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Quiet Women: on Surrealism, Beauty and the Female Voice

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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’.

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In Conversation with Dr. Shahzad of Dental Aesthetics

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Doctor Shahzad of Dental Aesthetics is one of the best dentists in Lahore who aims to provide his patients’ solutions with minimum invasive dentistry for the best possible results. Doctor Shahzad Mirza did his master’s in Aesthetic Dentistry from Kings College London and his father who was also a dentist was the dean of Fatima Memorial Hospital, founded this business. Working in the field for more than four decades has made their dental clinic equipped with world-class trained specialists, leading-edge technology, and wonderful support staff, who are committed to providing the best professional services.

We visited his clinic in DHA Y block and to our surprise, they not only provide the latest dental treatments but also facial aesthetic and cosmetic services. So, don’t be fooled by “dental” as they provide a plethora of services and those too are vast and outclass.

 

How did you get into this field?

My father has been my inspiration, he is the most influential person in me being a dentist. He has been my teacher, mentor, and guide, not just for me but also for a lot of dentists in Pakistan and abroad. Ever since I started practicing, I enjoy helping my patients smile and eat with ease.

 

How do you provide instructions to patients on dental hygiene?

Instructions to patients are given mostly by demonstrating tooth brushing techniques and showing them how to floss in order to maintain good oral hygiene. We always make sure we are in good communication with the patient for the betterment of their oral health. We also advise them tips and habits they should adopt to improve the oral hygiene

Where did you get your certifications from?

I have my bachelor’s degree from de’Montmorency College of dentistry and post-grad from Kings College London in Advanced Aesthetic dentistry.

What treatments do you offer?

We are a team of specialist providing all dental treatments we offer dental implants for missing teeth, smile makeover to improve smiles, braces to improve crooked or crowded teeth, root canal treatment to save a tooth, scaling to clean the plaque, teeth whitening for a brighter smile, wisdom tooth extraction as well as gum disease treatment.

What are the biggest opportunities and challenges for practice right now?

The biggest challenge is to stay on top of your game. Keeping up to date with dental equipment and technology is the core of success for today’s dental practices. Patients today are highly informed. They demand quality services. So, it is important to have specialized equipment and technology more now than ever before.

As people are becoming aware of oral health and its importance. We are seeing more people attending dentists and more importantly, dentistry is now been recognized as a cosmetic and aesthetic treatment.

What do you do for fun?

Dentists are happy fun-loving people too. I enjoy traveling around the world for sightseeing and attending conferences. I also play cricket and golf. I enjoy spending quality time with my family and friends.

Being a doctor treating patients, how have you been able to fairly balance work and friends/family?

Work-life balance is difficult in any profession but I am lucky to have a team of professionals who are working with me on the practice. I can have flexible hours too but my team helps me in finding time for my family and friends.

Balancing work and daily family life is an ongoing challenge but passion for work especially creating smiles for my patients makes it fun and helps in fulfilling my goals. Thinking innovatively and a focused vision has helped my dental practice to be successful.

How toothpaste tubes are being portrayed as magic wands? Can toothpastes really cure bleeding gums, sensitivity, and toothache?

I believe toothpaste is being portrayed as a magic wand that can fix dental issues, but the reality is that it’s not true. All the dental issues and treatment options are to be diagnosed and advised respectively by the dentist and the specialist.

If the problem is not looked at by the dentist and magic wands are used to get any relief, it would make the issues worse. Instead of trying home remedies, I would always advise getting help from a professional.

Dentistry is not expensive neglect is.

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The New Normal Sets The New Backdrop For E-Commerce

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The Covid 19 pandemic that started in the beginning of this year has changed and introduced many ideas worldwide. Many new terminologies with their technical meaning are also becoming the components of our lives. The new normal has brought a lot that is going to change the course of our economic system. More relying on digital space this new phase of economy called e commerce never bloomed like it did in last six months.

Pakistan has also emerged as a country which is finding new ways for its shopping and discount lover citizens to get connected to their favourite brands. Loot Sale, a Pakistan based eCommerce startup  is a fashion marketplace listing original branded products aiming to bridge the gap between the consumers’ want of constant discounts and retailers’ need for fast inventory turn-over. Loot Sale has secured seed capital from Light Speed Ventures, a multi-strategy fund focused on the early-stage tech ventures. 

The brands’ motto, “Pay Less, Shop More,” is conveyed to the 220 million audience of the 5th largest nation of the world: everything on www.loot.sale is at a discount, All Day, Every Day.

“Loot Sale goal is to build as a customer centric brand, providing original products, offering price-match guarantee and no-questions asked return policy. The website (www.loot.sale) has launched with an inventory of over 400,000 units, and stock value of almost one billion rupees, said Malik Asad, the CEO Loot Sale.”

A brand awareness campaign across all mediums has already kicked off nationwide, he added.

With the official launch on 10.10.2020, Loot Sale has already partnered with over 75 fashion brands including BTW, Cross Stitch, Hop Scotch, Hush Puppies, LimeLight, Maria.B, Nishat, Orient, Stylo, The Linen Co, Zareen by Sapphire, just to name a few. The team forecasted to list over 20 lac products showcasing 150 brands by the end of December 2020.

The social platforms of the brands are:

www.instagram.com/loot.sale

www.facebook.com/lootsaleofficial

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Bayaan Releases ‘Teri Tasveer’ Music Video

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Following the release of their debut album “Suno”, Bayaan is ecstatic to release the music video of ‘Teri Tasveer’, a melancholic ballad from the album. ‘Teri Tasveer’ is the first song from Bayaan that has crossed the one million views mark on YouTube and has garnered the band global visibility to thousands of new listeners.

Bayaan teamed up with Director Hamza Bin Tahir and Cinematographer Awais Gohar for the third time to produce this music video. The band has luckily found individuals who understand their music and present concepts that keep everyone interested throughout. Like the band said, “we are lucky to have found this dream team combo.” Their previous work with Bayaan includes music videos for ‘Khel Tamasha’ and ‘Hum Nadaan’, two songs from their previous collection called ‘4 Saal’. The Art Direction and Production Design is done by Hashim Ali who did a brilliant job in pulling off the Victorian-era looks for the video.

 

Given the song’s wide acclaim, it is their most anticipated music video to date after Covid-19 put a hold on all music related activities, just like it did for hundreds of other musicians and artists globally.

 

While talking about ‘Teri Tasveer’, Asfar told The Daily Paperazzi, “There are some songs that we plan beforehand, whereas there are songs that just fall together piece by piece, this was the case with ‘Teri Tasveer’. From the initial humming to the first few lyrics, it all just happened during a jam session and it felt like a gift from God that all of us put together because we were sure that it would reach a lot of people.”

Similarly, while talking about the music video, the band said, “It is no doubt that the song is very special to each and every member as everybody interprets it differently, allowing the listeners to do the same. The idea with the video was to let the listener feel the purity of the message which was done by the acting, the set design, the production and the nostalgic melancholic analog vibe going on in the video. All of it had to be real for us. Although we were skeptical about how we would pull this off; how it will look visually as well. Since we wanted it to be very real, we are lucky that the final product looked exactly how we imagined it to be. We are glad how this turned out and we are hopeful that our listeners would love it too and experience this journey with us.”

 

The album – a collection of 9 tracks that is a labour of love for the quintet – is a familiar (and hopefully welcome) territory for fans of the band, featuring atmospheric build-ups, meaningful lyrics and melodies that are soulful and catchy. Through this album, they pay homage to the band’s collective inspirations and influences while staying distinctly Bayaan.

 

 

 

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