A Poet From Karachi: Sahar Rizvi

One way to judge the character of a city, historians will tell you, is to look at the prose and poetry it has inspired. Karachi has its own share of wonderful English writers, some of which have won international fame and acknowledgment. I’ve read Kamila Shamsie and Bina Shah, but it was only recently that I discovered the name of Sahar Rizvi, a Karachi-born poet now based in Toronto, Ontario. The Ontario Public Appointments Secretariat profiles her as follows:

Sahar Rizvi, of Toronto, is an award-winning poet and published photographer with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Sociology from York University. In the past, Ms.Rizvi has volunteered as a speaker on behalf of the All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA) for children’s rights and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in the field of Humanities.


DesiLit magazine have more, but I discovered her via an interview she gave at Desicirtics to Amitabh Mitra who met Sahar while searching for English language poets for the poetry journal ‘A Hudson View‘. In question about how she managed to “assimilate” the influences for her poetry from different parts of Pakistan, she shared some interesting thoughts about Karachi:

Question:
Each city in Pakistan has its own beauty of literature and culture fiercely guarded by the writers themselves. How did you manage to indulge yourself, assimilating such great works from far flung corners of Pakistan?

My city, Karachi, can best be described as chaotic. The beauty is not so much aesthetic, as it is beautiful in character. The sheer multiplicity of people that occupy the expanse of the city is inspiring. You find such a great disharmony between the rich and poor, that beauty becomes a mere state of mind, and found where you choose to see it. There is definitely more contemporary writing to be found about the city itself by writers such as Kamila Shamsie. Yet they miss the mark, and the reading experience can only be appreciated by the privileged class of Pakistan. Therefore I allow myself to be influenced by the stories I hear, and newspaper reports I read or watch on the news, and they strike a chord with me. One cannot help by be inspired when you hear these stories and allow them to effect you, as a Pakistani. There is an inner need to write about these stories from your perspective, and that is what I do. I can’t say I am ‘fiercely guarded’ about my narrative indulgences, but [I am] deeply loyal to the stories I tell of home, they are personal and have moved me.

Indeed Karachi has lots of stories that are worth being being told, but its a dilemma just how of much of your own perspective to bring in. I’ve been attempting to write some fiction my self, and I can’t help shrug the urge to set my stories in Karachi, the Karachi I know and love despite all its upheavals. But then you wonder at times just how partial you can be in one go without sounding foolish, and by then you’ve already convinced your self that you’re not good enough and you’ll delete the 3 page word document you had been working on for the past few days.

Nevertheless, coming back to Sahar Rizvi, its most interesting knowing where, how and when writers and poets develop the influences that eventually shape their work. And even better to learn of poets and writers who have their origins in Pakistan and who actively narrate the stories they have from back home. I look forward to reading more from Sahar, and indeed, more from all our Karachi based writers and poets.

See Also: Some selected poems by Sahar Rizvi; ’78 Datsun, The Ganga’s Course and Shahtoos

21 Comments so far

  1. Huzefa L (unregistered) on October 17th, 2007 @ 7:30 am

    Her biography on boloji.com seems to indicate that her main connection with Pakistan is that she was born here. Apart from that, raised in Dubai, educated in Canada and going for her masters in Canada as well. When was she able to manage making Pakistan her own?

    I might have missed something, but she seems as Pakistani as Yasmin Ghauri.

    I am really not impressed by her poetry either. After reading the first few lines of Datsun 78′ (I was really excited at the title)… I wasn’t pulled in to read more.

    I’m not in a bad mood at all while writing this. I would like to close this comment by saying, poetry isn’t something that you can learn in creative writing class. Even if your content comes from your heart, if the raw talent isn’t there – your poetry just wont connect with the reader.

    I would certainly suggest, she do a little bit of soul searching to find out if she really is a poet and if she’s really writing about what she truely cares about.

    Poetry is an amalgamation of everything that results in an inability to slow the beating of the heart and stop the flow of words when you put pen to paper.

    IMHO. I’d like to read what others think.


