Sunday, July 31, 2011

My apologies that this entry is not in verse

Last week was the first PD event I conceived of and executed by myself -- or at least in so far as that can be true given the many local partners and staff who were required to handle the logistics. It was a poetry book launch for a translation exchange between the Pakistan Academy of Letters and the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts. We gave away books of American poetry translated into Urdu and arranged readings from a compilation of Pakistani poetry that had been translated into English. The CG read a translation of Faiz Ahmad Faiz's poem "Don't Ask Me, Dear, for that First Love Again." So many people attended, we had to scramble for extra chairs.

I admit to having thought as we were planning the evening, 'Huh, poetry -- perhaps not the edgy subject matter with which I'd hoped to start my PD tour'. The imagined eye-rolls of my POL section friends were almost audible. Two days before the event, however, I read in the papers about a bombing of the shrine of a Sufi poet, apparently by religious extremists. A quick check revealed that his poetry had been included in the translation as well. It turned out that what we were doing was not only edgy, but even a little dangerous.

Here's hoping RSO doesn't catch on.

Today the papers reported that the Pakistani poetry book had been used for readings at an unaffiliated open mic night elsewhere in Lahore. I've noticed selections from it on various blogs and websites as well. I'm curious as to how far it will spread -- I suppose there's no real way to know.

6 comments:

eangela said...

Dude: Ghazils of Ghalib edited by Aijaz Ahmad

http://modampo.blogspot.com/2010/06/aijaz-ahmads-ghazals-of-ghalib.html


For more on Egypt, revolution, and poetry, follow this lady:

http://arablit.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/friday-links-political-poetry-heresy-and-how-many-books-since-jan25/

I would never scoff at poetry, unless it was Robert Frost :-p

Katie said...

Yeah, luckily we ended up on the correct road from our diverging choices. My personal favorite poem of the night was by Ustad Daman. It starts off:

"My country has two Allahs,
La ila and Martial Law!"

That's fun stuff.

fsowalla said...

Make sure to visit this great bookstore (address on their Facebook. page).http://www.thelastwordbooks.blogspot.com/

Katie said...

Thanks! I will definitely check it out.

Anonymous said...

I hope Shikwa & Jawab-e-Shikwa by Allama Iqbal were in there too?

Katie said...

From Allama Iqbal, we had "The Great Mosque of Cordoba."