Stories about poet

I rise, I am the dream and the hope of the slave – Maya Angelou

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou A great soul has left us. Everyone is saddened by the passing of one of the most celebrated poet, writer, teacher, artist, dancer, director and civil rights activist, Dr Maya Angelou, who died on May 28, 2014, at the age of 86. People will never forget how Angelou made them feel. Poet, critic and scholar Joanne M Braxton remembers her as “America’s most visible black female auto biographer”. To me, when I think of Angelou ...

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Remembering Jalib, remembering his fight against dictatorship

There was a man who audaciously used to say, “Mai nahi Manta” (I refuse to accept) He was neither a bourgeois nor a feudal and surely, he was not patronised by any ‘third force’ (Teesri Quwwat) that has a hand in every incident that takes place in Pakistan. He was an ideologue, charismatic and an eloquent poet. Moreover, he was best known for his revolutionary zeal. He struggled for the restoration of democracy and human rights. His enthralling poetry elucidated the notorious rule of dictators. However, his poesy still befits today’s political setting. That man was none other than the great Habib Ahmed Jalib. Dastoor was ...

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Radiated mind

I painfully limp towards a pile of poetry buried in dust, Devouring words and lines Like the bittersweet intoxication of a spinal tap; To feed a brain long dormant For three months in a hospital bed.   To awaken the poet that almost died, Words wither away and sentences snarl imperfection. Nocturnal witching hours are spent in pursuit of creativity, Hopelessly. I had the word! And now it’s gone, In the fuzzy, indistinct chatter of air-conditioning vents.   Claustrophobia. A plastic mask clasped me during cranial radiation, Like an implacable pillow in the hands of a killer. A tight white prison For technicolor sensibilities, Banning any muses from melting through.   My mind is nothing without my art. And to escape from the eternal facade, I present to ...

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In praise of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2011

In case you didn’t notice, it was the annual literary maelstrom last week. The Nobel Prize in Literature was handed to somebody, Tomas Tranströmer of Sweden. The announcement evoked a global response which entailed synchronised hair pulling, angry tweeting, cynical literary opining in the millions. On the whole, it turned out to be an entirely predictable show of hostility from a world of outraged readers. The ruling sentiments went something like this: “Oh right! So Roth/Murakami/Pynchon/Nadas/Adonis is going to lose out AGAIN to somebody I’ve not even heard of?” “Wait, are you saying, like, this guy Transformer-whatever, haha, his work is ...

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Falling ill

I came across Hameed Akhtar last week and found him quite out of sorts. He complained that even after he had written a column about his failing health none of his friends had come visiting to inquire after him. I felt so embarrassed and yet, I realised, the only person really responsible for it was himself. His column about himself was followed immediately by one that made me forget his illness. Even when I recalled the previous column, I was convinced that the latter column could not have been written by an ailing man. It was about how mushairas, the ...

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Iqbal: Beyond poetic catchphrases

Yesterday was the death anniversary of one of Pakistan’s prominent national heroes, philosopher and poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal. Dr Riffat Hassan wrote a wonderful piece on how Iqbal’s ideology and message has been excluded from national discourse. I would like to echo that sentiment; today’s generation feels no connection to Iqbal’s ideas. Every once in a while, I see a couple of his lines on someone’s Facebook status but that’s about it. Pakistanis know nothing of the man beyond a few catchphrases. His ideas are important to understand, question and reflect on, because we have all grown up in an environment ...

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“The good earth in our cities is confined to small pots”

Where are such scatterbrains to be found today? I mean people like Mubarik Ahmed, the poet. A selection of his poetry has been published recently and I am reminded of so much: about his poetry, about his bicycle, about his concern and his efforts for the Movement for World Government. Meera Ji, free verse, Halqa Arbab-i-Zauq, his bicycle, prose poetry, the Movement for World Government were the elements that together defined the poet’s personality. Of course, seeing the parts as disparate is just a mental block. Let me say nonetheless that together his many interests piled up so much stuff ...

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