"I have great respect for those many philosophers who said, man can do any factor to himself and his neighbor, that he wants to and he can metaphysically kill as well as bodily kill."
The great Toronto poet Albert Moritz said answering the last question of our monthly Bengali Literary Resource Centre (BLRC) meeting.Bengali Literary resource Centre has been working on introducing Canadian literature to our Bengali-Canadian readers and has been inviting one renowned literary figure every month and arranges a very rich discussion.
It also got very interesting and informative with the ladies at the panel Tasmina Khan, Brotee Das Datta and Marilyn Pandey in the August event. They started with the formal introduction of the guest and the dignitaries. They also prepared questions to ask the writer and direct the conversation in the most fruitful way possible.
It is obvious that they do their homework before coming in and usually the literary figure is pleasantly surprised to realize that. The meetings are also enriched by the literature loving audience who also studies about the guest before coming in and ask the witty, interesting, to the point and related to the subject questions.
This month the honorable guest was the famous Canadian poet the "Master of Metaphor" Albert Frank Moritz. We all know that Moritz was born in Niles, Ohio, and he was educated at Marquette University.
Since 1975, he has made his home in Toronto, Ontario where he has worked variously as an advertising copywriter and executive, editor, publisher, and university professor. A. F. Moritz has been called "one of the best poets of his generation" by John Hollander and "a true poet" by Harold Bloom.
He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors throughout North America, including the Award in Literature of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Fellowship, Poetry magazine's Beth Hokin Prize, the Ingram Merrill Fellowship, and the Griffin Poetry Prize. He is married to Theresa Moritz, with whom he has collaborated on a number of books.
We got to know how this poet has chosen to become a poet at the age of only eight by reading the poetic work of the great American Writer Edgar Alan Poe. Poe has always been a great influence and inspiration to him. This poet has a great knowledge on the world literature.
Every topic he discussed, we got to hear a different example from a different time, genre, language etc. He talked about the literary works from the medieval times, Victorian period, realism, modernism and post-modernism. Also the literary work of English, French, Spanish, Greek and I am very proud to say Bengali authors.
He is a very well-spoken poet and he made the subject matter very simple for the audience. I guess the reason is he currently teaches at Victoria College in the University of Toronto. A good teacher always knows how to make his students understand.
The audience was enchanted by his recitation of his own poem "The Pause". It was about the beautiful memories of his own childhood and how some silly little things like the municipal markings on the riverside fascinate an innocent child's mind and opens the door of great imagination.
We all felt connected to our own childhood. He also answered many questions regarding his book 'The Sentinel" and "The Sparrow: Selected Poems of A. F. Moritz".
He also described his own mental process of giving words to his thoughts and feelings. The way he maintains being the voice of present-day and the way he turns his influence into an actual literary work.
BLRC's highest goal is to introducing the Canadian/Western literature to our Bengali people. But this time amazingly and very surprisingly this fantastic poet brought Bengali literature to us Bengali people. I am sure the audience felt the chills when the poet actually read the verses of our very own "Meghanadabadh Kabya" by our very own Michael Madhusudan Dutt.
We were pleasantly surprised and utterly grateful to him for bringing in something that is entirely ours. I am very much looking forward to read the books by this great poet, teacher and a fantastic human being.
It was a truly successful and rich literary discussion and all the young writers are inspired by this great man. BLRC initiated this year-long book-reading project on 18 November last.
Since December, BLRC has invite done major Canadian poet or author every month and has among us. Poet Moritz was the last guest to read to the Bengalis. It is known that BLRC will arrange a concluding ceremony next month.
The writer is a cultural and literary
activist living in Toronto.