Ilonggo ambassador Ausan invited as guest at historic Dhaka poetry festival

By Alex P. Vidal

“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”— William Wordsworth

PHILIPPINE Ambassador to Bangladesh, Atty. Leo Tito L. Ausan Jr., has been invited as guest poet in the 36th National Poetry Festival at Hakim Chattar adjacent to Dhaka University Central Library on February 1-2.

Ausan, an Ilonggo poet and former professor at the Central Philippine University (CPU) in Iloilo City, Philippines, will join with poets from Argentina, Nepal, Germany, Iraq, Philippines and other countries would participate in the festival.

His participation as “guest poet” was confirmed in an official invitation dated January 28, 2024 sent by Dr. Muhammad Samad, president

of Jatiya Kabita Parishad (National Poetry Council) of Bangladesh and secretary general Tarik Sujat.

Samad and Sujat assured to provide Ausan’s “local hospitality from 1st February to 2nd February 2024 in Bangladesh with humble effort.”

‘Jatiya Kabita Parishad’ disclosed the event’s information at a press conference held on the 2nd floor of the Teacher-Student Centre building of the university on January 28.

Reading a statement Sujat said, “We have continuously talked about dictatorship, communalism, fundamentalism, war crimes trial and the trial of Bangabandhu’s killers. Born from the spark of betrayal of poets, this festival has evolved from a national into an international festival. Poets of Bangladesh have always stood for progress.”

He added: “For almost three and a half decades, the struggling poets of different countries and languages of the world have spoken shoulder to shoulder with us about the liberation of people in this festival. We have managed to turn this festival into a gathering of poetry.”

Samad, who presided over the conference, highlighted the historical context of the National Poetry Festival saying, “It’s not possible for today’s generation to imagine how poetry originated in Dhaka University campus. However, we got support from people. Journalists, writers, and publishers all supported us.”

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More than 400 Bangladeshi poets and sixteen foreign poets were scheduled to participate in the event otherwise known as 36th Jatiya Kabita Utsab 2024.

Poet Nirmalendu Goon was scheduled to inaugurate the two-day festival, organized by Jatiya Kabita Parishad, at 10 o’clock am on February 1.

The event would feature recitations, songs, seminars, discussions and others.

Poets Aslam Sunny, Dilara Hafiz and Shihab Sarkar, among others, spoke at the press conference.

‘More than 400 Bangladeshi poets will participate in the festival. Ten poets from five countries will attend the festival’s opening ceremony,’ said Muhammad Samad.

‘Six poets from four countries will join the festival virtually from Cairo International Book Fair at the closing day,’ he added.

This year’s festival has been dedicated to the late Asad Chowdhury, Mohammad Rafiq, Jahidul Haque, Bulbul Mahalanobish and Hanif Khan.

The name of the winner of Jatiya Kabita Parishad Puraskar will be announced at the closing ceremony.

The festival originally began in 1987 with a view to raising voices through poems against dictatorship and tyranny.

The festival will end on February 2.

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(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)

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