Celebrated Assamese poet and litterateur — Nilmani Phookan earned the highest Indian literary award “Jnanpith Award.” He has been chosen for the 56th Jnanpith Award this year, along with Konkani writer Damodar Mauzo.
Instituted in 1961, Jnanpith Award is the oldest and the highest Indian literary award presented annually by the Bharatiya Jnanpith to an author for their outstanding contribution towards literature.
Nilmani Phookan, born on 10th September 1933, started writing poetry in the fifties. However, his later evolution made him one of the distinguished poets of the post-war period. He can be noted as one of the pioneers of modernism in Assamese poetry. His work, replete with symbolism, is inspired by French symbolism and is representative of the genre in Assamese poetry. His notable works include Surya Henu Nami Ahe Ei Nodiyedi, Gulapi Jamur Lagna, and Kobita.
He was awarded the 1981 Sahitya Akademi Award for his poetry collection, Kobita. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1990, and received the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, the highest literary honor in India, given by Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters in 2002.