KARACHI: In her foreword for Emaad S. Rahim’s allegorical book of poetry ‘The Cave’, novelist Sara Suleri Goodyear writes that “I trust he will find the audience his talent richly deserves.” But the theatrical rendition of his poetry at his book launch on Thursday night was a bit too high brow for many of the attendees.
Rahim’s book was launched by Markings Publishing at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, and he managed to bring in Khalid Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood, Sahira and Rahat Kazmi to the event for the performance. “Poetry can be tough to follow,” admits Rahim. “But even if you look at Shakespeare or Marlowe’s poetry removed from the stage performance it is enchanting but it is only when you enact it does it come to life,” he said, explaining why he had chosen to have a theatrical performance. Markings publisher Kiran Aman enthused, “Every line of the book resonated with me and I really feel that this work will go international.”
The Cave is the first of three volumes of book length narrative poetry that explores the human condition by tracing the journey of a young wealthy merchant in the 16th century as he travels through Istanbul in an effort to diffuse his own pain by absorbing himself in the tales of sorrow of others. “The whole purpose is to be able to look at the human condition in sum,” spoke Rahim. “I wrote this as my contribution towards understanding the human condition and for people to read to learn, to be entertained as well as reflect instead of seeking instant gratification.”
The director of the production, Saba Sayeed, enacted some of the scenes as depicted in the book itself. “We wanted to enact the message of the book in a visual medium. None of the scenes selected were arbitrary, but we just couldn’t perform some scenes due to logistics,” she said. However, the poor audio at the event led to the audience straining to hear what was being said.
Two scenes from the rendition managed to stand out because of the sheer strength of its performers: one with a German traveller played by Faraz Lodhi, and the other that saw the Devil, played by Vajdaan, shrivels under God’s light. What struck one was how the text and performance pivoted on faith. Rahim readily admits to this. “I write along Middle Eastern themes specifically to celebrate and remind us that the Islamic civilisation is worthy of celebration for its scale of achievements,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2012.
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