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Bengal Lights 2017

  • Published at 01:31 am January 6th, 2018
  • Last updated at 04:53 pm January 24th, 2018
Bengal Lights 2017
The 2017 issue of Bengal Lights is a multifaceted one. It features poetry, fiction, non-fiction and artworks from prominent poets and writers around the world. There are 26 poems, nine fiction and eight non-fiction pieces and 12 artworks. Edited by Khademul Islam, the issue is a glorious example of an aesthetically pleasing literary magazine offering a brilliant collection of pieces. The cover artwork by Dilara Begum looks amazingly surreal: Birds in a myriad of colours diving rampantly on a bullet-strewn ground swathed with clotted blood. In “Back Home Again,” the first non-fiction piece, Sadaf Saaz invites readers into a sprawling account of her experience with Chittagonian culture in the 1980s after returning from Cambridge, UK. From load-shedding to dialects spoken by local girls, it’s a personal record of a lost time, which she limns poetically. K Anis Ahmed’s “The eviction” is an excerpt from a work-in-progress. It fascinatingly explores a father/son relationship troubled by economic hardship that forces the family to be evicted from a rented house.
The breadth of mediums makes the current issue a distinct one. It is peppered with ebullient bursts of creative artistry that set readers’ mind whirring. If you pick up a copy, it is most likely that you'll finish it in one go.
“Supreme Male with Lion Jaws” by Khademul Islam is a wonderful piece of reportage of the writer's stay in Cambodia, a country that, like its other Asian neighbours, saw a long colonial rule. Observations like “French colonial rule had been as rabidly merciless as all the others and yet the Frenchiness in their old colonies seem at ease with the former subjects in a way vastly different than the Brits and us” draws the rapt attention of readers. “A Different Voice in a Different Home,” a story by Akhteruzzaman Elias in Rifat Munim’s translation, is also a compelling read. Elias’s uncanny ability to spin a magical plot – which is not necessarily magic realism – takes readers to a different realm of literary inquiry. In “Lord Clive Debagged: An Alternative Biography,” Kaiser Haq highlights many unknown threads of Robert Clive’s life. The British privateer, who established the military and political supremacy of the East India Company in Bengal, was “diagnosed with acute phimosis [the inability to retract the skin covering the head of the penis] by Dr John Rae, the company’s civil surgeon,” though it didn’t bar him from campaigning “cunning Orientalist principle” in India. While there are more fiction and non-fiction pieces to explore by Neeman Sobhan, Neal Durando, Nadia Kabir Barb, John Drew, AG Stock and Nadeem Zaman, among others, the poetry section has a lot to offer. An interesting feature of the poetry section is that poems by five Tibetan poets: Chen-metak, Dhi Lhaden, Chakmo Jam, Khawa Nyingchak and Bhuchung D Sonam, have been included in the issue. Lines such as “Life and death are dewdrops on morning grass” and “The Land of Snows is our land, and the flower-laden meadows are our home” take readers on a serene journey to snow-covered, mountainous Tibet; some of the verses pay tribute to conservationist Delek Rinpoche and countless other people who died in Chinese prisons for their environmental and secessionist movement. Other pieces of note are: “Salt Range” and “Terrace” by Adrian Hossain; “The Man Who Loved My Eyeballs” by Sadia Afreen; “Same All Over” and “Voila” by Rubana Haq, and “A Version of Ghazal” by John Drew. The breadth of mediums makes the current issue a distinct one. It is peppered with ebullient bursts of creative artistry that set readers’ mind whirring. If you pick up a copy, it is most likely that you'll finish it in one go.