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Bulandshahr, British India
Kishwar Naheed (Urdu: کشور ناہید) (born 1940) is a feminist Urdu poet from Pakistan. She has written several poetry books. She has also received awards including Sitara-e-Imtiaz for her literary contribution towards Urdu literature.
Naheed was born in 1940 to a Syed family in Bulandshahr, India. She migrated to Lahore, Pakistan after partition in 1949 with her family. Kishwar was a witness to the violence (including rape and abduction of women) associated with partition. The bloodshed at that time left an impression on her at a tender age. As a young girl, Kishwar was inspired by the girls who had started going to Aligarh Muslim University in those times. The white kurta and white gharara under a black burqa that they wore looked so elegant to her and she wanted to go to college, to read and write.
She finished Adeeb Fazil in Urdu and learnt Persian. She had become a voracious reader in her teenage and read everything that she chanced upon — ranging from the works of Dostoyevsky to the dictionary published by Neval Kishore Press
She struggled and fought to receive education when women were not allowed to go to school. She studied at home and received a high school diploma through correspondence courses. After matriculation, there was a lot of resistance to her taking admission in college but her brother, Syed Iftikhar Zaidi, paid for her tuition and helped her continue her formal education. In Pakistan she went on to obtain bachelor of arts in 1959 and master's in Economics in 1961 from Punjab University, Lahore. Kishwar married her friend and a poet Yousuf Kamran and the couple have two sons. After her husband's death, she worked to raise her children and support the family.
She is fondly called Kishwar Apa by the young and the old alike.
Kishwar has 12 volumes of her poetry published from both Pakistan and India. Her Urdu poetry has also been published in foreign languages all over the world. Her famous poem 'We Sinful Women' (Urdu: ہم گنہگار عورتیں), affectionately referred to as a women’s anthem among Pakistani feminists, gave its title to a groundbreaking anthology of contemporary Urdu feminist poetry, translated and edited by Rukhsana Ahmad and published in London by The Women's Press in 1991.
Kishwar has also written eight books for children and has won the prestigious UNESCO award for children's literature. Her love for children is as much as her concern for women. She expresses this concern in her poem, Asin Burian We Loko, which is a touching focus on the plight of women in the present male-dominated society. Naheed has served major positions in various national institutions. She was Director General of Pakistan National Council of the Arts before her retirement. She also edited a prestigious literary magazine Mahe Naw and founded an organisation Hawwa (Eve) whose goal is to help women without an independent income become financially independent through cottage industries and selling handicrafts.
Politics and Feminism
Kishwar Naheed has been witness to the struggles and aspirations that Pakistan has gone through as a nation. Her written work, spanning for more than four decades, chronicles her experiences as a woman writer engaged in the creative and civic arenas, even as she has dealt with personal, social, and official backlashes.
Months after the Partition of India – a little before her family moved to Lahore from Bulandshahr – Kishwar saw something which left a lasting impression on her mind and her heart. The pain and sadness she felt in those moments have stayed with her forever. Some Muslim girls who belonged to Bulandshahr were kidnapped during the Partition riots. Either they succeeded in running away from their captors or were rescued, they arrived back in Bulandshahr. Some were known to her family and she accompanied her mother and sisters to go see them. They looked haggard, exhausted and broken. Surrounded by other women who were trying to console them, they were all lying down on the floor or reclined against the walls in a large room. The feet of these women were badly bruised and soaked in blood. That was the moment when Kishwar Naheed says she stopped being just a child and became a girl child. She became a woman. She still remembers those blood soaked feet and says "women and girls anywhere have their feet soaked in blood. Very little has changed over the decades. This must end".
Influenced by the Progressive Writers’ Movement in South Asia and the ideals of socialism Kishwar Naheed witnessed major international political upheavals; Pakistan was under martial law and new ideas and forms were being introduced and appreciated in Urdu literature. Kishwar and my friends saw themselves as a part of everything. One day they would take a procession out in support of Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Egyptian right over Suez Canal, the next day they would bring out a rally for Vietnam or Palestine or Latin America.
In an interview to Herald Kishwar Naheed commenting on censorship says:
"we must not forget that creative writers and artists do not live in isolation. It is natural to react to and comment on the political and social circumstances in which one lives. On one hand, it is said that creative people are more sensitive and concerned while, on the other hand, it is argued that they must confine themselves to writing about themselves or their inner feelings. It is fine that we should write about our inner feelings but when Malala [Yousafzai] was shot or girl schools in Swat were being razed to the ground, it was my inner feeling that I wrote about. My poems will now be seen as a critical social comment and some may call these political poems but these poems represent my inner feelings......Creativity cannot be regulated nor should it be. Who would know this better than a woman writer or artist who has to struggle all her life to be able to express what she feels and thinks, to be able to articulate the way she wishes to articulate, to be able to present to the world what she wishes to present in her own unique way."
