‘Ejaz Rahim’s poems present a happy fusion of experience and thought, and of the emotional and the cerebral. The whole range of knowledge and mythology, politics and philosophy, the ordinary and the unfamiliar are grist for his poetic mill, and resonate particularly in his later verse.’
‘The pictures in the album look like memoirs projecting their subjects in terms of their appearance and attitude, speech and style, and conviction and conduct besides, of course, their achievements in their respective fields.’
Ejaz Rahim is Pakistan’s avant-garde poet of English. His spouse Nazie Rahim, herself a competent writer of English with an illustrious academic background, has come out with a further selection of Ejaz Rahim’s verse, within a space of two years, the latter’s prolific poetic output being a justification for the phenomenon.
The best of Ejaz Rahim
According to Nazie Rahim, who has compiled and edited this edition, her earlier anthology, The Best of Ejaz Rahim, appearing two years ago, contained 101 poems. Since then Ejaz has produced four more books of verse viz., Carnage in December, With a Pinch of Levity, Sacred Thirsts, Secular Hungers, and Toledo to Toledo. Aside from these books, she has chosen some poems that he wrote earlier around the martyrdom of her brother Safwat Ghayur, a deeply committed senior police officer serving in KPK. She has thus chosen 74 poems from these sources to incorporate in the instant publication, with the following observations:
‘I see in Ejaz Rahim’s recent poems some significant developments. In his earlier phase, the poems were largely metaphor-based. He then went on to convey thoughts creatively through the use of symbols. His poetry is still essentially word-based but he is now able to go beyond expressing a philosophic thought to creating a philosophic theme. His poems present a happy fusion of experience and thought, and of the emotional and the cerebral. The whole range of knowledge and mythology, politics and philosophy, the ordinary and the unfamiliar are grist for his poetic mill, and resonate particularly in his later verse.’
She thinks that greater use of wit, irony and satirical allusions has lent many a new dimension to the poet’s art and creations. His best poems seem to assume an epic form and his themes focus on love, sacrifice, faith, and beauty besides violence, cruelty, and exploitation. He finds it difficult ‘to brush away ethical perspectives in both life and art’. Notwithstanding his quasi-didactic stance, Ejaz Rahim is alive, as perceived by Nazie Rahim, to ‘the danger of turning didactic in art with such a framework in his mind’.
Nazie suggests that love is an important theme in Ejaz’s verse. Human relationships, particularly family bonds, also recur as such in his verse. To her the anthology is like ‘a collection of flowers’ forming a bouquet emitting a sweet fragrance all around — it is a fragrance of love enthused with the sweetness and light of culture and reason, and the catholicity of self-abnegation.
Khurshid Rizvi is a reputed educationist, a distinguished scholar of oriental languages including Urdu, Persian and Arabic; and a leading Urdu poet and critic. He has to his credit a sizeable number of publications comprising collections of Urdu verse, critical essays, translations from Arabic and English into Urdu, critical editing of a 13th century Arabic manuscript Qalaid al-Juman and a detailed history of pre-Islamic Arabic literature titled Arabi Adab Qabl az Islam.
The present book is, as it were, a biographical album of some eminent literary figures with whom the author has had an intimate personal interaction over the past four decades. The pictures in the album look like memoirs projecting their subjects in terms of their appearance and attitude, speech and style, and conviction and conduct besides, of course, their achievements in their respective fields.
A sketch writer is supposed to be an ardent reader of the human psyche; he has a dual role to perform vis-à-vis his art as such, namely lively delineation of a character with a vigilant eye on his (character’s) strengths and infirmities as a human being. Khurshid Rizvi seems to have a natural penchant for this task. He has an observant eye, a probing mind and an empathic imagination which adequately qualifies him to be an adept portrayer of human character. His innate sophistication and propriety would restrain him from abashing or ridiculing his subjects. He does not idolize them either but presents them as normal human beings with their strong and weak points in equal measure.
The list of illustrious personages, both literary and aliterary, as catalogued in the book, includes names like Akhtar Shirani, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Dr Wazir Agha, Hakim Nayyar Wasti, Intizar Hussain, Nasir Kazmi, Majid Amjad, Munir Niazi, Shahzad Ahmad, Mushfiq Khawaja, Syed Muhammad Kazim, Ghulam Jilani Asghar, Irfan Siddiqui (an Indian Urdu poet), Akhtar Hussain Jafri, Ahmad Aqeel Rubi, Khalid Ahmad, Anwar Masood, Jamil Yusuf and a few others.
Profiles of Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Dr Wazir Agha, Intizar Hussain, Nasir Kazmi, Munir Niazi, Shahzad Ahmad, Mushfiq Khawaja, Ghulam Jilani Asghar, Akhtar Hussain Jafri, Khalid Ahmad, and Anwar Masood reflect Rizvi’s command of the language as well as his enviable empathic capability to recapitulate the visuals of a mood, situation or happening connected to his protagonist. Hopefully, the book would afford a gainful reading even to those readers who were not formally familiar with the characters sketched in it.
The best of Ejaz Rahim – A further Selection
Edited and compiled by: Nazie Rahim
Publisher: Dost Publications, St. 15, I-9/2, Islamabad
Pages: 194; Price: Rs.425/-
Author: Khurshid Rizvi
Publisher: Ilqa Publications,
12-K, Main Boulevard, Gulberg 2, Lahore
Pages: 234; Price: Rs.545/-