Md. Rezaul Islam Shamim (better known as Shamim Reza) is a Bangladeshi poet, playwright, novelist, essayist and short-storywriter. He is the founding Director and Professor of Bangabandhu Institute of Comparative Literature and Culture, Jahangirnagar University. He is the second Bangladeshi poet receiving ‘Krittibas’ award launched by famous Indian writer Sunil Gangopadhyay.
Early life and education
Shamim Reza was born on 16 September 1973, in Joykhali village of Kathalia Upazilla under Jhalokathi District. He is the eldest among three children of Talukdar Md Shajahan Mia and Siddika Begum. In 1988, he passed Secondary School Certificate from Rajapur Pilot High School in Jhalokati district, and got admitted into B.M College, Barishal for Higher Secondary certificate. Then he studied Bangla at Jahangirnagar University, and received Bachelor with Honours and Master’s degree in 1995 and 1996 respectively. In 2011, he completed his PhD from same university. The topic of the PhD research was ‘Life of the Subaltern in Indian and Bangladeshi Literature’.
Reza’s first poem was published in his school magazine. It was so neat in its metrical arrangement that the headmaster of the school accused him as a plagiarist. Later Reza could prove his originality, but the incident moved him seriously. He made up his to become a poet.
Akiza Parvin Bithi— Spouse
Soham Shamim— Son
Sohama Shamim Padmini— Daughter
Siddika Begum- Mother
Shajahan Mia Talukder- Father
Shamim Reza’s literary outputs mainly focus on life, nature, and its interconnection and resonance and its eternality in all forms of literature. It depicts nature of Bengal as well as the global voice and values in artistic forms symbolically.
Shamim Reza’s first book of poetry Patharchitre Nadikatha [Rivers Inscribed on Stone] was published in 2001. In the book, his style is mystical but tinged with the essence of the traditional folk narrative style of Bangladesh.
His second book, Nalanda—Dur Bishwer Meye (2004) [Nalanda— Daughter of the Ancient World] presents post-Wasteland humans who are constantly the centre of the postmodern poetic exploration.
His third book, Jakhan Rattir Naima Ashe Subarnanagare (2006) [When Night Falls at Subarnanagar] takes the readers to a new wonderland where all the human beings are in a sort of illusion. They don’t know what they are looking for. Swift movement of language, subtle alliteration, local dialects etc. here create scopes for further linguistic experimentations. This can be considered a mystery in post-Jibanananda Das era.
The fourth book, Brahmander Ishkul (2009) [School of the Universe], is a long poem. Here Reza depicts the life of colonial and post-colonial period. He refuses geographical boundary and shows the consumerist image of the people. The evolution of the modern civilisation seems to have been presented here in historio-poetic manner. It creates a dismay about the world of the rulers.
The fifth book, Hridoylipi (2014) [Verses of Soul], is a compilation of sonnets. Love, rejection, confusion, contradiction etc. find their ways in the book. Reza renews the mysticism of Omar Khayyam, Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, Ghalib and others in his own way. Thus, mysticism opens another level of understanding in this book.
His sixth book, Deshhin Manusher Desh (2018) [Land of the State], can be described as a mere spark of thoughts. It presents the aimless march of the refugees. The poet tells the story of the modern slaves.
Charyalok (2020) [The World of Charya] is a compilation of couplets. Reza takes the readers to the root of Bangla literature (Charyageeti) through this book.
Shamim Reza’a only play Korotir Kotokotha [Tale of the Skull] was published in 1997. In the same year, it was staged on Mukta Mancha, Jahangirnagar University. Selim Al Deen, one of the leading playwrights of Bangladesh, was present in the show. He lauded the performance.
In 2009, Adorn Publication published Ritushanghare Jibananada [Charm in the Company of a maiden lady] containing Shamim Reza’s six short stories. Reza claims himself to be very fastidious about writing short stories.
Shamim Reza’s novel Bharatbarsha was published in 2008, in the Eid issue of the Daily Shamakal. Reza continues two plots in parallel. First one shows the early seventeen century slave trades in Indian subcontinent. Whereas, the latter, shows how religion is enslaving the contemporary world. Immediately after publication, the novel stirred the fundamentalists. But Shamim’s insight and diction attracted readers and critics.
