Nilmani Phookan (1933-2023): Life and Times

Phookan’s career started as lecturer in 1964 at Arya Vidyapeeth College.
Nilmani Phookan
Nilmani Phookan

Born on September 10 in 1933 in Assam’s Dergaon, Nilmani Phookan was a celebrated poet of the state.

He got his Master’s degree in the subject of History from Gauhati University in the 1961.

Phookan’s career started as lecturer in 1964 at Arya Vidyapeeth College and worked until his retirement in 1992.

He made huge contributions in the field of literature and his work, replete with symbolism, was inspired by French symbolism and a representative of the genre in Assamese poetry.

Nilmani Phookan was the third recipient of India’s highest literary award, Jnanpith Award, after Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya and Mamoni Raisom Goswami.

The ‘Jnanpith Award’ was conferred to him by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during a function at Rabindra Bhawan in Guwahati on April 11, 2022 for his lifetime contribution in lietrature.

He was also conferred with several other awards:

  • Sahitya Akademi Award for his poetry collection ‘Kavita’ (Kobita) in 1981.

  • Padma Shri in 1990

  • Sahitya Akademi Fellowship in 2002

  • Assam Valley Literary Award 1997

Some of his noted works include:

  • Surya Heno Nami Ahe Ei Nadiyedi (1963)

  • Manas-Pratima (1971)

  • Phuli Thaka Suryamukhi Phultor Phale (1971)

  • Kabita (2001)

  • Gulapi Jamur Lagna

The noted and celebrated poet passed away on January 19 at 11.55 am at Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH).

He was diagnosed with septic shock infection and was administered with antibiotics.

He was admitted at Sanjeevani Hospital under critical condition and later shifted to GMCH for advance treatment.

CM Himanta Biswa Sarma paid tributes to the poet and said ‘one of the brightest stars who blessed the society of Assam with his literary creation.’

“His death is an irreparable loss to Assam and the Assamese national identity. I wish him eternal peace and extend my deepest condolences to the bereaved families. The funeral will be held with full state dignity,” he added.

The death of Nilmani Phookan is huge loss for the literary society of the state.

Nilmani Phookan
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