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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sheniz Janmohamed at Writers' Forum

Sheniz Janmohamed
Last Sunday, Toronto’s Writers’ Forum organised a reading by Sheniz Janmohamed of her ghazals in English from her collection Bleeding Light, published by TSAR

I wrote about the book earlier when I covered TSAR's annual launch in Fall at Gladstone last year.

After the initial hesitation to accept ghazals in English, I quite liked Sheniz’s collection because of its raw appeal. 

Although the audience at Gladstone launch was generally appreciative of Sheinz’s experiment, too, I couldn’t help feeling that most people there were unfamiliar with the form.

Hence, I was keen to see how an audience seeped in the glory of ghazals would react to her experiment. When Writers’ Forum organised an event featuring Sheniz, I decided to attend, even though it was on Sunday afternoon. 

Writers’ Forum “promotes Pakistani / Urdu literature, culture and personalities.”

Sheniz read several ghazals from her collection. She appeared relaxed, sure and at home with this audience than she seemed at the Gladstone launch.

Importantly, the audience loved her ghazals; I even heard muted “wha, wha” behind me – something that is quintessential to a ghazal recitation: a learned and appreciative audience.

Here’s one of ghazals she read:

Ladders Without Rungs

On deep sleep, our children sip nectar from the snow of Kashmir
At dawn, blood soaks their bed sheets like dyed cashmere.

We have swallowed black stones washed up on the shore,
And on the heavy pit of our stomachs, we idolize our fear.

They drill oil from oceans, drag seals to slaughter, unsalt seas.
But whose hands will control the boat when there is no boat to steer?

Call the saint a fool. He welcomes death in a puddle of sunlight.
Declare the fool a saint. He refuses death until his body is revered.

Build your skyscrapers and towers, stretch your hands towards God.
Israh scales the ladder without rungs. Without rungs, the sky appears.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mayank, I've nominated you for a Lovely Blog Award. Details can be found at www.the-reading-list.com