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April 14, 2016

Young poets seek to revive oratory poetry

Karachi

 
April 14, 2016

Karachi

Ghari ki sui atak gayi/Sooraj ne taqat di/Ghari chal pari /Agle din, ghari phir atki/Sooraj ne taqat dene se inkaar kardiya/Aur ghurub honay se bach gaya

[The clock’s hand got stuck/The sun offered some energy/The clock started moving/The next day, the clock got stuck again/The sun refused to offer assistance/And saved itself from setting]

These were aspiring poet Ali Mehdi's words that alluded towards a hope that Urdu poetry will continue to thrive as long as young poets kept experimenting with new forms and styles. 

However, it’s not every day that individuals having a keen interest in literature gather to share their own work and perhaps this is why the theatre room of Habib University was filled with attendees who listened to oratory poetry in both English and Urdu in a session titled ‘Sukhan’.

Organised by Arzoo Centre and Zau, a bilingual magazine launched by University of Karachi students, the event was based on performances by students as they recited their own works as well as pieces by the literary giants like W. H Auden, William Shakespeare, D. H Lawrence, Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi, Noon Meem Rashid and Patras Bukhari.

Starting off with the English sections, participants read out and performed ballads, spoken word poetry and Shakespeare’s sonnets followed by a translation of some sonnets done by an English professor Dr Iftikhar Shafi. 

However the second-half catering to Urdu added more zeal as Yusufi’s piece was read out after which many shared their own ghazals and nasri-nazmain, with frequent requests from members of the audience to repeat entire ghazals.

The event concluded on an oration of Pitras’s 'Mureedpur Ka Peer' as the audience laughed together at Pitras’s ever-witty style. The guests, poet Afzaal Ahmed Syed, poet and critic Satyapal Anand and Secretary Anjuman-e-Tarraqie-e-Urdu, Fatima Hasan, appreciated the efforts of young poets and performers who gave them hope that ‘good’ literature still existed.

“These young poets have made us hopeful as the poetry delivered here was not only beautiful but was also able to strike the audience who understood and appreciated it,” said Syed.

Anand, who also shared two of his works, said he was greatly impressed by the content produced by participants. “I felt young again and remembered my student days. The recitations were so good I was bamboozled and felt elated after listening to the poems.”

Given that many read out their own prose-poems, Anand added that the trend was indeed unexpected for him because it was fairly new and wouldn’t have been expected a quarter century back. 

Speaking about the main idea behind this session, the editor of Zau, Arfa Ezazi, stressed on the need to promote literature produced by the young blood. “Our very first session in 2014 was born out of our woes about the lack of any gatherings where young writers could come and hear good poetry in both English and Urdu. In essence, the Oratory Poetry Sessions and Zau complement each other — what Zau does in writing, OPS delivers in speech and such gatherings. The aim remains the same, to bring the great work being produced under an umbrella, and prove and put out that there is tremendous potential in the emerging poets and writers, and not all hope is lost —what we need is to give acknowledgment, encouragement, and a safe place. With Sukhan, we want to revive the culture of literary and poetic orations.”