Noted Assamese poet Nilmani Phookan passes away at 89

Noted Assamese poet and Jnanpith awardee Nilmani Phookan passed away on Thursday. He was 89.

Phookan was undergoing treatment at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) due to old-age related health issues.

He died at the hospital around 11.55 a.m.

Speaking to the media here, Abhijit Sarma, superintendent of GMCH, said that the poet was being treated by doctors from the cardiology, neurology, anesthesia, and medicine departments.

Phookan complained of difficulty in breathing and was admitted to the GMCH from a private hospital on Tuesday for advanced treatment.

Sarma said that the poet had contracted septic shock that spread throughout his body. He was given antibiotics to treat the infection.

Phookan was undergoing non-invasive ventilation (NIV) at the hospital.

The poet was born in Dergaon in Golaghat district on September 10, 1933. He received his Master’s degree in History from Guwahati University in 1961. He started writing poetry in the early 1950s.

Phookan’s poems were replete with French symbolism which he infused in his Assamese poetry. His notable works include ‘Surya Henu Name Ahe Ei Nodiyedi’, ‘Gulapi Jamur Lagna’ and ‘Kobita’.

He won the 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, ‘Kobita’.

He received the Padma Shri in 1990, and the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, the highest literary honour in India, in 2022.

Phookan was a lecturer at Arya Vidyapeeth College where he worked until his retirement in 1992.

He also translated Japanese and European poetry into Assamese.

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