The Mahbubul Haq Shakil Award 2017 was introduced in December last year to commemorate the life and works of the poet. It also aims at encouraging young poets to go on writing poetry against all odds.
In its maiden year, young poet Russel Raihan was awarded the prize for his poetry collection Bibroto Moyur
. Held at the Abdul Karim Sahitya Bisharad auditorium of Bangla Academy on December 20, 2017, the award-giving ceremony coincided with Shakil’s 49th birth anniversary. Shakil, also former special assistant to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, breathed his last on December 6, 2016 following a sudden cardiac arrest; he was only 47.
Presided over by Emeritus Professor Anisuzzaman, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhit was the chief guest and Convener of Mahbubul Haque Shakil Sangshad Poet Habibullah Siraji delivered the welcome speech at the ceremony. A number of poets and political activists also spoke on the occasion.
The speakers reminisced about Shakil and his contribution to the growth of Bengali literature, especially Bengali poetry. In addition to being an accomplished poet, they stressed, Shakil was a formidable leader during the anti-autocracy movement in the 1980s, led by students and ordinary people.
Describing Shakil’s persona, Muhith said, “Today is a day of festivity, not a day of mourning. I knew Shakil since 1986. I met him after the CRI [Centre for Research and Information] was established and started sharing my work with him. He was my assistant.” Underscoring his ability to organise people and empathise with their problems, the minister added, “Shakil had the quality of presenting difficult issues with ease. I have met very few people as well-organised as he was. I knew Shakil as a brilliant politician.”
Professor Anisuzzaman highlighted his gift for poetry writing and storytelling. “He started writing stories alongside poems, but breathed his last before he could publish his story collection. I strongly believe he could have contributed a lot more to Bangla literature.”
A number of poets recited Shakil’s poetry and also their own, written in tribute to him. A documentary was also shown, highlighting many aspects of his life.
Shakil’s father Mymensingh District Awami League President Zahirul Haque Khoka, Shakil’s wife lawyer Nilufar Anjum Poppy, Prime Minister’s Deputy Press Secretary Ashraful Alam Khokan, poet Aslam Sunny, journalist Prabhas Amin and former BCL president HM Badiuzzaman Sohag, among others, spoke at the ceremony.
Shakil published three collections of poetry: Kherokhatar Pata Theke
, Mon Kharaper Gari
, and Jole Khuji Dhatob Mudra
. A collection of his short stories, Fera Na Ferar Golpo
, was published posthumously.