  2. .!. (unregistered) on October 17th, 2007 @ 8:27 am

    rikhsay,truck wali poetry is far better than her crap.


  3. Sahar Rizvi (unregistered) on October 17th, 2007 @ 8:44 am

    Wow! Thanks Zainub! Why don’t we meet up in karachi this time, we can talk a whole bunch about poetry? Do e-mail me!

    Huzefa that’s hilarious! “As Pakistani as Yasmine Ghauri”! Why thank you for equating me to this drop dead gorgeous super model! I have visited Pakistan every year since I left in 1986,I also still have a home there. And if you’d care to have a chat with me, you’d find I was quite wholehearted Pakistani, and also humble and supportive of my fellow Pakistani artists and writers.

    HA! Thanks Zainub baby you’ve made my day!

    Love,
    S


  4. ALAM (unregistered) on October 17th, 2007 @ 8:56 am

    from one poem:

    >>>
    those bastard charsis drive faster
    their sclera webbed with red
    as they choke in cabins thick with homegrown smoke
    <

    wah ji wah, urdu mughalazzat Angrezi poem main, maza aa gia


  5. Huzefa L (unregistered) on October 17th, 2007 @ 10:51 am

    Hi Sahar,

    Good to see your response. I really didn’t mean to say you have no talent whatsoever, though it might have come out that way.

    Its great that you feel you’re wholeheartedly Pakistani, its a good start. But, I’d like to hear what you mean when you say that? What does it mean for you to be a Pakistani?

    Yasmine really is drop dead gorgeous isn’t she?! :)

    I’ve lived in Canada for a quarter of my life and I’m now inspired to write a poem about Tim Hortons.


  6. NOMAD (unregistered) on October 17th, 2007 @ 11:55 am

    sahar, don’t underestimate yourself.. you also look hot![not sure u sound hot too]. Do u have an account at hotornot.com?.. i wanna give u 8 out of 10..lemme add u on MSN so tht we can decide where can we meet in Karachi so tht i can tell u why didn’t i give u 10 out 10.


  7. UBD (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 3:48 am

    huzefa: u spent quarter of ur life in canada and inspired by tim hortons..and judging sahar rizvi love for pakistan. u can judge her poetry by any means but u can’t judge her or any other pakistani who are living abroad their love for country.
    Grow up huzefa life is more than tim hortons kah laddo(timbits)… cheers


  8. Huzefa L (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 5:58 am

    UBD: I never said I was inspired by Tim Hortons and I never judged anyone for their love of anything; just like I am not judging you for your love of passing quick comments on discussions without reading and thinking.

    Sahar: Let me know when you find out why you didn’t get a 10/10 :P

    @KMB Readers and Bloggers: I think it would be interesting if someone wrote about how transliteration has affected our generation. I feel like its really changed people’s english and their urdu. Although language is meant to evolve, the words we lived with before transliteration and email/chat jargon were delicate and beautiful, now they are very much like fast food.


  9. isheeta (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 6:57 am

    So let me get this straight…

    Ms Sahar Rizvi gets published in her beautiful Karachi – check.

    Ms Sahar Rizvi gets published and written about in an international poetry journal – check.

    Ms Sahar Rizvi is an award-winning poet – check.

    Ms Sahar Rizvi gets a rousing rendition from this site – check.

    Ms Sahar Rizvi has fans AND critics – check.

    (As per Huzefas comment: “Even if your content comes from your heart, if the raw talent isn’t there – your poetry just wont connect with the reader.”)

    I’d say she has done a pretty god job connecting to her readers. Case closed!


  10. UBD (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 7:08 am

    Huzefa: People judge u by ur action not by ur intention….


  11. Huzefa L (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 7:08 am

    @ISHEETA Case not closed. Please check you checks. Your logic is flawed.


  12. Huzefa L (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 7:16 am

    @UBD So you are saying you would like me to judge you for your love of passing quick comments on discussions without reading and thinking?


