‘If poetry and literature are happening, the human spirit is alive’

Published: February 13, 2011
Reading of Zulfikar Ghose's poetry organised by SAFMA.

Reading of Zulfikar Ghose's poetry organised by SAFMA.

A poetry reading session by eminent English-language Pakistani poet, novelist and essayist Zulfikar Ghose was held at SAFMA Auditorium in Islamabad on Saturday. The event was organised by the Literature Podium Islamabad.

Renowned poet Alamgir Hashmi chaired the session, with Pakistan Academy of Letters’ English Editor Khurram Khiraam Siddiqui hosting the first session.

Siddiqui said, “Zulfikar Ghose’s work has made its own place in the literary world. I always look up to him as a beacon of light, inspiring independence and intellectual freedom.”

Poet and artist Ilona Yusuf introduced Ghose and said that she would like to recommend three books recently published locally by Oxford University Press.

The first, “50 poems” contains an introduction by the author in which he describes the influences and vibrant atmosphere of new voices in poetry in the 6os, which inspired and shaped his writing.

The poems themselves celebrate the various places he has lived in during the course of his life as well as people he has come across.

His second book is a collection of personal and literary essays, “Beckett’s Company”. The third and most recent title is a collection of lecture and essays titled “In the Ring of Pure Light”.

Ghose said in any art form, the art is more important than the content. He then read his poems “The Other World”, “Silent Birds”, “The State of One’s Liver”, A poem on Kashmir, “Picnic in Jammu”, “Flying over India” and “A Dragonfly in the Sun” and “Nusrat”, which was written in memory of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Hashmi praised Ghose’s command over poetry reading.

He said, “If poetry and literature are happening in a society it means a lot is happening. It means also that the human spirit is alive and well.”

Zulfikar Ghose

Sialkot born Ghose is a noted surrealist writer who has taught at the University of Texas in Austin for over 40 years. His family migrated to England soon after partition in 1947, where he penned a number of novels and poetry collections while splitting time as a sports columnist for “The Observer”. In 1964, Ghose married Helena de la Fontaine, an artist from Brazil, whose homeland would provide the setting for six of his novels. He moved from London to the United States in 1969, where he has lived ever since.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2011.

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