Lahore based poet, editor and columnist, Afshan Shafi launched her first full-length poetry collection, ‘Quiet Women’ last month. Stocked at Readings, the collection is a unique all-female collaboration featuring the illustrations of acclaimed artists, Samya Arif (Pakistan), Marjan Baniasadi (Iran) and Ishita Basu Mallik (India).
TS Eliot award nominee and winner of the Forward Prize for Poetry, Vahni Capildeo termed ‘Quiet Women’ as one of the ‘new poetries emerging in the twenty-first century which are characterized by a ferocity that spans yet exceeds love and outrage, involvement and observation’.
‘Quiet Women’ is an exploration of form and linguistic artistry, propelled by a sense of creative freedom espoused by the surrealists and abstract artists. Inspired by the creations of both Eastern and Western female artists and writers this book is a tribute to women and the power of their collective voices. Afshan Shafi has studied English Literature and International Relations at The University of Buckingham and Webster Graduate School London. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Blackbox Manifold, Poetry Wales, Flag + Void, Luna Luna, Clinic, 3 am magazine, Ala Champ Magazine, and others. Her poems have also appeared in the anthologies, Smear (edited by Greta Bellamacina), The New River Press Yearbook and Halal if you hear me ( edited by Fatima Asghar and Salma Elhilo). Her debut chapbook of poems ‘Odd Circles’ was published by Readings (Pakistan) in 2014. For her work as a poet, she has been interviewed by Arte Tv (France) and Words Without Borders. As part of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan she has appeared on BBC (World), The Times (UK), and in The Economist’s culture magazine. She has also served as a poetry editor for “The Missing Slate” and is currently a senior contributing editor at Pakistan’s leading literary journal “The Aleph Review”. She also serves as an editor-in-chief for the online Pandemonium Journal, which is a platform for emerging creatives from Pakistan and abroad.
Inspiration to write this book:
This is my first full-length collection and is a tribute to the panoply of female artists that continue to inspire me. From the creations of Iranian artist Farideh Lashai to the work of lesser-known poets like Veronica Forrest, there is a rich engagement with the work of these female trailblazers in ‘Quiet Women’. What makes the book different is its collaborative nature. Each artist I have collaborated with in ‘Quiet Women’ possesses something unique to their perspective. Samya Arif’s illustrations are defined by their bold and stylized detail. She thinks in an opulent manner. Marjan Baniasadi, hails from Iran and has studied at the NCA and her paintings are elegant, deeply intelligent and beautiful. Ishita Basu who lives in Calcutta, India, is a poet as well as an artist and there is such a yearning and melancholy to her creations. Their art complements my writing seamlessly in the book.
On how ‘Quiet Women’ came together
‘Quiet Women came together over a period of two years, where my poems were being frequently accepted by European magazines for publication. I decided to put together a collection of these poems with some newer verses with the intention to collaborate with artists for the final product. The titular poem of the collection ‘Quiet Women’ deals with the notion of female silence and the policing of a women’s language and her personal choices. For one reason or the other, this notion of ‘quietude’ had been drilled into me from an early age, and as I grew as a writer I started questioning all kinds of enforced silences, which in turn led me to critically examining all kinds of oppressive practices aimed at ‘containing’ the very agency of a woman. ‘Quiet Women’ as a book, functions for me as a bridge across a myriad number of fears; these verses are bridges across patriarchal structures, restrictive artistic ideologies, and perhaps purely existential concerns
On the collaboration with artists for ‘Quiet Women’
I would say that I have been a student of the Surrealists my whole life, as I have often been drawn to the interplay of artist mediums, in which they reveled. Surreal output has always been concerned with juxtapositions and techniques like ‘collage’ and ‘frottage’, and indulgence in hybridity. For example, Surrealist collaborations include films based on poems, in the way that the filmmaker Man Ray adapted poems by Robert Desnos to his medium. Since my poems are often initiated by visual ephemera, and my imaginative focus is on delineating these visuals (triggered of course by emotion or artistic curiosity), I found collaboration with these artists to be a natural progression. Each artist was sent the poem to illustrate without any instructions, the idea was for there to be a fluidity of connection, one derived purely by imaginative means, and for the artworks to be instinctual and primal.
Creative influences and the impact of Surrealism on my work
Each poem in ‘Quiet Women’ is a tribute to the marginalised, whether that figure be that of a woman or an artist or poet. Each poem aims to counter reality with the dream and to re-engineer the accepted image of the creative as ‘outlier’. Whether in terms of stylistic experimentation, influence or tribute, this book aims to upset normative modes of thought and glorify one’s creative faculty. The founder of Surrealism, Andre Breton, spoke much of how the imagination is seen as a threat to all dimensions of order, similarly, much of my work is concerned with consistently upending language, mass-perspective and received ideas.
