Good poetry is a reflection of contemporary society. Every poet is influenced or affected by the social and political issues of his or her times. Poetry is a kind of dialogue about different prevalent issues.
Tahir Hanfi, a retired bureaucrat and Urdu poet from Pakistan, believes that people may forget a poet but they will always remember his or her good couplet or verses.
“One cannot be a true poet if he or she does not translate the contemporary times into emotions and then in poetic verses.”
Hanfi expressed these views while talking to Community after reciting his poetry in a mushaira organised in his honour by Pak Youth Society, a literary group of Pakistani expatriates, at Grand Qatar Palace Hotel.
The poetic symposium was also attended by prominent Doha-based Pakistani poets. The symposium was presided over by Hafiz Junaid Ahmed Sial, Community Welfare Attachee, Embassy of Pakistan. Qazi Muhammad Asghar, founder of Pak Youth Society, introduced Hanfi. He said: “Hanfi and I have been friends for a long time. He is a mature poet and gentle person. Being a learned man, his poetry really reflects the contemporary political and social issues of Pakistan. it is a great opportunity to have him here and listen from his second poetry book that he is going to launch in US soon.”
Hanfi visited Doha for two days during en route to US where he will launch his second anthology of poetry titled Gungi Hijrat (dumb migration). “The book contains my poetic works that highlight the dilemma and hardships faced by Pakistanis living overseas to earn bread and butter for their families,’ Hanfi said.
The poet, who served in the National Assembly of Pakistan as additional secretary for over three decades, said: “I have personally experienced being out of country as I lived in the US for some years for higher studies. Further, I have heard the stories of people going to other countries for better future and the kind of hardships they go through in their struggle.”
Explaining the subject matter of his new poetry book, Hanfi said: “I call it dumb or silent migration because the expatriates go through emotional, social and financial stress without expressing their feelings or fears. They kind of suffer in silence. They make no complaints and keep supporting their families back home.”
Hanfi, who hails from the garrison city of Rawalpindi, values the poetry by Pakistani expatriate poets more than the work done in the country. “The people who live outside Pakistan feel more strongly about what takes place around them. In many countries, they are not able to express their opinions in open and they have to recourse to poetic expression to vent out their emotions.”
Hanfi, whose first book Shehr-e-Narisa (Inexpressive City) was published in 2014, further said: “In modern times, the medium of expression has changed or improved. Nowadays, people have started posting their poetic works on Facebook. It has become more accessible. However, it is the time that will tell us how valuable a couplet is going to be. It is the time of 35 seconds. I think in every 35 seconds we see new happenings and news taking place around the globe. People learn something new and forget what they were hearing just 35 seconds ago. It is the poetry only that can fill in the gap and make people remember what happened few years ago.”
The poet, who has also worked as a journalist for a brief period in early 1980s’, was all praise for the gathering and poetic works. “It was a gathering of select people who were invited on a short notice. It was heartening for me to see that the audience carefully listened and thoroughly enjoyed every verse of poetry. The encouragement given to the poets was remarkable.
“This is my first visit to Doha and I have heard the city’s fame as a hub of Urdu poetry. My friends have long been asking me to come here. I am also fascinated by traditional dhows as a symbol of journey. I think the fascination got so strong that I will soon write something about the small boats.”
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