"This freedom to write and express has come through a struggle drenched in tears".
Kishwar Naheed also champions the cause of peace in South Asia and has played a significant role in promoting Pakistan India People’s Forum and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Writers Forum. She has participated in global literary and cultural movements bringing together writers and artists who believe in a fair and equitable global political order. Her powerful poems against extremist religious thought, violence, terrorism and increased suffering of women and girls due to radicalization have created waves locally and internationally.
Selected Literary Works
It was in the early 1960s when the short-lived traditional phase of her poetry was completely over. Poet Iftikhar Jalib, who was Naheed's class fellow, he and Naheed started writing and experimenting with newer forms: free verse, blank verse and prose poems. That was the time when Kishwar Naheed graduated from Daffodils to Waste Land. Out of her meagre salary, she would spend a third amounting to around a hundred rupees on buying books every month.
Naheed is more prolific than most of her contemporaries with eight collections of verse, a pungent collection of personal memoirs, pen portraits of writers and artists, and translations of some key feminist literary texts from other languages into Urdu behind her. She also writes a regular weekly newspaper column and is widely acclaimed for her sharp and incisive poetic expression, for being bold and direct, and, for celebrating the universal human struggle for equality, justice and freedom.
Kishwar Naheed’s poetic oeuvre consists of ten volumes of poetry, six of which were published between 1969 and 1990 where her voice has grown "louder, more insistent and somehow more intimate". Her first poetry collection Lab-i goya / Lips that Speak was published in 1968, that won the Adamjee Prize of Literature. She also writes for children and for the daily Jang. Her columns for the daily Jang newspaper on issues of political, social, and literary importance were collected in Warq Warq Aaina / Leaves of Reflections.
Her stature as the matriarch of Urdu poetry is lodged in her prolificacy as a writer, her reworking of the lyrical ghazal, the innovations she helped bring about in the forms of free verse and prose poetry, and the extensive translations she has made of radical poets from other languages.
Her first memoir, Buri Aurat ki Katha, was translated by Durdana Soomro as A Bad Woman’s Story.
|1968||Lab-i goyā||Lahore: Maktabah-yi Karvan||The first collection of poetry
Won the Adamjee Prize of Literature Award
|2006||Warq Warq Aaina||Sang-e-Meel Publications|
|2016||Aabad Kharaba||Afzal Ahmad|
|Buri Aurat Ki Katha||Autobiography|
|2012||Chand Ki Beti||Maktaba Payam-e-Taleem, New Delhi|
|2001||Dasht-e-Qais Men Laila - Kulliyat||Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore|
|2010||Aurat Mard Ka Rishta||Sang-e-Meel Publications|
|1978||Galiyan Dhoop Darwaze||Mohammad Jameelunnabi|
|2012||Jadu Ki Handiyan||Maktaba Payam-e-Taleem, New Delhi|
|1996||Khawateen Afsana Nigar||Niyaz Ahmad|
|2011||Raat Ke Musafir||Director Qaumi Council Bara-e- Farogh-e-Urdu Zaban New Delhi|
|2012||Sher Aur Bakri||Maktaba Payam-e-Taleem, New Delhi|
|2001||The Distance of a Shout||Oxford University Press||Urdu poems with English translations|
|2010||A Bad Woman's Story||Durdana Soomro||Buri Aurat Ki Katha||English||Oxford University Press, USA|
|-||We Sinful Women||Hum Gunehgar Aurtein||Many Languages|
|-||Lips that Speak||Lab-i-goya||English|
|-||Leaves of Reflections||Warq Warq Aaina||English|
