Stories about poetry

Has contemporary Urdu poetry lost its essence?

In Urdu literature, traditionally two concepts have remained dominant with regards to where creativity emanates from. The first is amad (spontaneity) and second is awrad (contrived). For a long time, the majority of Urdu writers, and the socio-cultural ethos in general, tilted more towards the amad theory, with Mirza Ghalib writing, “Aate hain ghaib se ye mazaameen khayaal mein Ghalib  sareer-e-Khaama nawaa-e-sarosh hai…” (The subjects (for my poetry) come to me from divine hidden sources, The scratching sound my pen makes resonates like the sound of angels) There were several writers who grappled with these ideas in Urdu literature, however they were not formally conceptualised until Muhammad Hussain Azad, ...

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A searing jeremiad from Zehra Nigah to mark the Global Climate Strike

The Global Climate Strike from September 20 to 27 led to massive marches for climate justice around the world last Friday, including one in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the fiery and moving address of the 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York earlier this week took the global elite by storm. Yet, in countries like Pakistan, which could face massive droughts by 2025, possibly leading to water scarcity and water wars with our neighbour India, climate change is rarely seen as a pressing matter. It is worrying that in a country like Pakistan, which is massively dependent ...

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The indivisible relationship of Urdu and Karbala

Karbala is an event that carries no parallels and transcends beyond time and space. There have been several incidents where people have lost lives and families have been destroyed. However, Karbala is different; the events of Karbala are categorised as a climax of collective spatial and temporal oppression. At one time, in one location, all the violence that can possibly take place came together. The tale of this tragedy is never ending. Translated in different languages, it has inspired many people all over the world. However, the relationship of Karbala with Urdu is unique. As soon as Muharram starts, we ...

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Snows of good intentions

There is a cross on the ground I walk, There is a cross in this snow. There are footsteps of God knows who, Tire tracks of Old Chevy Malibu’s. There’s a horizon I can’t really see, Except for what the headlights show. There are moody storms with patches of snow, But it just always seems there’s more and more and more — snow. There is blood in the snow and it shines bright and red, There are people who walk past me, behind me, In front of me — but no one notices. There is a cross on the ground, There is a cross in this snow, There is a trail of ...

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A teacher’s response

No, beta, the trees can’t talk and sing, Nature doesn’t invite you in, And the wind certainly doesn’t give you wings! No, no, colours don’t melt, Transcendental emotions you pen aren’t felt, Word in your poems, Are sounds, lines, and curves, Not pillows, crutches and memory reserves. And please, people are people, Can’t see a rose in a person and person in a rose, A void exists only in space, Not in her eyes! Her hair, how can it be like a fall? Her smile like a fresh stream, And laughter like a heart’s somersault? Sorry, beta, but the dead are dead. Their love and laughter, you can’t store, And their memories, time will ...

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Green Town

Where the church bells don’t ring, Where the billboards don’t shine, Where there are no street walkers, Or hints of the divine. Green Town, Green Town, Green Town. The mosques are out of order, The synagogues flooded to the brim. Where the clothes have no glitter, And the bracelets no gold. Green Town, Green Town, Green Town. Where the karma is tipped, Where the shore is no more. Where the sex has no pleasure, No guilt or no pain. Where the people are selfish, So utterly vain. Green Town, Green Town, Green Town. Where the sky is shining, And it’s raining too. Where the earth is so tilted, Titled to the moon. Where the ordered disorder, Is always so true. Green Town, ...

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The dream that could never be – part 1: She thought God had come for her

O’ sweet mother, don’t send me away, I am but so young; it is late in the day. Dogs on the street shall pick me apart, They’ll chew on my bones and tear out my heart. Then he shall come to claim pieces of me, My soul in tatters, my dreams and debris. But his smile is what I fear the most, His touch, his stench, his breath I loathe. Just let me stay in your warm embrace, Silent as death, I’ll quietly stay. In your lap I’ll sleep a dreamless sleep, No dogs, no wolves shall come to steal. In your sweet grasp, I shall gladly stay, Till it’s time to ...

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“A Moses without manifestation, a Christ without a cross”: Karl Marx as remembered by Wamiq Jaunpuri

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.” – Karl Marx Europe in the 19th century gave birth to two thinkers who changed everything about how we see the world. One was Charles Darwin. The other was Karl Marx, who was born 201 years ago today. Darwin discovered the law of evolution of plants and animals (the law of natural selection and survival of the fittest), while Marx sought the law of evolution of human history. Darwin’s discoveries sparked a revolution in the scientific world, while Marx’s discoveries illuminated the pathways to ...

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Kashmir: Don’t ever call this valley a ‘paradise’

Let me tell you a tale, a story filled with reality. Kashmir destroyed by tyrants and their cruelty. Where women are assaulted and children are not spared. The rulers are the murderers and the ‘security’ men feared. Pellets to blind, tear gas shells to choke you. Jails to languish, bullets to kill you. They’ve empty hearts, their blood is cold. Some among us are theirs, their faith is sold. The children of ours, tormented and in trauma. Then they’ll try to fox you and do all the drama. A little boy, they inserted needles into his eyes. Slapped, tortured him and then came up with lies. India, the most tolerant is what they call themselves. But tales ...

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You in your sleep, me in my wakefulness

You are sleeping… And a part of me wants to wake you up Just so I can see you smile That smile you save for me You don’t yet understand, But maybe one day you will… That with every passing moment, My belief roots deeper Never diminishing, only growing With every smile, every glance Every sigh and every word Yes – you are sleeping And I’m sitting here… imagining the unseen. The sound of you breathing Cheek resting against the pillow The curl of your fingers Arm folded under the sheet Cosy warmth of your body My heart wells up As I resist the urge… To whisper in your ear And drag you out of your dream But no, You’re ...

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