The Damage is Ours Alone – A Poem by Zabirah Fazili

There are no suitable words to describe or introduce Zabirah Fazili’s latest poem. Within such verses one finds an utterance that every Kashmiri mother, tending to her family, has brought to her lips—with the ringing of gunfire in the horizon or an eerie silence ushered in by the passing of daylight. That utterance is one tragically guided by an intuition that Kashmiri mothers have—a sixth sense that connects them to those who they love with devotion, as if their spirits lived within those loved ones. In interviews and testimonials by many mothers of Kashmir, when they narrate the happenings of a horror that has left an open wound in their hearts and memory, they often recall the day when trauma took shape due to a horrific event—and they refer to something odd, an ominous sign, or some glitch in their quotidian space on that fateful day of irremediable grief and pain. In her poem, the young poet captures—within that one utterance and the verses that contain it—an intuition that defies logic and resides in the presentiment of the mothers, spouses, siblings, daughters, and women of Kashmir who over decades of horrors have developed the ability to smell death in the air. That ability takes heartbreak and grief to abysmal depths where language fails to convey an understanding. It is here that Zabirah’s poetry succeeds to transmit such a heartbreak and grief through her verses because they are relatable to far too many Kashmiris confined, among other prisons, to the prison of silence.

From My Memory to Her Heart – A Poem by Khawar Khan Achakzai

On August 5, 2019, Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution were revoked to enforce the status of Union Territory on the state of Jammu and Kashmir without democratic consent from the Kashmiri people. As a measure to quell expected upheaval, the internet, TV channels, mobile telephony, landlines, press, public transport and air travel were taken out of circulation by government order while more Indian troops were moved into the Himalayan territory. In the pitch drop silence of indefinite siege, a poet wrote from his memory to “her heart” not knowing when his message would get across, while even houses from adjacent neighborhoods were left without communication with one another. This poem by Khawar Khan Achakzai is a reminder-in-verse of that time still fresh in the collective memory of Kashmir and its peoples, and a testament to the fact that no lockdown, siege or territory-wide curfew can keep a longing Kashmiri heart from beating.

Kashmiri Haecceity — A Poem by Saba Zahoor

Saba Zahoor’s poem on Kashmir presents her place of origin as existing outside of a human-made time. Through her verses, the poet traverses multiple histories and addresses Kashmir as a being, an entity that has endured the heavy burdens of history. In that, Kashmir is a woman, an old woman who does not break, but withers slowly into inexistence or unbeing.

Everything I Wish You Had Told Me — A Poem by Jagdeep Raina

From the present time and within the terrain of scattered memory, artist Jagdeep Raina presents a poem that digs into a history of Kashmir beyond epochs, eras, regimes, rules, governorates, kingdoms and states. It is past all these that Raina retrieves a poetic voice, one that eludes fragmented human-made time and the constructs of its history, to give way to a Kashmiri being still on an unending quest. Fragmented time, fragmented geographies, fragmented histories, and the burdens they unleash on the present are in direct contrast with the continuity that these verses lend to the poetic voice of such a Kashmiri being as it traverses centuries and generations.

The Last Words of a Dying Moon — Two Ghazals by Sameem Wani

A young and avid writer of ghazals, Sameem Wani shares two of his latest from a wider collection. These two arrive in the English language, yet have Kashmir inscribed deep within their melancholy.

Portrait of Me as a Ghost – Three Poems by Edward Elizabeth

Portrait of Me as a Ghost – Three Poems by Edward Elizabeth

All the way from Benin City, Edward Elizabeth brings us three poems that reflect pain and perseverance through the depths of an anguish past yet fresh in the mind and latent in the soul. A young poet engaging with essential questions of life and death, destruction and creation, survival and healing, Elizabeth’s verses do not shy away from expressing a vulnerability felt far and wide by more than enough people around the world. These three poems were submitted before the times of global pandemic and perhaps serve to remind us that adversity is inherently linked to human life, while vulnerability is best conveyed as strength in the courage to write such verses.

