Biography of Nilmani Phookan

Nilmani Phookan is a man like a shining star of the Assamese poetry world who has continued the practice of poetry for a long time and enriched Assamese poetry with his own pursuits. He is the person who has spent his entire life on poetry and practiced poetry. Modern Assamese poetry is not completed without the poetry of Nilmani Phookan, a bright star in Assamese poetry. The reader is easily attracted to the expression and content of each poem of Nilmani Phookan, rich in his own experience, memories, and dreams. The poem of the poet Nilmani Phookan, who introduces highly sensual, sensitiveness, has a combination of heritage and tradition.

Biography of Nilmani Phookan

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Table of Contents

Name   Nilmani Phookan[1]
Date10 September 1933
Place of BirthDergaon, Golaghat District, Assam
FatherKritinath Phookan
MotherBardabala Phookan
Education1/ Dergaon High School

2/ Cotton College

3/ Guwahati University
Awards1/ Raghunath Choudhary Award (1971)

2/ Jagadhatri Harmohan Award (1988)

3/ Kamal Kumari National Award (1991)

4/ Chhagnlal Jain Award (1991)

5/ Government of India’s ‘Amyretas Fell’ (1998)

6/ Indian Language Council Award (2000)

7/ Sahitya Akademi Award (1981)

8/ Padma Shri Samman/Award (1990)

9/ Assam Valley Literature Award (1997)

10/ Sahitya Akademi Fell’ (2002)

11/ National Poet’s Honor from Assam Sahitya Sabha  

12/ Assam Administration Council’s Lifetime Sadhana Award for Literature (2004)  

13/ Kavya Jhanshi, All Assam Kavi Sammelan/Poet’s Reunion (2015)

14/ Highest Honor of Assam Sahitya Sabha National Poet Title (2017)

15/ Dibrugarh University’s prestigious ‘De Lit Samman’ (Title) (2019)

16/ Jnanpith Award (2021)

Early life

Nilmani Phookan was born on September 10, 1933, at Dergaon in Golaghat district. His father’s name was Kirtinath Phookan and his mother’s name was Bardabala Phookan. Unfortunately, Bardabala Phookan left this world when Nilmani Phookan was a child.

Nilmani Phookan passed the entrance examination in 1953 after completing his schooling at Dergaon High School and becoming a private student from Guwahati. In 1957, he graduated from Cotton College and in 1960 he received his Master’s degree in History from Guwahati University.  

Also Read: Biography of Raghunath Choudhary


After completing his formal education, Nilmani Phookan started his career as a teacher at Dergaon Balika/Girls High School in 1961. He joined Arya Vidyapeeth Higher Secondary School as a subject teacher in 1961 after teaching for six months in this school. After teaching at Arya Vidyapeeth Higher Secondary School for three years, he joined Arya Vidyapeeth College in 1964 as a professor of history and retired from his career as head professor of history in 1992. Nilmani Phookan who considers teaching as the bread of life, was also involved in various college subjects: curriculum.



Nilmani Phookan, who started writing poems from 1950, his collection of the first poems published is – Surjya Henu Nami Ahe a Nadiye Di in 1963. Apart from this, other poetry books compiled by him are: ‘The Word of Solitude’ (1965), Aru Ki Noi Habda (1968), ‘Towards the blooming sunflower’ (1971), ‘Thorn rose and Thorns’ (1975), ‘Gulapi Jamur Lagna’ (1977), ‘Kavita/Poetry’ (1981), ‘Nrityarata/Dance World’ (1985), ‘What we talked about a while ago’ (2003), ‘Sampurna Kavita/Kobita’ (2003), ‘Selected poems’ (2009), ‘Nilmani Phookan’s Rachanavali’ (2012). Also published in 1994 is a collection of Poems titled ‘Saagar Talit Shankha’, a collection of Phookan’s poems edited by Dr. Hiren Gohain.

Importantly, Nilmani Phookan’s self-selected poetry book won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1981 for his poetry book published in 1980. It was through this that a path was opened for his poetic talent to be established in whole India. The book ‘Kobita’, which bears the notable signature of the poet’s life, contains poems written by Nilmani Phookan between 1975 and 1980.

The poems of Nilmani Phookan, who introduced his own consonant along with a distinct introduction to Assamese poetry literature, have also been translated into Gujarati, Oriya, Bengali, English, and German. He has won the Assam Sahitya Sabha Award for ‘Poetry towards the blooming sunflower’. On the other hand, he also won the Assam Publishing Council Award, the Assam Valley Literature Award in 1997 and the Kamal Kumari Award for the book ‘Kait Gulap Rose/Thorne Rose’ and ‘Kait Kavya’ published in 1977. Nilmani Phookan who, also edited a magazine called ‘Sangya/Definition’, participated as the only Indian representative at the International Poets’ Conference held in Stotga, Yugoslavia in 1982.

