Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Poetry Event Links Pakistanis to Homeland

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Poetry Event Links Pakistanis to Homeland

Article excerpt

Countering the attention often given to Pakistan for terrorism, militancy, poverty or lack of human rights, local Pakistanis held a poetry symposium in Ross on Sunday to highlight the beauty of their culture.

The featured speaker was Anwar Masood, one of Pakistan's most well-known poets, visiting Pittsburgh for the first time. Noted for his humor, he entertained listeners with his readings on corruption, bad governance, relationships and humanity.

He was delighted to see that the crowd at the Holiday Inn Pittsburgh North was good-humored and that most could understand the verses he recited. "I felt that [Pakistanis] are still related to the values, culture and traditions of Pakistan while living here in Pittsburgh," Mr. Masood said.

Sessions called Mushaira in Urdu are popular events in Pakistan and in parts of India in which poets gather to share their works.

Another Pakistani poet at the event, Khalid Masood, said he believes poetry shows the love of one's own culture and provides a bridge between Pakistanis living in America and their countrymen back home.

He urged those of Pakistani descent in Pittsburgh to teach their children Urdu so they can better relate to their native language and homeland.

The political nature of poetry can be understood with his words reflecting on the recent arrest of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf: "If someone is a loafer without being rogue; or December is passing without cold. And if an egg is without yolk in it; he is similarly stuck without the khaki uniform."

For generations poetry has been a symbol of free expression in Pakistan's history.

Its national poet, Allama Iqbal, helped spur the idea of a separate state for Muslims, which ultimately led to the formation of Pakistan in 1947.

Poetry also has played an important role in Pakistani politics, culture and social life. Poets often speak freely about taboo topics, challenging governments, religious leaders or even the customs and values -- a practice that sometimes got them arrested in the past.

Furqan Khattak, a doctor who recently settled in Pittsburgh, isn't a fan of poetry but attended the gathering Sunday to learn about this form of expression. …

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