The leaking air-conditioning pipes and echoing sound systems failed to stop literature enthusiasts from enjoying a session celebrating English-language Pakistani poets.
“Springtime Voices: Poetry in English” kicked off with poets reading their own work, along with the work of others, and eventually concluded outside the hall with the poets sitting cross-legged on the brick floor, listening to amateur poets read their work under cell phone lights.
Topics in the session, moderated by Ilona Yousaf, ranged from ‘forced feminism’, to the effects of terrorism on daily lives, and memories becoming dust. It included poets from across Pakistan — Harris Khalique, Risham Amjad, Azka Khan, Waqas Naeem and Mina Malik Hussain.
Amjad read her poem Reluctant Feminism, highlighting the struggle of a girl fighting stereotypes and contrastingly being part of the same cycle that promotes and strengthens the beliefs of a patriarchal society.
Khan read her poem in which she tried to paint the picture of a mother trying to protect her child from terrorism and extremism. Harris Khalique took the tone forward by reading his piece on the brutality and reality of violence and how it has affected our lives. Waqas Naeem later read his poem, Death by Rejected Visa Application, before the session was disrupted by a leaking air-conditioning pipe. The panel then shifted the session outside the hall. The disruption turned out to be an opportunity for amateur poets, who seized the opportunity to read their work to a lauding audience.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2016.
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