Nilmani Phookan is the poet who enriched Assamese poetry with a new form. The poet, who is perfect in making symbols and paintings, has enriched his poetry with the influence of Japanese Haiku and Tonk, Spanish poet Federika Garthia Lourka and the French of The Protest movement. Beauty sense, love, nightmares, death consciousness, grey memories of the boys, symbolic consonant are one of the features of his poetry. With less words, using the beautiful words of Assamese language, he gave a new-look to poetry. Importantly, his poem reflects the complex form of rainbow-era poetry.

Another important feature of his poetry is the extent and depth of the subject. The poem of Nilmani Phookan, who enriched Assamese poetry with the successful application of symbolism as well as proper use of painting, shows the diverse form of Assamese language publishing power.

Nilmani Phookan translated his poems and expressed his fascination for poets from different countries of the world. The poetry collections he translated are:  ‘Japanese Poetry’ (1971), Garthia L’Orkar Kavita’ (1981), ‘Aotranya Gaan/Forest Songs’ (1993 and ‘Chinese Poetry’ (1996), ‘Anuhristhi’ (2014). Importantly, in addition to Chinese and Japanese poetry, poets from different parts of the world, such as Garthia Lorka, Nazim Hikmat, Ho-Si-Meen, etc., were also associated with Nilmani Phookan. However, the poetry of the deeply studying and subjective poet Nilmani Phookan does not have a direct impact on any poet. On the contrary, the poems of Phookan, are rich in folk culture, painting and heritage consciousness of national life.  

Not only poetry but also the language of Nilmani Phookan’s prose is as monotonous, transparent and consonant as poetry. Nilmani Phookan, who published prose on the rainbow era edited by Maheshwar Neog in the fifties, continues to practice prose in parallel with poetry. Importantly, he entered the literary world through prose directly even though he was known as a poet. The autobiographies published by him are – ‘Pati Sonaru Phool’ published in 2006 and ‘Pahoriba Nuewarilu Ge/Not Forgotten’ published in 2018.


In addition to autobiographies, the collections of articles published by him are: ‘Lok Kalpa Drishti’ (1987), ‘Roop Varna Bak’ (1988), ‘Realization and Joy of Art’ (1988), ‘Art Philosophy’ (1998), ‘Bichitra Likha/Bizarre Writing’ (2010), ‘Kavita’s Background’ (2016). 

Edited book

Apart from this, the book edited by Nilmani Phookan is ‘Manideep’ published in 1966 and ‘Assamese Poetry of the twentieth Century’ published in 1977. Both these books by Phookan have played an important role in making the repository of Assamese literature a great deal.

Currently 89 years old personality Nilmani Phookan is a poet scented with the fragrance of the soil of Assam. He seems to have been vocal in various aspects of Assam’s social life. The poet, who is entitled to a strong personality who does not want to break the old age, opposed the citizenship amendment law enacted by the state and central governments recently.

Nilmani Phookan, who has occupied a special place in modern Assamese poetry with his talent and pursuits by practicing poetry since the fifties, has been able to expand Assamese poetry through a new poetic style and new experiments. Some of the poems of Nilmani Phookan, considered to be a worthwhile poem among the reader community, are – ‘Surjya Henu Nami Aahe a Nadiye Di/The sun also descends on this river’, ‘Swapnabasavadatta’, ‘History, ‘Maithun Sangeet’, ‘Scene/Drichya, Pink/Gulap Jamu Lagna ‘, ‘Some small summer scenes’ etc.

Another significance for the imagery of French poetry as well as the inspiration from German expressionism – impressionism, Chinese – Japanese poetry and the local heritage consciousness, is reflected in the poem by Nilmani Phookan. In fact, while Neelmani Phukan’s poetic thoughts on various diverse themes are a matter of great concern, and have been strengthened, Assamese folk literature, Vaishnava literature, Tradition, Assam’s soil- water – smell of the people has overshadowed his poetic mentality.


Nilmani Phookan, who has contributed significantly to the prosperity and passage of Assamese poetry, has borne the signature of individuality by successfully transforming the art of the world of flora, folk life into the relationship of painting in modern Assamese poetry. Nilmani Phookan, who has filtered the water of Assam through poetry in various forms, is a man of Assamese poetry and literature.


1. When and where was Nilmani Phookan born?

Ans: He was born on September 10,1933 at Dergaon, Golaghat District, Assam.

2. When did Nilmani Phookan was awarded Sahitya Akademi Award and why?

Ans: He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1981, for his poetry collection Kavita (Kobita).

3. Name some of the notable works of Nilmani Phookan?

Ana: Some of the notable works of Nilmani Phookan are- Surya Henu Nami Ahe Ei Nodiyedi, Gulapi Jamur Lagana, and Kobita.

4. For what Nilmani Phookan was known for?

Ans: He was known for his use of Symbolism.

5. When did Nilmani Phookan was awarded with ‘Jnanpith Award’, country’s highest literary award?

Ans: He was awarded with ‘Jnanpith Award‘ the highest literary award in 2021, for his contribution to literature.

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