Madhosh Balhami: The Poet of Perseverance (Documentary Series) — by Irfan Dar and Gowhar Farooq

Madhosh Balhami: The Poet of Perseverance (Documentary Series) — by Irfan Dar and Gowhar Farooq

On 15 March 2018, Madhosh Balhami lost his house and thirty years of written poetry to a fire in the middle of a gun battle between Indian soldiers and rebels. Producers and directors Irfan Dar and Gowhar Farooq have come up with a short documentary series on Kashmiri poetry titled “Madhosh Balhami: The Poet of Perseverance”. Here is an updated page with each of the episodes as they are released. In the first episode, Ghulam Muhammad Bhat (Madhosh Balhami) reminisces about “his early education and the trauma of losing his parents at a young age.” Balhami also revisits the “moment when he took to poetry to express his inner anguish” and recites one of his poems (with English subtitles). Camera by Mohammad Irfan Dar and translation by Hanan Zaffar. Additional links are included to familiarize readers and viewers with Madhosh Balhami’s story and greater work. All media embedded directly from original sources.

An Unconventional Poem for Easter or Quite Simply a Masterclass on How to Recite Poetry

An Unconventional Poem for Easter or Quite Simply a Masterclass on How to Recite Poetry

We present a poem that versifies the struggle and rise of those confined to death, disregard and abandonment while striving to survive. The poem as a song of individual and female resilience for the ages is presented here to commemorate the rise of a brown Middle Eastern man and his enduring legacy as the defender of the poor, the healer of the sick and the rescuer of the downtrodden.

Given that the poem ventures far beyond this particular cultural and religious context, it is also presented here quite simply as a perfect example of recitation by its poet. In the current predicament of our times, this poem builds upon the symbolic importance that it already holds the world over. This particular recitation affirms that importance in inspiring and uplifting while also providing solace to those who celebrate its verses, especially in times of great adversity.

I write dissent, they read hatred — by Bupinder Singh

I write dissent, they read hatred — by Bupinder Singh

Educator and poet Bupinder SIngh presents a timely poem on dissent and resistance and how these are misrepresented such that “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing” (as Malcolm X once famously said).

My Body is a Nation — Three Poems by Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan

My Body is a Nation — Three Poems by Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan

Medical-student-by-day and poet-and-writer-by-night Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan presents three poems that rise from the embodied soul and meditate on existence in verses that ride on simplicity yet convey the greater cultural complexity of the young Nigerian poet’s musings.

The Sky of My Memories is Overcast — Two Poems by Syed Rabia Bukhari

The Sky of My Memories is Overcast — Two Poems by Syed Rabia Bukhari

Syed Rabia Bukhari presents two of her poems that dig deep into vast human preoccupations such as memory, forgetfulness, loss and grief, with all of these congealing into a trace of the human experience that reflects perseverance in life and in living. What it means to be alive and more importantly what it means to have lived is perhaps best conveyed through the verses in these two poems.

Je sanglote toutes les journées — Two Poems by Henry Bladon

Je sanglote toutes les journées — Two Poems by Henry Bladon

All the way from Somerset (UK), Henry Bladon brings us two poems, “The Modernist Tea Shop” and “In the Moroccan Bookshop.” Both poems are set in enclosed spaces where books, readings, and writing converge to locate both the poet and the reader in ways that it is hard to tell them apart.

This Silence is a Lie — Three Poems by Marriah Nayeem

This Silence is a Lie — Three Poems by Marriah Nayeem

On this day commemorating Kashmiri Women’s Resistance, young poet and research scholar Marriah Nayeem brings us three poems like glimpses of life in Kashmir captured in the verses of a polyphonic poetic voice that traverses multiple generations of women. When Mikhail Bakhtin refers to “heteroglossia” as the “coexistence of varieties” and variations in a “diversity of voices, styles of discourse, or points of view” within a “singular linguistic code” (i.e. the literary work itself), one is compelled to think of the many ways in which Kashmiri women as young as adolescent girls and young women in their twenties are pushed towards an enduring wisdom attributed to the generation of their mothers and grandmothers. Such an occurrence is due, perhaps, to the harsh realities and struggles that encroach upon life in Kashmir, where children grow up without an experience of childhood attributed to other places around the world that are not struck by conflict and war.

I Am Shahid — A Poem by Babra Sharief

I Am Shahid — A Poem by Babra Sharief

Babra Sharief’s poem ties a knot between the grief of the most recognized Kashmiri poet in contemporary times and the grief found in the poetic voice of her verses. Such a poetic unfolding retrieves the sense of loss that Agha Shahid Ali mourned in many of his poems, thereby making such a lament the inheritance of the young poet and her readers, particularly the Kashmiri ones.

Knowledge is like Teher.
A handful of cooked rice
a humble offering
to ward off the grief
from an entire century.
Whosoever receives Teher
does so with blessings
and well wishes.
Today the T in Teher
is the T in Taaleem
just as the K in Kashmir
is the K in your name.
From Teōtīhuacān to Tral
we make a humble offering.

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