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Assamese Poet Pens Verse in Urdu

From writing fiction in English to poetry on love and death in Urdu, Assamese author Rohan Gogoi has been busy crossing linguistic and literary boundaries.

And now Gogoi, who describes himself as the first Urdu poet from the northeastern state, is focusing on his new project – a book of verse in Urdu on Buddhism.

The 40-year-old poet said the warm reception to his debut collection of ‘shayari’ or Urdu poetry, which dealt with issues such as nature and nostalgia, prompted him to start work on his new project.

“Language is not for one particular religion. That is why I am trying to experiment with Buddhism in my next collection of Urdu poems,” Gogoi said. After ‘Rahgeer-e-Rehguzar’, published in January this year, he is working on his new book of verse in Urdu on the Buddha’s life and philosophy, dealing with aspects as varied as childhood, rebellion, greed, love, sympathy, patience and compassion.

“I am trying to bring out the different facets of Buddhist philosophy through Urdu shayari’, he said, adding that he hopes to release the book by the year-end or early 2019.

The author of the novel ‘Chasing Maya’ said it was while he was writing his second book of fiction, called The Flying Yogi’, that he discovered he could pen poetry in Urdu.
In the book, the central character from UP goes to Shillong as a writer of Urdu verse. Gogoi, who has penned scores of unpublished English poems, decided to translate his own verse into Urdu for the novel.
“I completed 56 nazms or ghazals, translated from my English poems as well as new writings. I chose 40 of them and published ‘Rahgeer-e-Rehguzar’, he said, adding that the book had been widely read in western India and was on the bestsellers’ list for two months at the Crossword bookstores in Pune.

Born and raised in Assam’s Nagaon, he is now settled in Pune and works in the communications division of a multinational power management company.

Gogoi, who writes his verse in Devnagri, has not formally learnt Urdu. He picked up the language by listening to old Hindi songs, and by consulting a dictionary every time he wanted a word to be explained.

“Sahir Ludhianvi has influenced me the most. I was astonished listening to his Hindi film songs during my childhood and used to wonder at how lyrical his thoughts were. Kaifi Azmi also inspired me a lot, he said. Though many believe that shayari is mostly romantic, Gogoi said he wanted to experiment with other dimensions of people’s lives.

“Poetry has romance but romance alone is not poetry. I want to write on religion, spiritualism, culture, social issues, minimalism, small town life and the Hindi heartland’s approach to the North East among others,” he added.

About the author

Ankur Kalita