|Hopefully the Pomegranate
Syed Najmuddin Hashim
edited by Niaz Zaman
ISBN 984 8715 13 4 2007 126pp 215x136mm HB Tk.325.00 US$23.00
Hopefully the Pomegranate contains a small selection of Syed Najmuddin Hashim’s poems, ranging over four decades. From the deeply felt emotion of personal poems to the controlled anger of "political" ones, the poems reveal a man who at all times thought and felt intensely. Written in English, the poems are nevertheless rooted in Bangladesh even as they suggest a man who believed that he shared a common heritage with the rest of the world. The poems move easily between two worlds: if there is the misery caused by the cyclone on Char Tazmuddin, there is also the man-made misery in other parts of the world, in the paddy fields of the napalm-baked Mekong and "the Palestinian camps cowering/Under the unmoved cedars of Lebanon." The poet uses a lucid, rhythmic free verse, often loaded with associations suggesting his wide reading and his international experience. Hopefully, this collection, long overdue, will reveal to an English-reading public the poetic sensibility of a man who, in his own words, through the ages staked his claim to things, ideas and people. Readers will find that, despite the poet’s disclaimer, his eager grasp did not claw emptiness.
Syed Najmuddin Hashim (1925-1999) had his early schooling at St Xavier’s Convent and St Gregory’s High School. He completed his Intermediate from Dhaka Intermediate College and B.A. Honours in English Language and Literature from Presidency College, Calcutta (where he received the Prince Dwarkanath Memorial Medal for the best essay paper in the examination). Journalist, diplomat, editor and broadcaster, he served the government of Pakistan and later of independent Bangladesh in various capacities. He was Minster of Information (1982-84) as well as ambassador of Bangladesh to Burma (now Myanmar), Singapore, USSR, Finland and Mongolia. Among his various publications are Bandishala Pakistan, Asleshar Rakhyoshi Belay, Shomuddyoto Daibo Duripakey. He also translated two of Abu Zafar Obaidullah’s poems in Prayer for Rains and the Brave of Heart and selections from Shamsur Rahman in The Devotee, the Combatant: Selected Poems of Shamsur Rahman.