|1982||Aurat Ek Nafsiyati Mutala||The Second Sex||Urdu||Deen Gard Publications Limited|
|2012||Chahar-Soo||Gulzar Javed||Faizul Islam Printing Press, Rawalpindi||021|
|ai rah-e-hijr-e-nau-faroz dekh ki hum thahar gae||Ghazal|
|apne lahu se nam likha ghair ka bhi dekh||Ghazal|
|bigdi baat banana mushkil badi baat banae kaun||Ghazal|
|bimar hain to ab dam-e-isa kahan se aae||Ghazal|
|dil ko bhi gham ka saliqa na tha pahle pahle||Ghazal|
|dukh ki gutthi kholenge||Ghazal|
|ek hi aawaz par wapas palat aaenge log||Ghazal|
|girya, mayusi, gham-e-tark-e-wafa kuchh na raha||Ghazal|
|har naqsh-e-pa ko manzil-e-jaan manna pada||Ghazal|
|hasrat hai tujhe samne baithe kabhi dekhun||Ghazal|
|hausla shart-e-wafa kya karna||Ghazal|
|hawa kuchh apne sawal tahrir dekhti hai||Ghazal|
|hum ki maghlub-e-guman the pahle||Ghazal|
|ishq ki gum-shuda manzilon mein gai||Ghazal|
|jab main na hun to shahr mein mujh sa koi to ho||Ghazal|
|kabhi to aa meri aankhon ki raushni ban kar||Ghazal|
|kahaniyan bhi gain qissa-khwaniyan bhi gain||Ghazal|
|khayal-e-tark-e-talluq ko talte rahiye||Ghazal|
|khushbu ko rangton pe ubharta hua bhi dekh||Ghazal|
|kuchh bol guftugu ka saliqa na bhul jae||Ghazal|
|kuchh din to malal us ka haq tha||Ghazal|
|kuchh itne yaad mazi ke fasane hum ko aae hain||Ghazal|
|meri aankhon mein dariya jhulta hai||Ghazal|
|mujhe bhula ke mujhe yaad bhi rakha tu ne||Ghazal|
|na koi rabt ba-juz khamushi o nafrat ke||Ghazal|
|nazar to aa kabhi aankhon ki raushni ban kar||Ghazal|
|pahan ke pairhan-e-gul saba nikalti hai||Ghazal|
|sambhal hi lenge musalsal tabah hon to sahi||Ghazal|
|sulagti ret pe aankhen bhi zer-e-pa rakhna||Ghazal|
|surkhi badan mein rang-e-wafa ki thi kuchh dinon||Ghazal|
|talash dariya ki thi ba-zahir sarab dekha||Ghazal|
|tere qarib pahunchne ke dhang aate the||Ghazal|
|tishnagi achchhi nahin rakhna bahut||Ghazal|
|tujhse wada aziz-tar rakkha||Ghazal|
|tumhaari yaad mein hum jashn-e-gham manaen bhi||Ghazal|
|umr mein us se badi thi lekin pahle tut ke bikhri main||Ghazal|
|wida karta hai dil satwat-e-rag-e-jaan ko||Ghazal|
|ye hausla tujhe mahtab-e-jaan hua kaise||Ghazal|
|zehn rahta hai badan khwab ke dam tak us ka||Ghazal|
|ek nazm ijazaton ke liye|
|ghas to mujh jaisi hai|
|hum gunahgar aurten||Pakistan's Feminist Anthem|
|KHudaon se kah do|
|qaid mein raqs|
|sone se pahle ek KHayal|
|batakh aur sanp|
|chidiya aur koyal|
|Dais Dais Ki Kahanian||Ferozsons Pvt Ltd||UNESCO Prize for Children's Literature|
|gadhe ne bajai bansuri|
|kutte aur khargosh|
|1968||Adamjee Prize of Literature||her first collection Lab-e-goya (1968)|
|UNESCO Prize for Children's Literature||Dais Dais Ki Kahanian|
|Best Translation award||Columbia University|
|2000||Sitara-e-Imtiaz||One of the highest honours bestowed by the Pakistan government|
- "Kishwar Naheed". Poetry Translation.Org. Retrieved 2012-09-26.
- "Kishwar Naheed A Great Woman from the Punjab". Old.Dr.Sohial.com. Retrieved 2012-09-26.
- "I BELIEVE IN HUMANISTIC PHILOSOPHY". Uddari.Word Press.com. Retrieved 2012-09-26.
- "Kishwar Naheed (poet) - Pakistan - Poetry International". www.poetryinternationalweb.net. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
- Mahwash, Shoaib (2009). "Vocabulary of Resistance: A Conversation with Kishwar Naheed". Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies. 1 (2): 1.
- Khalique, Harris (2015-06-18). "An interview with feminist poet Kishwar Naheed". Herald Magazine. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
- Laurel, Steele (2002). Review of Kishwar Naheed’s The Distance of a Shout: Urdu Poems with English Translations. Annual of Urdu Studies 17. pp. 337–46.
- Jane Eldridge Miller, ed., Who's Who in Contemporary Women's Writing. 2001.