Interview of Shakil Kalam

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Shakil Kalam

Do you remember writing your first words of poetry? When was it? Please tell us more about it. Writing the first poem is still shinning in my memory. At that time, I just read Level Six. I used to read a lot of leftist writers from my childhood. I used to read the writings of Khalil Jibran, Nazim Hikmat, Naguib Mahfuz, Karl Marx, Lev Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Mao Zedong at our school and public librry. Then I thought to myself, if they can write, then why can’t I! Stubbornness was created in the mind. I thought all night. I could not sleep at all. The next day I wrote a poem.

I ran to my teacher, poet, journalist and leftist leader Mirza Abdul Hai with the poem. He was surprised to hear that I wrote poetry. Then I gave the poem to him. He read the poem carefully and made some corrections. As well as he also gave some advice on writing poetry. He then handed the poem to me and asked me to write it beautifully and send it to the “Daily Sangbad”. I wrote it down as usual and sent it. It turned out that my poem was published in the newspaper in the following week. From that time to till today I have been writing poems.

Did you have any early influences/inspirations? During my childhood, most of the families in our country were lower middle class. ln such a family, there had a very little scope to think about art, literature and culture. My family is not out of such thoughts. However, I did not get much support from anyone except my mother from my family. You can say, my strong will has brought me to this stage now. However, I have to remember the contribution and caring of my literary teacher late Mirza Abdul Hyee. He was the nucleolus of my inspiration.

What/who started you writing poetry? At first, I started writing poetry. But after writing poetry for some days, I didn’t feel comfort with poetry. So that, I have left writing poetry. Then I have started writing rhymes, adolescent-poems and stories for children. In this case, I got enough response in it. The children accepted my writings. I have gotten familiarity as a Child-Litterateur by writing for children. I have written two rhyme books, eight story books, two collection of story and edited three story books for children.
But the Corona epidemic opened the door for me to write poetry again. Different events in different countries of the turbulent world created emotion within me. The Covid-19 pandemic created an opportunity for writing poetry again for me. Till today, I have published three poetry books and have another one poetry book which is collaborated with Indian eminent poet Shakil Ahmed. Now I am writing poetry regularly.

Does your background/heritage influence your writing? Please explain. Yes. You rightly told it. In fact, I am a nature lover man. The evergreen and riverine Bangladesh, the dancing of white fairies in the south wind of Catkin on the banks of the river, the songs of boatman, various color flowers, scenic beauty of six seasons, the aubades of different colors birds, the field of green and golden paddy and the yellow mustard field on the horizon make me interested in writing. Moreover various inconsistencies, inequalities, disillusion, hypocrisy, human suffering and the degradation of human moral and social values, the Liberation War of Bangladesh also brought diversity in my writings. In a word, you can be said Liberation War and social issues have been highlighted in my write-ups.
But in recent times, new dimensions have come in my writings. In my scathing writings, politics, economics, cultural aggression, socio-economic class discrimination, social values, scarcity of democratic values and culture, lack of democratic governance and deficiency of institutionalization of democracy vigorously highlighted. Moreover, spirituality have come massively to the foreside as well. As a whole you can say, the natural beauty of my country, our liberation war and spirituality influences my writings.

What subjects mostly inspires you to write? Why? I was born in a remote area as it was full of natural resources. I have always loved the nature, environment and creature. This love makes glowing me about reading books. While I exploref the mines of nature, I became devoted to books of “Tarashankar Bandopadhyay”. He is the classical story writer and novelist of Bengali literature. You can say, Tarashankar’s eloquent depiction of nature makes me fond of writing.

We have gained our country’s Independence with a bloodshed struggle; it reflected on my mind very deeply included invadors’ forcece terrible, fierce torture and killing. So the liberation war of Bangladesh is also the biggest inspiration of my writing.

In my childhood, the rural population of our country was extremely poor. On the other hand, most of the people in the city were developed and wealthy.  During my early life, I have seen a large scale economic inequality between urban and rural people. When I have established a deeply relationship with my writing teacher the late leftist public leader and journalist Mirza Abdul Hai, I have inspired by the socialist ideology. You can say, the socialist ideology was inspired me to hold the pen for the common man.

Do you remember your first ever published work? Where, what was it? When? Tell me how you felt seeing your words in print. Yes, I remembered it. It is still dazzling in my memory. My first published writing was poetry. As I described it before, my poem was published in “The Daily Sangbad”. I never thought my first writings would be published in a national daily. I was surprised to see my poem as printed in the newspaper. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I had cried with joy.

What publication are you most proud to have your works published in, why? I have published 33 books. I am feeling proud of my books on children story book “Golden Crown”, poetry book “Essence of Love”, and books on corporate governance and financial institutions A Handbook of Corporate Governance in Bangladesh and Comprehensive Articles on Financial Sectors in Bangladesh. Because, the books have gained the honor of widely selling. Moreover, my professional books are listed as reference books and taught in public and private universities of the country.

Do you have a favourite genre of poetry? Why? Tell me more about it. I am the poet of the masses. Poet of rebellion. I want a balanced distribution of world resources. I want to the right to freedom of movement around the world. I believe in equality between men and women. I never believe establishment of control, oppression, deprivation of rights over women by men. I want to establish women’s rights over property.

What are your future plans as a writer/poet? I want to establish a harmonious social system by making the common people aware through creative writing.

What projects are you working on and why? I am working on a collection of poems of foreign poets which are translated by me. I want to make a bridge or connectivity with different literature and culture around the world.

A phrase that you like and inspired you. There is nothing above human beings. Man is the greatest creature of creation.