  13. Shabana (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 9:28 am

    What’s with the nasty comments here? She writes great poetry! And what’s with the “not Pakistani enough” rubbish? Why is all the bile concentrated in this corner of the blogosphere?


  14. Shabana (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 9:30 am

    What’s with the nasty comments here? She writes great poetry! And what’s with the “not Pakistani enough” rubbish? Why is all the bile concentrated in this corner of the blogosphere?


  15. darthvader (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 10:01 am

    so i thought i ‘d check out KMB pages , its been a while and wouldnt you know it ,,,complete waste of time . the 2 Rizvi’s appear to have more in common than just the last name ..both are [edited out: blatant personal attack].

    happy eid all

    cheers

    DV


  16. UBD (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 11:12 am

    Huzefa: if u want to judge then be my guest i dont care at all. but u still not getting my point here.i had a little objection with ur comments on this..

    “””””””””””””””””Her biography on boloji.com seems to indicate that her main connection with Pakistan is that she was born here. Apart from that, raised in Dubai, educated in Canada and going for her masters in Canada as well. When was she able to manage making Pakistan her own?
    I might have missed something, but she seems as Pakistani as Yasmin Ghauri.”””””””””””””””””””

    if u don’t like her peotry or don’t agree with my comment or anyone comment its totally alrite and its different issue. and pls don’t take any thing personal…. take a chill pill…..
    the summary of my point is, to judge someone nationality by their dress codes/language/religion/profession is not worth it. v already suffered alot by this type of mentality.


  17. Zainub (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 12:28 pm

    Okay guys and girls, before things get out of hand, let me set forth a friendly reminder for everyone: Metroblogging Karachi allows for discussions to take place; criticism, even if not constructive, is acceptable, provided it is made with a certain level of civility.

    If you’d not accuse some one with with what you’re jotting down behind the anonymity of the Internet then don’t bother submitting your personally attack laden comments here either (take note Darthwader). They’ll either be edited or even junked/deleted.

    We’ve kept a lenient comment policy in the past, allowing some of you guys to do as you please, but your rants are adversely effecting our reputation as a credible place for discussion, so please be aware that moderating will be a bit more strict then usual.

    And if you consistently give the impression of being a troll whose only purpose is to sound offensive and provoke reaction, then we know how to use the junk button too.

    Many of you, we realize, prefer remaining anonymous (using fake email IDs for instance) and while we respect your right to such privacy, we don’t give you in turn, the right to abuse this forum.

    I can inform you that as a team on a whole, the Karachi Metroblogging authors, are exploring ways and means to improve the quality of discussion on the Karachi Metroblogs, and we would like your co-operation in this respect. Please read the terms of service if you’re not sure about what constitutes as an acceptable response and what does not and try to keep the general tone of your comments civil, respectful and non-condescending. Thanks you!


  18. Huzefa L (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

    @DB I am still not getting your point.

    “the summary of my point is, to judge someone nationality by their dress codes/language/religion/profession is not worth it. v already suffered alot by this type of mentality.”

    I don’t see this as having occurred in any of my comments. I think its definitely okay to question (not judge, I haven’t done that) the nationality of a non-resident, who calls a city in which they don’t live their own – especially when their work and thoughts are made public. Sahar, here appreciated that and provided a good defense. I then acknowledged that and asked her for her opinion on nationality, to be able to better understand her creative influences.

    I was really not happy when you implied that I equate life to Timbits.


  19. UBD (unregistered) on October 18th, 2007 @ 7:59 pm

    I m so sorry if i hurt ur feeling by any means. may be i overreact.raat gahee baat gaheee.
    tc huzefa


  20. Maleeha (unregistered) on October 24th, 2007 @ 4:47 am

    I thought her poem was really poignant and beautiful. Haters can stuff it.


  21. Sahar Rizvi (unregistered) on October 27th, 2007 @ 4:19 pm

    Thanks for the support!

    Muneeza Shamsie seems to like my work too. Read further at http://www.newsline.com.pk/NewsOct2007/literature2007.htm. If you are interested, that is!

    Best,
    Sahar



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