Friday, February 16, 2007

In Conversation with Razia Khan Amin

Ahmede: You have started writing at an early age; what prompted you to write?

Razia Khan Amin: Inner Image.

Ahmede: You have not published a novel or a collection of poems for a long while, why is it so?

Razia Khan Amin: The 1st volume of my complete works came out in 1905 with six novels. I am not in touch with publishers.

Ahmede: As one of the forerunners of English writing in Bangladesh will you share your observations of the country's current English writing scene with us?

Razia Khan Amin: Lita Samad, Rumana Siddique write well. I like the expository prose of Dr Serajul Islam Chowdhury. Dr Fakhrul Alam's English translations of Jibonando are adroit. Freedom Fighter Habibul Alam's English book on the Liberation War have a racy, lucid style.

Ahmede: We know that once people of this land fought valiantly to uphold their right to language, but at the same time because most of the citizens do not know how to read and write Bengali as a language like such other languages is fighting, what many believe, a losing battle. You write in both English and Bengali, how do you see the role of English in Bangladesh?

Razia Khan Amin: English will one day play a role similar to that of India. Once we overcome our complexes, we will give it its rightful place as an international language. Our battle with illiteracy is not lost, nor our effort to establish the value of the mother tongue.

Ahmede: Are you working on a new project now?

Razia Khan Amin: I am shaping and giving last touches to the 3rd segment of a trilogy. The first two have been published Protichitro (Mirrored Image), Chitrokabbo (Portrait and Poetry). This one is called Uposhanghar (Epilogue). So far my publishers have not behaved well, cheating me right and left. I need an honest, judicious publisher.

Ahmede: Do you believe Bangladeshi English language poetry still has a long way to go, and if so, what are the reasons behind it?

Razia Khan Amin: Those who write well, do it instinctively. Those who write because they are sought after turn wooden. Their work is not poetry. Compared to Indo Anglican poets our output is meagre because editors and publishers do not seek out the right people. The late S.N. Hashim wrote some outstanding English poems which have not come out. English dailies and magazines must focus writers who have a flare for English and who write with imagination. Nadeem Rahman, a good poet should be seen in magazines. I wrote a meticulous critique on his achievements which came out in The Star, years ago. But when he politicizes his work it turns wooden. Many established Bengali poets with the exception of Shamsur Rahman and Al Mahmud have also lost their lustre. Spontaneity, feeling for poetry and its rhythm are important. The music in poetry has to be heard and then transmitted into words.