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Nilim Kumar
(India, 1961)   
 
 
 
Nilim Kumar

Nilim Kumar is the author of seventeen volumes of poetry and three novels in Assamese. Translated into several languages (including English, French, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi and Nepali), his poetry has won various accolades, including the Uday Bharati National Award, the Raza Foundation Award and the Shabda Award. He has participated in a number of national and international literary festivals.

There is a clear-sightedness about Nilim Kumar's poetic gaze. Gentle, spare, mild-mannered, apparently unencumbered by the need to have things mean any more than they do, these poems have the ability to record without editorializing, to observe without underscoring, to state without inflecting. At the same time, a dark humour and unobtrusive artistry lurk behind these casual, almost deadpan utterances.
 
'Door of Words' is a case in point. A "simple door" that allows a cat to enter and a woman to follow suit, ends up being a far more subtle metaphor than one initially realizes:
 
The door is ajar  
This is not the one
 that was referred to in
 "My door will remain forever open for you"  
 
Until the end one is left mulling over the many implications of that line.
 
Again in 'Ruby Gupta', the tone is so deceptively comic and poker-faced – "Ruby Gupta's underwear had  not  dried  out/ on  the  day  the  Jallianwala  Bagh  massacre  took  place" – that it takes time to realize that the poem is far from ingenuous. With subtle switches of tense and quiet turns of phrase, the mood of the poem turns suddenly dark, invoking the pathos, impotence and diminution of the individual in a vast, catastrophic universe more effectively than any obvious social critique or lament.   
 
Nilim Kumar's poems are oddly haunting, and far more sophisticated than their surfaces suggest. There are moments of sudden insight in throwaway lines, and insights more penetrating than one might initially suppose. This is poetry that speaks the language of curves rather than angles, of suggestion rather than statement.
 
'The Curve', for instance, reminds one that one is in the presence of a particularly nimble practitioner of the poetic art. "All the beautiful/ and dangerous curves of this world/ return us to our homes", says the poet, and in a single moment, a seemingly simple piece of verse swerves into a statement about the nature of beauty and truth, danger and sanctuary.

© Arundhathi Subramaniam

Bibliography

Poetry
Aachinaar Ashukh, L.H. S. Begum, 1985
Barikonwar, Angshumaan, Guwahati, 1990
Panit Dhou Dhoubor Mach, Lawyers Book Stall, Guwahati, 1990
Swapnar Relgaari, Students Store, Guwahati, 1992
Seluoi Godhuli, Students Stores, Guwahati, 1993             
Topanir Bagicha, Banalata, Guwahati, 1996
Dhunia Tirotabor Aur Anya Kabita, Banalata, Guwahati, 2000
Kailoir para Apunak Bhalpam, Banalata, Guwahati, 2001
Nilim Kumar Premar Kavita, Banalata, Guwahati,2001
Moi Tumalukar Kavi, Anweshan, Guwahati, 2002
Jonak Valpoaa Tirotaajani, Banalata, Guwahati, 2002
Kabita Samagra – 1 , Seuji- Seuji, Nalbari, 2003
Amar Akashat Charijoni Join, Banalata Guwahati, 2004
Nimakh Aaru Ekoishtaa  Kabita, L.B.S., Guwahati, 2004
Narakashur, Banalata, Guwahati, 2005
Atmagatha, Katha, Guwahati, 2007 

Links
Kabita, Blogspot, Kavitayan: More poems by Nilim Kumar.
Muse India, Literophile and The Telegraph: Essays and reviews on Nilim Kumar's poetry.

 



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