English Club and Ewing Literary Society organize discussion on English poetry in Pakistan Apr09


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English Club and Ewing Literary Society organize discussion on English poetry in Pakistan

The English Club and Ewing Literary Society, under its distinguished seminar series of KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE (KESS) arranged a panel discussion on English Poetry in Pakistan: Past, Present and Future on Wednesday, 27 March 2013. Three leading Pakistani poets, Athar Tahir, Ilona Yusuf and Mina Malik, who write in English, read their works and discussed issues relevant to contemporary English poetry.

Athar Tahir is a civil servant and is renowned as an author, poet, translator, painter and calligrapher. He studied at Oxford and University of Pennsylvania. He received the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz for literature in 1998, the Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai Award and the National Book Council Prize. He spoke about the history of schools/movements/milestones in the tradition of Pakistani poetry in English. He also spoke about the ‘baggage of colonialism’ and also addressed the issue of imitation and the process of re-creating and re-imagining using the colonizer’s language.

Ilona Yusuf, a former editor of the Alhamra Literary Review, is the editor of Vallum, a Canadian-based poetry journal. She spoke about promoting and encouraging English poetry in Pakistan without alienating ourselves from the non-English speaking masses and also discussed the importance of such writing as a means to affirm our culture instead of negating it.

Mina Farid Malik spoke about the role of mentoring and the way experienced poets can share their wisdom/excellence with the younger generation in terms of place, space and time. She also spoke about the importance of creative writing forums and emphasized on the ways through which creative writing classes can become a common feature of English departments’ curricula in Pakistan. Besides the mentioned, she also spoke about some of the distinguishing features of modern Pakistani poetry in English and South Asian poetry. Malik is an author, teacher and activist and works for the Simorgh Women’s Resource and Publication Center.

The forum provided an excellent opportunity for literature lovers to familiarize themselves with the themes and concerns of modern Pakistani poems and poets.