May 17, 2013
HTML Giant recently posted “25 points” about BOA’s new Pakistani translation Light and Heavy Things, a collection of selected poems by Zeeshan Sahil, translated from the Urdu by Christpoher Kennedy, Faisal Siddiqui, and Mi Ditmar.
The 25 points, listed almost as one’s informal stream of consciousness through reading the book, provide background on Sahil’s life, the time period in which he was writing, and the trends that his writing fits into. The points comment on particular poems, and on the poet himself.
Here are some of our favorites:
2. Zeeshan Sahil was born in Hyderabad, Sindh, in the ‘60s. He wrote within a fairly small and well-known circle of Pakistani poets who, to my mind, are the Urdu answer to Bolano’s Infrarealismo movement. A lot of prose poetry going on, a lot of experimenting with, if not ignoring, meter and rhyme entirely. A lot of art.
3. He published eight collections of poetry in Urdu (mostly free verse though) and also wrote for broadcast radio which is no small thing for someone in Pakistan in the time period.
4. Experimental poets writing for radio in a war torn area, kinda a thing.
5. This book is 56 pages and it took a team of three translators to bring it into English.
6. Sometimes he writes from the perspective of a woman, I think.
8. He makes his point in such a quiet way, in such a vulnerable, elegant, this-thin-glass-lightbulb-could-shatter-in-your-hands-at-any-minute way, that it’s disarming, astounding. Like eerily demure. Entirely manipulative and totally works for him.
9. “I’m not saying, I’m just saying,” all over these pages. All day long with the vulnerability in his manipulativeness.
10. We forgive him.
11. I think what he was really doing was expressing the way an elderly lady in Pakistan would feel genuinely, and also with really good intentions. What has happened here? Why does this happen? Etc.
14. “This heart is a bomb.”
20. I feel like he reminds me of Adrienne Rich sometimes, of all poets:
when the mail is delivered again
every day a postcard
with news that we’re alive
will reach our friends.
maybe they will come here
to search for us
where people who are always searching
21. “will design canvas shoes
and gowns for poor women
on her computer.”
22. That last one was like, okay woah, with the whole suburban girl being like, “I want to help the world. I want to feel like I am doing good. I have a date for brunch in twenty minutes.” And he’s all: Man I just hate dumb people. Do I even want “help” from people at this point?
25. “Despite the eternal anger of God toward poets//my prayer begins with you.”
Pre-order Light and Heavy Things from the BOA Bookstore today, and receive your copy within a week!