Noted Assamese poet and Jnanpith Awardee Nilmani Phookan passed away on January 19 at the age of 89. The poet was undergoing treatment at Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) due to old-age related health issues.
The poet passed away at GMCH at around 11.55 am.
Abhijit Sarma, superintendent of GMCH, stated to the media on January 19 that Phookan's health was slightly better than it was when he was admitted to the hospital in a critical condition yesterday.
He was being treated by cardiology, neurology, anesthesia, and medicine.
Phookan complained of difficulty in breathing and was referred by Sanjeevani Hospital to GMCH on January 18 for advanced treatment.
According to Superintendent Abhijit Sarma of GMCH, Phookan had contracted septic shock, which spread throughout his body, putting him at risk of getting infection.
He was given antibiotics as a diagnosis to treat the infection.
He was undergoing non-invasive ventilation (NIV) at GMCH, and no one was permitted to meet him at the time.
Born on September 10, 1933, Phookan’s poems were replete with French symbolism which he infused them in his Assamese poetry. His notable works include ‘Surya Henu name Ahe Ei Nodiyedi, Gulapi Jamur Lagna, and Kobita’.
Nilmani Phookan won the 56th Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary award for the year 2021.
He was also awarded the 1981 Sahitya Akademi Award in Assamese for his poetry collection, Kavita (Kobita). He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1990, and received the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, the highest literary honour in India, given by Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters in 2022.
Phookan was born in Dergaon in Golaghat district, Assam. He received his Master’s degree in Historyu from Guwahati University in 1961. Although he had started writing poetry since the early 1950s.
He started his career as a lecturer at Arya Vidyapeeth College in Guwahati in 1964, where he worked until his retirement in 1992. He also translated Japanese and European poetry into Assamese.
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