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.