The Notes of a New Harp: Re-Carving the self in Contemporary Pakistani Poetry in English

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Asma Mansoor


According to Taufiq Rafat, poetry emanates from the very land in which it is written. The cultural substratum that gives anchorage to its roots remains a viable source from which it gains nourishment and defines the Self of the poet. In Pakistan’s post-colonial spectrum, acculturation and the assimilation has generated poetry that presents the indigenous poetic traditions gelled with the traditions found in English poetry and a redefined notion of identity. This modified literary habitat features innovative verbal expressions as well as a vibrant cultivation of avant-garde modes of expression. Pakistani poetry in English offers a variety of ideas and influences, both indigenous and foreign to cosset and frolic with each other. These influences include the impact of the literary trends in Urdu; the pre- and post-Independence history and the contemporary politics of the country that have shaped its present and are continuing to chisel its future. This article aims at exploring the various patterns prevalent in Pakistani poetry in English. The author of this article would be analyzing some poems by eminent Pakistani poets including Taufiq Rafat, Alamgir Hashmi, Illona Yusuaf etc to highlight a cornucopia of patterns as well as the literary and cultural paradigms within which they develop.

Article Details

Refereed Articles (Humanities)
Author Biography

Asma Mansoor, International Islamic University, Islamabad

Being an only child, I have always found delightful company in the parallel dimension called 'Books'. My most vivid memories include lying in the sun, holding on to a thick volume of Enid Blyton's stories which I had to finish in a day because of a bet I had with a friend about who reads faster. In addition to the delight of winning the bet, I also enjoyed living in Tara, walking on the grounds of Mansfield Park and accompanying Ibn-e-Insha to China. I have cried while David Copperfield suffered and was enthralled as shared Pitras Bukhari's bumpy ride on his friend's antediluvian bicycle. This was a passion that was nurtured by my schoolteachers at Beaconhouse Public School, Margallah Campus, where they also painstakingly honed my writing skills. It was this penchant for literature that impelled me to pursue a Masters degree in English Literature from the Punjab University, where I attained an overall second position in its annual examination. My love affair with the subject, however, did not end there as I proceeded to impart it to the students who were eager to explore the world of English Literature. For this reason, I chose teaching as a profession and am currently serving as a Lecturer in the Department of English at the Female Campus of the International Islamic University, Islamabad. Here, I am also the In-charge of the English Literary Society that encourages its member students to read and write as much as possible and to organize extra and co-curricular activities to bring out their latent talents. For me Literature has always been a mirror that reflects the diadem of life in all its prismatic hues.