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Issue 41/42 : July - December, 2008 : Volume 11 No 1/2

A Special Tribute to Robert Dunn

A special tribute to Robert Dunn (1949-2008), organized by Shabdaguchha and Cross-Cultural Communications, was held on November 16th, 2008, in Woodside, New York. A significant number of poets, writers and singers participated in this event to pay their respect to the poet, "who was more for others than for himself."

Hassanal Abdullah, the editor of Shabdaguchha, welcomed everybody to the event. He said, "Robert was a good friend who made himself a household name for many of us. We will keep his legacy by keeping his literary estate alive." A representative from the Bangladesh Mission, New York, Parveen Chowdhury, placed one of Robert's hat in a chair, that was kept there throughout the evening to feel the poet's presence, and expressed her condolences on behave of the Bangladeshi people. Stanley H. Barkan, poet and publisher, who published two of Robert Dunn's books, read from the e-mails sent to him from many parts of the country. Stanley said, "Robert was truly one of those rarities—a poet who was not just for himself. He had a wit that rivaled Ogden Nash and Shel Silverstein, and never failed to elicit a laugh, if not an illumination of intellect, and he always did this with good humor, never attacking anyone in particular, always pin-pricking the vice, not any person."

A tribute to Robert Dunn

D. H. Melhem, also a well-known poet of the city, correctly said, "Robert Dunn made us think, and laugh, and in leaving us suddenly, he made us cry. I hope he understood how much he meant to us. I like to think that he did. He could turn even this most sentimental occasion into an ironic quip we could all laugh at, together. He would have wanted to give us that last gift of wit, lifting our spirits, reminding that he would stick around in some form, kibitzing over our shoulders, urging us to submit to Asbestos (“as best as we can”), to attend the next reading, and the next. And the next one after that. Wherever it might be held." A long time friend of Robert, Leigh Harrison, a poet and a singer, showed the audience a handful of Robert's book covers and read the titles to emphasize his sense of humor that he used throughout his life. Naznin Seamon read Robert's poems in Bengali translation. The other participants of the event are Babette Albin, Kathy Fazio, Allen Goldschmidt, John N. Parris Jr, Larissa Shamilo, Sultan Catto, Neslihan Catto, Bob Trabold, Lucy Cohen Schmeidkr, Manzurul Islam, Sakina Deni, Shahidul Sarker, Diana Manister, Steve Cialino, Ekok Soubir, Pete Dolack, Soud Choudhury, Tom Oleszczuk, Heidi Rain, Mitch Corber, Atusha Chowdhury, Allen Steir, Mollie Doman, Harun Choudhury, and Nirjon Das. Refreshments were served at the end.

The event was taped by NTV and was later broadcasted in the satellite channel 518. A caring Mitch Corber has recorded this event for Robert's mother, who has been hospitlized for a long time, to show how people loved Robert's poetry.

Shabdaguchha, an International Bilingual Poetry Journal, edited by Hassanal Abdullah