Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Shyamal Kumar Pramanik

Jun 11, 2021 | Front And Center, Poetry | 3 comments

Translated from the Bengali by Jaydeep Sarangi

The man runs out
To write a poem on fire
Disregarding the inequality
He runs in the main street like God
I ask him, who is he?
He replies, I’m Shambok
The Untouchable.


Near the Tree of Knowledge

The boy used to stumble since childhood
Now he is walking like a cheetah on yellow field
The boy who was afraid of riding a stair
Now riding toward the moon.
Now he is to destroy the blue moon
All prejudices.
We lost our homes long back
Still there is a pull
These deaths! These lives! Sadness!
Marks of blood.
Heart full of affinity, memories of forefathers
With all these sitting near the tree of knowledge.


Fairy Tales 

After the grinding of stones for whole day
Our grandfather used to tell us fairy tales
One prince and another princess
Separated by seven oceans and thirteen rivers
Long long way away
Our seven brothers and sisters
Used to look at each other
Under the moon shine
But when our mother cooked two pieces of roti
Tears flooded her cheeks
Moon shine was vanished.


Song of Breaking Shackles

I am surrounded by stones
Broken temples
Dilapidated houses.
I am surrounded by blind lanes
Untouchable beggars
And birth and death
Disrespect everywhere
In the midst of that
Struggle for survival
And song of breaking shackles.


Accompanying artwork by Jithinlal n r
Shyamal Kumar Pramanik

Shyamal Kumar Pramanik

Shyamal Kumar Pramanik writes on social and political values, and engages with Dalit literary texts and forms of movement in his works. His writing glitters with pain, angst, and impactful social commentary. He sees his writing as a commitment which is both social and political in nature. Dalit literature is born out ideological warfare. Pramanik is a socially-committed artist with a large body of work under his belt. He shows us a better society—one that is based on justice, equality, and fraternity instead of discrimination. His other collection of Dalit poetry titled Aguner Bornomala was first published in 2000 in Bengali. In 2019, it was translated to English as Fiery Garland of Letters, by Kalyan Basu, brought out by the Kolkata-based publisher, Gangchil. The present collection of poems is rich with earthly symbols which serve to demonstrate his protest against the age-old stereotypes around caste in Bengali society, while envisioning a new world where there is equality and freedom for all.

Jaydeep Sarangi

Jaydeep Sarangi

Jaydeep Sarangi is a poet, translator, academic and interviewer. He won the ‘Setu Award of Excellence in 2019’, Pittsburgh,USA. He specializes in marginal studies, postcolonial discourse and new poetry. Sarangi has produced several books and articles on Dalit writers and activists from India including, Surviving in My World: Growing up Dalit in Bengal (2015). With Rob Harle, who lives in Lismore, New South Wales, he has edited six


  1. Rajib Paul

    Wonderful poems by Bangla dalit poet, S K Pramanik! Mind boggling translation….Touched!

  2. Jaydeep Sarangi

    Thank you, team Antonym!
    Translation is always a cultural activism. More power to all dalit poets from different backgrounds!

  3. Jaydeep Sarangi

    Thank you, team Antonym! Translation is cultural activism.
    Bangla dalit writing is a powerful body of literature.



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