Kagoj Prokashan published Shamim Reza’s five essays as a book in 2019. All the essays bear testimony to Reza’s depth of intellect regarding contemporary issues. The book was named Shomoy o Shomoyantorer Chitrakalpa [Illustration of time and beyond].
Reza had to face negative criticism from many leading critics due to the use of colloquial language in his third poetry book Jokhon Rattir Naima Ashe Subarnanagare(2006). There was even question about the poetic worth of his writing. But the number of his supporter was not few. Sunil Gangopadhay said about Reza’s diction, ‘Shamim simply nullifies the divergent line between classicism and romanticism. While reading, readers will ultimately lose and find themselves in the midst of travelling, love, history as well as self-discovery.’Al Mahmood, one of the prominent Bangladeshi poets, said, ‘Shamim’s diction has compelled me to rethink. I acknowledge this as a sign of his poetic genius.’ In 2004, Syed Manzoorul Islam- Bagladeshi writer and critic- wrote about Reza in the Daily Ajker Kagoj. There he praised Reza’s style, and said, ‘Enriching his language with all the deepest and core feelings, with meditation like devotion, and of course with passion, he ultimately creates a new world of poetry.’
Late poet and Essay writer of India, Utpal Kumar Basu, mentioned Reza’s emergence as an important incident in the world of poetry. Basu said, ‘I’ve noticed a significant change in recent Bagladeshi poetry. The new poets have made it happen. Among them, Shamim Reza deserves most attention.’
Reza’s third book Jokhon Rattir Naima Ashe Subarnanagare(2006) has been included in Masters syllabus of Bangla departmen at Uttarbanga University, West Bengal. Life and works of poet Shamim Reza has been accepted as the topic of an MA Thesis in Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet (SUST), in 2017.
In 2012, Shamim Rezar Kobita (Poems of Shamim Reza) was published from Tripura, West Bengal. In the inauguration ceremony, chief minister Manik Sarker was on stage, and he highly praised Reza’s poetic diction.
- Krittibas Award (2007)
- Binoy Mojumder Shommanona ( 2014)
- Kobita Ashram Award (2019 )
- Bogura Lekhokchakra Shommanona (2020)
Shamim Reza started his professional life with journalism. In 1995, he joined the Daily Lal Shabuj. Later in 1997, he joined the Daily Ajker Kagoj. But Reza had pure interest in teaching. So, he joined Dhaka College as a lecturer of Bangla in 2003, and continued till November 2011. At the end of that very year, he joined Bangla department in Jahangirnagar University. Later in 2016, he founded Bangabandhu Institute of Comparative Literature and Culture, the first of the kind in Bangladesh, in the same University. Shamim Reza is currently working as a professor at the institute. He is also in the chair of its Director.
As an Editor
Shamim Reza with Shivnarayan Roy edited African Literary Collection- 1 and 2 in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Odhora Bishwer Pratibhu [Master of the Mystic world] - a tribute to Kazi Anis Ahmed- has been edited solely by Shamim Reza, and it was published in 2020.
As an Organizer
Besides being a poet and professor, Shamim Reza has been working as a skilled organizer since his student life. In 1988, he founded Talukdar Badshah Library in Rajapur, Jhalokati (Reza’s birthplace). He was the founder secretary of Rajapur Press Club (1991). During his college life, Reza formed an organization named ‘Dhanshiri Shahittya Shoikat’ (1990). It was a Barishal based literary organization. Later ( from 2007) from the very organization he initiated ‘Jibananada Award’ which has been conferred upon as many as twelve literary figures of the country among whom mention may made of Khondokar Ashraf Hossain, Shantonu Kaisar, Sushanto Mojumdar, Asad Mannan and Kamal Chowdhury. For several years, Reza worked as an advising literary editor to the Daily Kaler Kantha (2008- 2011).
Shamim Reza is also the coordinator of Dhaka Literary Festival and Pen International Vice President Bangladesh Chapter. He has been acting as an advisor to University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB)- one of the leading private universities in the country- and performing as an editor to Kagoj Publication since 2000. He also works as the member secretary to Gemcon Literary Award.
Dr. Md. Rezaul Islam
Bangabandhu Institute of Comparative Literature and Culture
Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka-1342, Bangladesh.