September 24, 2012

links to two of my poems

i am posting links to two of my poems. from 'swat' is an excerpt from the latter, which is a long poem divided into five sections, four of which were published in the journal of commonwealth writing's special issue: beyond geography: literature, politics and violence in pakistan. 

here is the excerpt: from 'swat'

the second poem is from an online journal, mahmag magazine of arts and humanities. it's not a new poem, having been written in 2001, but it was never published. i am beginning to realise that i have written some poems which are a direct response to political events after all! 

here is the poem: 9/11

this issue of mah mag is edited by shadab hashmi, who wrote the celebrated collection of poems the baker of tarifa, which won the 2011 san diego book award for poetry.

September 20, 2012

the world of writing

it's not every day that one reads a good, in-depth interview. so when i read kimberly nagy's interview of pakistani poet waqas khwaja, who worked as translation editor as well as contributing translator of a ground breaking anthology of modern pakistani poetry (modern poetry of pakistan), published last year by dalkey press, i was completely absorbed.

khwaja describes the niceties of translation and the raison d'etre to which he subscribed when translating himself as well as working with his group of translators. the published anthology is a collection of poems in several languages, all spoken in pakistan. the translation project itself was a major undertaking, the editor taking every possible step to remain faithful to certain basic precepts such as syntax, even if grammatical rules could not be maintained. beyond this he realised that translation is a delicate art, in which it's necessary to preserve the music and the meaning of the poem.

in accordance with the modern approach to translation (see, he often used several translators, after which he would edit based on his own and other experienced readers' views.

so far i've made it appear that the interview is about translation. but it isn't confined to that, it spans khwaja's career, as well as his work as a poet. 

click here to read the interview: interview of waqas khwaja

September 17, 2012

revisiting blind embossing

i learned about blind embossing during my first collagraph workshop, where it was used to 'test' the surface and textures of the new plate. at that time, i didn't see very much use for it, although i did finish one print by going over it with graphite rubbing. the technique called to mind embossing on paper using brass stencils, which i'd taught in my craft workshops. 

then i made a blind embossing of an old plate several years ago. it didn't quite turn out as a blind embossing, as some of the areas, which were quite deep, had retained ink despite what i thought was a thorough cleaning. that gave me the idea for the print that i made last week, illustrated below.

this print is a lino block which i have used repeatedly on silk and cotton lampshades, in conjunction with tea dyeing and sometimes paint washes. it's a tree of life motif, but it also illustrates one of my favourite quranic verses (you will find the text below, in translation by professor ahmed ali). so i've used it sometimes in conjuction with text, and sometimes simply as a tree of life. here, i used it on paper.

as you can see, the cuts have retained a certain amount of ink, so there are white areas and other areas which have printed brown. i rather liked the effect, and managed to get two good copies. the block was run through the press using pre-soaked somerset paper.

here is the english translation:'God is the light of the heavens and the earth. The semblance of His light is that of a niche in which is a lamp, the flame within a glass, the glass a glittering star as it were, lit with the oil of a blessed tree, the olive, neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil appears to light up even though fire touches it not, - light upon light.'