GUWAHATI: Noted writer and former Jnanpith awardee Mamoni Raisom Goswami's prediction came true as Assam poet Nilmani Phookan has been chosen for the 56th Jnanpith Award. She predicted in 2001 that "The next Jnanpith holder from Assam will be a poet".
"Phukan has equally enhanced the intellectual field of Assam with equal etymology and expertise in all aspects of teaching, poetry, art and criticism. Congratulations to poet Phukandev. I wish him good health and long life," tweeted Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Nilamani Phookan became the third person in the state to receive this honour after Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya and Mamoni Raisom Goswami.
Born in Dergaon in the Golaghat district, Phookan did his Master's in History from Gauhati University in 1961.
Jnanpith is a literary award presented by the Bharatiya Jnanpith organization to an Indian writer every year. This was instituted in 1961 and is given only to Indian writers who write in Indian languages and English.
Due to this early exposure and his artistic response to the language, Phookan had developed a deep interest in the rich folk culture and the native swings of life. He is one of Assam's leading art experts and conscious critics of tribal and folk art.
He was awarded the 1981 Sahitya Akademi Award in Assamese for his poetry collection, Kavita (Kobita). He was also awarded the Padma Shri. He received the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, the highest literary honour in India, given by Sahitya Akademi in 2002.
Phookan's work is mostly inspired by French symbolism and he is a representative of the genre in Assamese poetry. His notable works include Surya Henu Nami Ahe Ei Nodiyedi, Gulapi Jamur Lagna, and Kobita. He has also translated Japanese and European poetry into Assamese.