The educational, cultural and literary work undertaken by BYCS has over the past decades been carried out to promote the many facets of Bangladesh and to highlight its culture and learning. Bangladesh has contributed greatly in many areas, including arts and culture and Bangladeshis have made a significant and positive contribution to life in the UK. We are proud of our heritage and endeavour to share this with our local community in Leicester.
In 1998, BYCS published a bilingual edition of “Selected poems of Kazi Nazrul Islam” which was translated by renowned Bangladeshi scholar Syed Mujibul Huq to mark the birth centenary of the great poet. This anthology was widely acclaimed as work of great literary merit and perhaps for the first time brought a fresh perspective and appreciation of Bengali poetry in this country.
The launch of the anthology in Leicester was followed by a cultural show and exhibition to coincide with the poet’s 100th birth anniversary in 1999 and a London launch of the book at the Nehru Centre, London and the Nazrul Centenary Lecture at the Nazrul Centre in Tower Hamlets.
In 2000, BYCS presented an exhibition “Images of Bangladesh” - A Journey into Modern Bangladesh through Literature, Costumes and Arts and Crafts. The exhibition was held in partnership with the Spanish Commission for Refugees in the Spanish city of Bilbao, which is regarded as the cultural capital of Europe.
Following this success of Nazrul Anthology, it was felt that by bringing out a similar anthology of Tagore, the confluence of the two great Bengali poets would enhance further appreciation of Bengali poetry.
BYCS launched this project under the banner of “CONFLUENCE” in March 2002 with an Arts Lottery Award from East Midlands Arts. Charnwood Arts, Leicester City Library and Leicester City Museums and a host of other organisation supported this venture. Once again, BYCS approached Syed Mujibul Huq in Bangladesh to do the selection and translation of Tagore songs and poetry. The work was completed in mid 2002 and the project came to fruition with the publication of “Beyond Melody”. Both books were printed in Bangladesh in hard cover to an international printing standard. Because of the competitive production cost of the books as well as the desire to reach wider readership, BYCS was able to keep the selling price nominal for both the books.
BEYOND MELODY was launched on 27th October 2002 at the Victorian Gallery of the New Walk Museum in Leicester, UK, with a welcome speech by Abdul Bari, Chair of BYCS. Simultaneously BYCS also mounted an exhibition depicting the Life and Works of Tagore. Staff at BYCS spent a lot of time on this project and finally when the book was ready to be launched, they prepared exhibition displays which told the story of Tagore in pictures and words.
People from all walks of life, young and old and across the whole cultural spectrum attended the launch, which was a great success. BYCS made the exhibition available to tour other cities as it did with the Nazrul Centenary Exhibition.
The Management Board and staff were delighted to be associated with these literary projects held in the West, as they helped to fill a literary vacuum amongst Bengali speaking young people and English readers. It was intended that the project would promote cross cultural learning to the benefit of all communities.
One of the positive aspects to have come from the interest of young Bangladeshis in the above projects is that more started reading and also composing poetry reflecting their own experiences living in the Diaspora. BYCS published some of this poetry online at http://www.confluence.uk.net/