On why I enjoy poetry as a genre and as my chosen form
A poet often writes a poem as a postscript to an emotion. ‘High tragedy’ or ‘wondrous joy’ need not compel the writing of verse, it could be a retained sense of childlike wonder for say an owl or the precise engineering of a pistol. I feel that I write primarily to escape a powerful inborn reticence. In that vein these words by the great James Joyce encapsulate perfectly the retaliatory bent of my mind as it stitches a sentence together; ‘poetry even when apparently most fantastic is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, in a sense, against actuality’.
Delay in diagnosis can result in long term disability
An awareness seminar to highlight the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of arthritis was conducted at the Governor house Punjab, with joint collaboration of Arthritis Care Foundation and Scotmann Pharmaceuticals here in Lahore on Sunday 21 November.
The seminar was chaired by the honorable Governor of Punjab Chaudry Muhammad Sarwar, with awareness sessions conducted by chairperson Arthritis Care Foundation, Prof. Nighat Mir Ahmed, Co-chairperson Prof. Sumaira Farman Raja, and Co-chairperson and General Secretary, Prof. Muhammad Ahmed Saeed, and Dr. Saira E. A. Khan.
According to research done by the Arthritis Care Foundation with funding by World Health Organization, approximately 1 out of every 4th person is suffering from some kind of inflammatory joint disease. If not diagnosed early, these conditions can result in long-term disability, like Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. State of the art department of Rheumatology with international standards and equipment has been initiated at the Central Park Teaching Hospital, served by highly skilled and qualified specialists and staff. Central Park Teaching Hospital also provides free treatment services for deserving patients with the support of the Arthritis Care Foundation.
The seminar highlighted the role of Vitamin D, diet, and exercise for healthy bones and joints, arthritis in children, young and elderly, and the common causes of back pain.
Peng Salon celebrates Children’s Day, inviting Children Cancer patients for a Spa Day
This Children’s Day, Peng Salon & Spa, one of the leading hair & skin clinics in Karachi came up with a thoughtful initiative for children suffering from cancer. They invited these young cancer warriors from Indus Hospital for a Spa Day at the salon to mark Children’s Day celebrations. The children were treated with professional salon & spa services for a relaxing & refreshing experience.
Kaneez Fiza & Nafisa Dawood, Incharge at the Psychosocial department at Indus Hospital, who accompanied the children stated that the children were happy and it was an amazing experience for the children as well as their team at the Peng Salon. According to Kaneez, it was the first time for the children that they had visited a salon and they loved every bit of it and were overjoyed with the experience.
These children, fighting their battle against Cancer, are dreamers – full of innocence, hope and happiness. These little angels enjoyed the services of their choice at the salon and they were all smiles with the kind of pampering they were provided with. Services such as Haircut, hair styling, manicure, pedicure, makeup etc. were provided that made their day extra special.
After going through months of grueling treatment, giving these brave warriors such a day was a thoughtful initiative by Peng Salon. Arranging a Spa Day on Children’s Day for these young children to give them moments of joy and happiness was a wonderful idea by the team. Their aim to make these children feel valued, loved and special while helping them make cherishing memories.
Children were overwhelmed with the services they were provided and were all smiles as they left for the hospital again. Thumbs up to Peng Salon for initiating such a thoughtful activity to celebrate Children’s Day!
5 motivational thoughts to get you motivated by Canadian-Pakistani CEO, Muneeb Mushtaq
Canadian Pakistani CEO and motivational speaker Muneeb Mushtaq has given us many insightful and empowering thoughts over the years on the basis of his experiences as a young and dynamic businessman. The tech tycoon has been the founder of three tech business ventures and has managed to achieve so much at such a young age. And, he has given back his learning and knowledge by motivating, educating, and mentoring people to be successful in life.
Here are some motivational thoughts by the Forbes awarded entrepreneur Muneeb Mushtaq to get you motivated and beat the Monday blues:
- Get rid of the useless and negative clutter in your life
Muneeb Mushtaq suggests that it is important to subtract some of the unnecessary things from life to realise how insignificant they are. He advises us to get away from the insignificant and negative clutter in order to see an immediate positive impact. Worrying about what others think of us, trying to please everyone are some of the unimportant things we need to remove as soon as possible. According to him “When you remove what’s negative, it’ll add more space for what’s POSITIVE”!
- Don’t wait, just take the first step
The successful entrepreneur recommends us not to wait for other people or for the perfect moment to do what you have always wanted to do. There will never be a perfect time, situation or circumstances that would make you start working on your dreams. He advises us to just take the first step and get started.
- Failure is the opportunity to start over again, more wisely
The dynamic businessman is also of the view that failure provides an invaluable experience that makes it more likely to get success the next time around. He explains: “Till the time you don’t give up, the failures are just learning experiences, helping you to eventually succeed.”
- Respect the competition
Muneeb Mushtaq also shares this motivational thought that competition should be embraced and should be used as a driving force to push you further rather than fearing it. Competition is also a validation that there is a massive market and opportunity in the space to grow further.
- Change is important
Another motivating thought from Muneeb Mushtaq is that if you want change in life, then you should also be willing to change. He says, “If you are not willing to change, don’t expect your life to either”.
Follow Muneeb Mushtaq on Instagram @MuneebMushtaq for regular motivational posts.
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