The Dawn: 5th July, 2013

New books: novel, poetry and translations

Mushtaq Soofi 

We find an unending stream of poetry books, inundating the stalls though most of them are of little more value than colourful trash. It seems poetry for us is like banal conversations which we are always so fond of making. And prose! We feel itís a sort of burden our mind is not accustomed to carry. Hence any new book of prose whether fiction or non-fiction is an almost an event.

Saleem Shezad, a well-known poet and writer, has surprised everybody by publishing his novelette” Ghaan” (Killing fields) recently.

The novelette deals with the contemporary socio-political situation of our society where due to a host of factors violence has become a norm, creating a state of extreme insecurity for common man everywhere and anywhere. Locale of the novelette is a small city in Punjab which is now within the reach of intrusive modern communication technology.

The political and ideological role, media, both print and electronic, state institutions, politicians and invisibly visible foreign forces play effect the people in their social economic and cultural life in such a manner that inescapable misery becomes their lot, reducing them to live the existence of insects.

Of all the forces at work each has its hidden or not so hidden agenda forcing down the people’s throat.

The media allows itself to be used as a willing tool of mass manipulation.

Saleem Shezad employs a blend of different literary techniques like dialogues, monologue, description and narration to enhance the impact of the fragmented story he chooses to tell.

His success lies not in telling the dark happenings which we are already familiar with but in exploring their multi-dimensional repercussions that create a black hole sucking in what power wielders, domestic and foreign, call ‘the people’.

Nazar Hussain Jani is a senior poet with passion for mystic way of life. His latest book of poetry “Chup Samundran Wang” (See like silence) provides us with a glimpse of good traditional verses which are difficult to come across these days.

His is watered down version of great classical poetry that sounds fascinating and odd at the same time. Themes and experiences of his expression encompass the presence of divine in the mundane, unity of humanity and interconnectedness between humans and nature.

Respecting the sacredness of life in all its forms is what makes us one with the creator, making the universe a kind of paradise we would love to enter. Quest of beyond is the soul of soulless world we are condemned to live in.

Such an endeavour may look strange to many contemporary readers whose lives are most of the time consumed by constant effort to achieve economic and social survival in a market-oriented society.

Spiritually informed attitude may be a luxury a few can afford in our crassly materialistic world motivated by prospects of loss and gain. “In this sacred grave of my flesh I keep a living soul buried/this is a place of divine’s mystery where I hide an unhidden secret”.

Zubeda Mustafa, a senior journalist and a serious scholar, has deep interest in an issue that has low priority on our national agenda; the education of our children.

Education which is organically linked with the future we envisage for posterity is treated by politicians and bureaucrats like any other government department as if it is a routine administrative matter.

Zubeda Mustafa in her recently-published book “Zaban Ke Zarria Taleem” (Punjabi translations of her selected articles) exposes vividly how the business of education has become the education of business.

She analyses the question of early education from the perspective of young children i.e. the problems they face in the process of learning.
The fundamental problem the children encounter at the very first step is that of language/medium of instruction that still remains unsettled in our educational system.

Early education in mother language is denied to most of children in Pakistan which is their universally acknowledged basic right, causing a high dropout rate in our schools.

She explores the issue of medium of instruction in a rational and scientific manner debunking the ideologically motivated narrative that has trapped our kids in the Tower of Babel to their utter confusion. Anybody interested in the future of our children must take note of what she says. She has answers to some of the vital questions we have put on the back-burner.

“Finishing Line “is a collection of poems by Naveed Shezad, a poet and writer. Poems as the title suggests, seem to be modernistic in the sense that they tend to be abstract while touching on the things concrete.

The poet at times makes conscious effort to create something fresh out of experiences and ideas that are fresh and not so fresh. He knows the language well but his overt concern to coin new phrases may irritate some readers, causing the loss of intended aesthetic impact.

Language is a mysteriously tricky thing. It can make or break a poet. You cannot take liberty with the words unless you are a master craftsman knowing fully well the literary conventions of the language as well as its inner dynamics.

Shezad’s effort though bold produces mixed results; some poems sound fresh with their ambiguously evocative ambiance while other seem labored and contrived, betraying the poet’s obsession with not a fully baked notion of modernistic expression.

One cannot create good poetry merely with the help of a literary theory. If Shezad can afford to have a creative restraint, he may be able to compose much better poetry in future.

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