Can poetry change the society? Can a poet keep himself/herself aloof from ineluctable social and historical processes? This has perhaps been the most enduring debate about how a poet should respond to contemporary social, political issues. Whatever side you choose to be with, Bangladeshi poetry is unique in terms of always coming alive to burning issues of any given time. From Ahsan Habib and Shamsur Rahman to Abul Hasan to Rudro Mohammad Shahidullah to Taslima Nasrin, poets have remained faithful to the cause of humanity. The same is true about Kaiser Haq, our most celebrated English language poet. Though his verses are subtle, they have always addressed social issues, never compromising the artistic aspects.
But are things changing now? Is poetry failing to respond to many current issues such as elimination of indigenous peoples by Bengali settlers in the hill districts, or repression of minorities, or violation of garment workers' rights, or rise of militant forces in politics, culture and literature. In the July issue, we do not set out to find answers to these questions. However, we present readers with essays assessing the socially conscious strain of our literature and poems demonstrating our poets continue to be politically aware.
There are also an essay by Taslima Nasrin on Tahmima Anam's award-winning short story, a translation of a short story by Bibhutibhushon Bandyopadhyay, a nonfiction piece and a short fiction.
Literary Editor, Dhaka Tribune