Friday, April 30

Saraswati Samman for Patar

In a state which is struggling to ensure that its people do not forget their mother-tongue, the announcement of a Punjabi poet, Surjit Patar having been chosen for the prestigious Saraswati Samman, came as a welcome news.
The Saraswati Samman instituted by the K. K. Birla Foundation, is an annual award for outstanding prose or poetry literary works in any Indian language and carries cash prize worth Rs 5 lakh and citation.
Fittingly, Patar announced to dedicate his award to the mother-tongue and ‘the tradition of Punjabi poetry and language that began with Sheikh Farid and Guru Nanak. “I hope that through my work, I can return small part of this debt during my lifetime,” said the soft-spoken poet.
Congratulatory messages poured down from Chief Minister to readers from all over the country and abroad. His phone did not stop ringing till the battery conked down and his fan page on Facebook was choc-a-bloc.
The suave poet takes all the adulation with a grace and poise that is contrary to the image of a boisterous Punjabi. He portrays this image through the dulcet tones in which he sings his poetry and the lyrical language he employs even in his ordinary day to day talk. This is reflected in his poems, obviously. Replete with imagery drawn from nature as well as local metaphors and motifs he interweaves in his poems contemporary concerns and personal impressions effortlessly.
This has ensured a distinct literary identity for Patar who enjoys immense popularity with general public and high acclaim from critics at the same time.
He is the third Punjabi writer after Harbhajan Singh and Dalip Kaur Tiwana to get the Saraswati Samman, other recipients of which include Harivansh Rai Bacchan, Vijay Tendulkar, Sunil Gangopadhyay among others.
65 year old Patar, who retired as Professor of Punjabi from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, has six books of poetry to his credit. He has also translated into Punjabi three tragedies of Federico García Lorca besides adaptations of plays from Jean Giradoux, Euripides and Racine. The celebrated poet has also been the recipient of Sahitya Akademi Award and Panchnad Puruskar by Bhartiya Bhasha Parishad, Kolkata in '99 besides having been conferred DLitt by Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.