Young poet self-publishes Writing Words With Fire

Published: September 16, 2012

Kehar self-published his first book through a Goa-based publishing house. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

Kehar self-published his first book through a Goa-based publishing house. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS
Kehar self-published his first book through a Goa-based publishing house. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Taha Kehar began writing poetry when he was just 15 years old. Now, at the age of 20, Kehar has published an anthology of his poems titled Writing Words With Fire while simultaneously pursuing a law degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). To celebrate an occasion that Kehar described as “an attempt to revive poetry” in Pakistan, a small crowd gathered at T2F last week to welcome the young writer’s first published work.

“I wouldn’t let ideas gestate for too long,” he told the audience, adding that he is a “moody writer”. “If there is a creative burst, I write.” His poems focus primarily on imagery, but the collection is divided into two parts; the first talks about nature and the second about unpleasant realities. “I have a keen interest in politics,” Kehar said, when asked about the dark, political verses in his poem “Aristocratic Pride”. He describes the collection as one “that puts a match to a series of social and political themes”.

“When I’m writing poetry, I’m wearing many hats; I am sceptical, critical and I edit my work,” confessed Kehar, who like many other creative minds, is most critical of his own writing.

Kehar’s book has been published by Goa-based publishing house CinnamonTeal Publishing, a solution for small authors who are interested in self-publishing. “I desperately wanted to have the book published in Pakistan,” Kehar admitted. “But I was told [by local publishers] there ‘is no market for it’.” He lamented that while Pakistan boasts an impressive number of poets, it does not recognise their efforts. He also shared at the end that despite the reluctance shown by local publishing houses — which he did not wish to name — praise for his writing came from none other than the renowned Bapsi Sidhwa, who once said to Kehar, “I can tell that you are good.”

Kehar is currently trying to bring his published work to Pakistan, but said that shipping the books is proving to be a challenge. “Bureaucracy works in strange ways. It is difficult to bring something from India [for distribution] — the book is being inspected for bombs!”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Narisa iftikhar
    Sep 16, 2012 - 11:39PM

    It is actually quite interesting, how a substantial writer cannot find a publisher because there is simply “no market” whereas books such as “twilight” and “fifty shades of grey” do not face problems of such sort. this is actually a very sad sad situation.

    Recommend

  • Saad Durrani
    Sep 17, 2012 - 1:33AM

    I previously worked with a publishing house in Karachi, and I know how a publisher frowns when it has to reject a good manuscript only because of the limited scope in the market. The raw material of printing has gone up many folds and it is not the best time to venture into new markets. Furthermore, the trend in international market for poetry is going down as well.

    I would suggest that the author should try talking about distribution via bigger bookshops. They can get here quicker.

    Recommend

  • Saad Durrani
    Sep 17, 2012 - 1:40AM

    @Narisa iftikhar:
    Who said that Twilight and Fifty Shades… did not have trouble? Stephenie Mayer had to knock on more than a dozen doors before getting her book published. Fifty Shades was an ebook which was later picked by a traditional publisher when it went viral.

    Publishers are humans and they do make mistake in judging potential. Getting yourself published is a tricky business which involves a lot of patience.

    Recommend

  • Sara
    Sep 17, 2012 - 5:07AM

    I think this is a brilliant initiative. Unique and original. I was informed about this book some weeks ago when I received an invite to the event. Some amount of Facebook searching led me to the fan page of the book where some extracts of the book can be found. They are so beautifully written and reveal such spectacular ideas that you are compelled to feel many conflicting emotions. They say self-publishing lessens the value of a book. But I don’t see this here. Unlike some works by young self-published authors, Kehar seems sensible and mature in his approach to writing.. Would love to read more.
    Warm Regards,
    Sara

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  • Azfar Sulaiman
    Sep 20, 2012 - 4:56PM

    Nice initiative. We often do not find this sphere of poetry being explored, particularly by the Pakistani youth. We need to keep the flame of this art alive. Taha has done quite well, even if he couldn’t find a publisher in Pakistan. Greatly looking forward to revival of poetry and literature.

    Recommend

  • Drey
    Oct 8, 2012 - 4:26PM

    Great Job. Keep it up! For all the poetry lovers, there is something fresh and new i accidently came across on fb. Worth a read, take a look:

    http://www.facebook.com/?sk=welcome#!/pages/The-Silent-Poet/434209986636806?fref=ts

    Recommend

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