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Nasreen’s poetry wins her standing ovation

June 24, 2005

ISLAMABAD, June 23: Celebrated Punjabi (and Urdu) poet Nasreen Anjum Bhatti read her poems at the Islamabad Cultural Forum here on Wednesday, winning a standing ovation from the participants. She also read some Urdu poems. Her poetry is always enjoyable because she directly addresses her readers invoking girlish sentiments usual to children and those in their teens.

Her poetry is delicate. She borrows images from the Punjabi mythical characters and folklore to establish immediate rapport, and there are in them profuse and haunting jingles.

Renowned short story writer Mansha Yad, who chaired the event held at the TVO auditorium, read an essay in which he gave an overview of Nasreen Bhatti’s poetry.

She had captured the perplexities of maturing women entering a larger world as she outgrew her childhood. But the mystifying experience of innocence has stayed with them and yet they were lost in the complex relationship with friends, sisters, and mother, he observed.

She speaks of the puzzling experience of motherhood that young women go through, asking sordid questions as to why their mothers had given them birth and why they could not conceive them as a male child. Mansha Yad said Nasreen had explored these mysteries in impressive, magical, lyrical sweet verses.

He said 25 years ago he had purchased two copies of Nasreen’s Punjabi poetry collection Neel Karaiyan Neelkan italics (Body bruises that have festered). The title was borrowed from Mirza Sahiban’s famous poetic line Main neel karaiyan neelkan, mera tan man neelo neel/Main saude keetan valan dey tey rakhe nain vakeel.

Later Mansha received a copy of her Urdu poetry collection Ban Bas (choosing a life of recluse) as gift. Mansha said Nasreen’s work had convinced him that writing poetry entailed more than rhymes, rhythms and meters.

Politician Rasul Bukhsh Palejo said Nasreen’s poetry had fascinated him since a long time. He said she expressed the longing of the downtrodden rural women, unable to meet the daily needs of their children.

The rural woman’s difficulty is to provide for her family but the resources to meet that obligations were few indeed.

Nasreen’s poetry echoed the tribulations of Sindh’s pastoral world and therefore her poems would be translated in Palejo’s Sindhi magazine.— Jonaid Iqbal