Aryanil said...

miekal

"Hospital Poems" is a relatively newer book. It hasn't been translated yet. I'll try to excite folks to get some quick and dirty stuff for the page. And thanks a lot for your interest.

Aryanil

Aryanil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Murat said...

Aryanil,

I am very pleased that your are reading Eda and thinking of writing a piece on Turkish poetry.

Very interesting and gratifying to me that you focus on Sami Baydar. For some critics in Turkey, the inclusion of Sami Baydar, to the exclusion of a few other poets, is an unforgivable sin in Eda anthology.

Of course, I do not agree. I think Baydar is a mysterious, unforgettabl;e poet. For years I am trying to understand how he puts a poem together.

Ciao,

Murat

marco said...

There's a lot of work to do in Italy, in order to make all of these poets known and attentively studied. Thanks for the hints and suggestions. I wish Italian readers could frequently visit IEPI and the linked sites.

Aryanil said...

Some of Binoy's earlier poetry (a few poems only) has been already translated. Here is a list of what is out there -

Bibliography:

Banerjee, Ron D. K. trans. and ed. Poetry From Bengal: The Delta Rising :
An anthology of Modern Bengali poetry. London and Boston, Forest
Books/Unesco, 1989. Includes "8th March 1960" and "16th June 1961" by Binay
Mazumdar, pp. 128-129.

Dharwadker, Vinay, and Ramanujan, A. K. eds. The Oxford Anthology of Modern
Indian Poetry. Dehli, Oxford University Press, 1994. Includes "Time Wins" by
Benoy Majumdar, tr. Jyotirmoy Datta p. 72, and a brief biographical note on
Binoy Majumdar p. 235.

Majumdar, Benoy. Seven Poems by Benoy Mojumdar, tr. Jyotirmoy Datta. Hudson
Review v. 21 n. 4 (Winter 1968-1969), pp. 648-650.

Majumdar, Benoy. "Had She Stopped to Look Back', tr. Jyotirmoy Datta. Malahat
Review, n. 13-16 p. 110.

Aryanil said...

Murat

Thanks for your comments. Binoy also made fundamental contributions to several mathematical corollaries. In the early nineties, at some point we were afraid that he might gone earlier. But he recovered miraculously. BTW, I have been reading EDA and preparing myself to write an article on contemporary Turkish poetry based on your book. Just last month an article (by Zahirul Hasan) appeared in the same Bengali poetry monthly on Turkish poetry after Hikmet. I'm reading your book. I am beginning to immensely enjoy Sami Baydar's poetry. I think I might focus on his work and try to translate some of his poems in Bengali. Will need your help very soon.

Atlas said...

dear aryanil,

i edit ATLAS and would like to publish some of Binoy Majumdar's poems. let me know how i can access them. have you translated any yourself into english?

sudeep (sen)
www.sudeepsen.net
atlasaarkarts@gmail.com

Kaz Maslanka said...

His poems are wonderful I can't imagine how much better they were in his native tongue.

SARMISTHA BISWAS said...

Binoy Majumer has used mathematical concepts in his poetry. Legacy is, usually poets avoid mathematics; and therefore, he was not properly understood by the Begali poets and Binoy was not most popular one, though exceptional. During last few years Professor Narayan Ch Ghosh, mathematician, has analysed his poems from mathematical stand point. He has written number of articles in different journals. Those extra-ordinary writings have opened a new window for assessment of Binoy from different point. Now revaluation has started.
Professor has written article on phire esho, chaka contradicting the concept 'a funny truncation of Gayatri’s surname'. Analysing the then social conditions Ghosh says Chaka pragatir pratik (Wheel is symbol of progress) which Binoy called to come back to steer social movement for progress. According to Binoy all progress is manifestation of extreme love.