|Earth in Pain Painting by Joe Kotas|
Ghazal: The weeds may flourish, let the path go on
The weeds may flourish, let the path go on
Even if I am tired, let the caravan move on.
The sun and moon–our ancestors’ guides
Even if they extinguish, let the breeze move on.
O, ruler of the town, what sort of town is this?
The mosques may be closed, let the taverns run on.
Call it faith, or the craft of politics
The art of suicide you taught us well.
So many corpses, how will I shoulder them?
The virtue of bricks you preserved so well.
Bring the shovels, open earth’s layers
Where I am buried, let me know as well.
Khar-au-khas to uthein, raasta to chale, Kaifi Azmi (Translation from Azmikaifi.com)
Good day, poets! This is Anmol (alias HA) and I thought of introducing you all to a poet who may not be very known to you. One of the most prominent writers in Urdu, Kaifi Azmi is well renowned for bringing the nuances of Urdu poetry and literature to Indian cinema. He was a member of Progressive Writers' Association, of which other members included such great poets and writers of the subcontinent like Ismat Chughtai, Saadat Hasan Manto, Mulk Raj Anand, Premchand, and Faiz Ahmed Faiz, who still enthrall us with their creative and evocative subjects and themes. It's the birth centenary of Kaifi Azmi this year and thus, I think that there is no better time than this to have a conversation about the idea of socio-political narrative in creative arts.
Recently, I attended a talk by an Indian journalist I really admire, P. Sainath. On writing (primarily journalistic writing), he talked about how important it is for writers to immerse themselves into the great processes of their times. He talked about some such great processes of this century like climate change, big corporations, inequalities still persistent in our society, et al. He talked about engaging with these processes and bringing to foray the very lived human experiences and impacts in what you write. What do you think about the same? How important do you think it is for the creative and literary writers like poets and novelists to engage with such themes and subject matters?
For The Tuesday Platform, share one link to a poem, old or new, by adding it to the linking widget down below. Do not forget to visit others and share your thoughts about their linked poems with them. Have a wonderfully poetic week ahead!
Hi Anmol. Thank you for sharing the work of a writer who is new to me. I really love a good ghazal and this is the first I have read which changes the repetitious phrase in the second half of the poem. That is definitely something I will try out in April.
There does not seem to be a time when poets have been able to fully divorce themselves from the socio-political climate in which they live - and certainly not at the present time. I do believe that human compassion outweighs evil deeds, but some days it is very hard to remember.
Thank you for introducing Kaifi Azmi's poetry to us this week, Anmol! I am looking forward to delight in his work!❤️
I love this poem and poet. Thank you for the introduction. I am walking into the village so will make the rounds when I get home. The sun is beckoning me forth.
Thank you for hosting, Anmol, and for broadening my poetic horizon. The echo of repetition in the ghazal is very effective. I also found P. Sainath’s ideas very interesting. I think it’s important for writers engage with topical themes and themes and subject matter but not all the time – political poetry can be overpowering.
@Kerry It's wonderful how there can be many different variations. That is something evolutionary when poetic forms transcend its language of origin, I guess. After reading your comment, I checked the Urdu/Hindustani original once again which follows the classic rules of repetition and rhyme. It's lovely how the translator made those changes and yet managed to keep the tone.
Well said — there may be times when it is possible to insulate the craft and the art from ongoing concerns. Perhaps that is also a form of politics expressed through an individual voice. Human compassion indeed outweighs all that is evil and unjust. Thanks for sharing, Kerry!
@Sanaa I am glad to know that, Sanaa! One of my favourites would be "Main DhunDta Hun Jise Wo Jahan Nahin Milta".
@Sherry I am glad that you liked the poem, Sherry. Looking forward to reading your linked verse. :-)
I dont think we can help, as poets, writing about the things we care passionately about. There is so much to address right now: climate change, mass shootings, unethical leadership, corruption, greed, devastation of the planet for corporate profit...............no end of concerns and they make their way into my poetry more often than not. I have seen that words do have the power to broaden peoples' perspectives. It is hard to write about flowers and sunshine as if nothing frightening is going on. I do try to balance my poems of angst with lighter fare though so as not to drive my readers away gnashing their teeth, lol.
It is as hot as SUMMER here right now. I am in a t shirt and sweating. It is beautiful, but alarming, in a rainforest, where there is no rain, no coastal fog, no drizzle. Yikes.
@Kim I understand and I agree that political poetry can be too much at times. What I think is that political expression can have so many dimensions — they can just be about the lived experiences without any overbearing ideology or opinions. Thanks for linking in, Kim.
@Sherry I love how you write about the issues that concern you, Sherry! That balance in the kind of poems that we write can be significant. I do hope that more people read about the most pressing issues of our time and broaden their perspective for collective action.
That heat is scary! It's pretty much the same here. Winters lasted for longer here and all of a sudden in a couple of weeks, it has transitioned to "summer" with temperatures already crossing 30C.
Thank your for sharing such a poem... I will go back and write a ghazal sometime, and the shift of the last word midway is something worth trying.
I am sharing a pantoun I wrote last week
The ghazal gave me chills, Anmol. Not just because the theme is so serious, but also because it is so timely. And I agree with what you shared about P. Sainath, today and always, writers and other artist should not forget the world they live in.
Thank you for hosting!
Evening, garden dwellers! Thanks, Anmol, for hosting, and for the compelling ghazal!
Thank you for the ghazal...I'm doing little but hack writing and activist writing these days, hope that will soon change, and am trying not to beat everyone over the head with glyphosate activism. There's plenty of it at my blog and Twitter page though.
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