|Born||Parveen Shakir Syed|
24 November 1952
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
|Died||26 December 1994 (aged 42)|
|Alma mater||University of Karachi|
|Genre||Ghazal; Free verse|
|Notable works||Khushbu (1976)|
|Notable awards||Pride of Performance Award by the President of Pakistan (1990)|
Adamjee Literary Award in 1976
|Spouse||Syed Naseer Ali|
|Children||Syed Murad Ali|
Parveen Shakir started writing at a young age, penning both prose and poetry, and contributing columns in Urdu newspapers, and a few articles in English dailies. Initially, she wrote under the pen-name, "Beena". Shakir held two master's degrees, one in English Literature and one in Linguistics. She also held several degrees and another master's degree in banking.
She was a teacher for nine years before she joined the Civil service of Pakistan and worked in the Customs Department. In 1986 she was appointed the second secretary, Federal Board of Revenue (old name Central Board of Revenue) in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Parveen Shakir published her first volume of poetry, Khushbu [Fragrance], to great acclaim, in 1976. She subsequently published other volumes of poetry – all well-received – Sad-barg [Marsh Marigold] in 1980, Khud Kalami [Talking To Oneself] and Inkaar [Denial] in 1990, Kaf-e-Aina [The Mirror's Edge] besides a collection of her newspaper columns, titled Gosha-e-Chashm [Corner of the Eye], and was awarded one of Pakistan's highest honours, the Pride of Performance for her outstanding contribution to literature in 1976. The poetry books are collected in the volume Mah-e-Tamaam [Full Moon] with the exception of Kaf-e-Aina.
Parveen died in 1994 in a car accident while on her way to work.
Style of poetry
Shakir employed mainly two forms of poetry in her work, one being the prevalent ghazal [plural: ghazalyaat], and the other being free verse. The most prominent themes in Shakir's poetry are love, feminism, and social stigmas, though she occasionally wrote on other topics as well. Her work was often based on romanticism, exploring the concepts of love, beauty and their contradictions, and heavily integrated the use of metaphors, similes and personifications.
Arguably, Shakir can be termed the first female poet to use the word larki (girl) in her works—the male-dominated Urdu poetry scene seldom employs that word, and uses masculine syntax when talking about the 'lover'. Similarly, she often made use of the Urdu first-person, feminine pronoun in her verses which, though extremely common in prose, was rarely used in poetry, even by female poets, before her.
See also Ghazal in Khushbu.
Shakir's ghazalyaat are considered "a combination of classical tradition with modern sensitivity", and mainly deal with the feminine perspective on love and romance, and associated themes such as beauty, intimacy, separation, break-ups, distances, distrust and infidelity and disloyalty.
Most of Shakir's ghazalyaat contain five to ten couplets, often – though not always – inter-related. Sometimes, two consecutive couplets may differ greatly in meaning and context [For example, in one of her works, the couplet 'That girl, like her home, perhaps/ Fell victim to the flood' is immediately followed by 'I see light when I think of you/ Perhaps remembrance has become the moon'].
Parveen Shakir's ghazalyaat heavily rely on metaphors and similes, which are repeatedly and thought-provokingly used to bring force and lyricism in her work. A fine example of this is seen in one of her most famous couplets, "Wo tou khushbu hai, hawaon main bikhar jaye ga/ Masla phool ka hai, phool kidher jayega?" [Translation: He is fragrance and would waft in the air/ the trouble lies with the flower – where shall the flower go?] where Shakir relates 'fragrance' to an unfaithful lover, 'air' to the unfaithful person's secret loves, and 'flower' to the person being cheated. Other metaphors Shakir commonly uses are titli [butterfly] for a Romeo, badal [cloud] for one's love, baarish [rain] for affection, and andhi [storm] for difficulties.
Some of Parveen Shakir's ghazalyaat or, more specifically, couplets, have gained an iconic status in Urdu literature. One of her most famous couplets if the one given above. Another famous, Shakir couplet is "Jugnuu ko din kay wakt parakhne ki zid karain/ Bachchay hamaray ehed kay chalaak ho gaye" [They insist upon catching the firefly in daylight/ The children of our age, have grown wiser], which is often quoted to comment on the often surprising knowledge and awareness of the 21st century child.
As compared to her ghazalyaat Shakir's free verse is much bolder, and explores social issues and taboos, including gender inequality, discrimination, patriotism, deceit, prostitution, the human psyche, and current affairs. It is also much more modern and up-to-date.
Parveen Shakir is known for having employed the usage of pop culture references and English words and phrases, that have mixed up with Urdu, in her free verse – a practice that is both generally considered inappropriate, and criticised, in Urdu poetry. An example is the poem Departmental Store Mein [In a Departmental Store], which is named thus despite the fact that there the term 'departmental store' could easily have been substituted with its Urdu equivalent, and where words like 'natural pink,' 'hand lotion,' 'shade,' 'scent' and 'pack' are brought into use, and references made to cosmetics brands like, Pearl, Revlon, Elizabeth Arden, and Tulip. Other examples are her poems Ecstasy, Nun and Picnic.
Shakir's free verse also contains a few, credited translated or inspired works i.e. poems that are translations of, or inspired by, other authors. Examples are Wasteland, a poem inspired by Elliot's poem of the same name, and Benasab Wirsay Ka Bojh [The Burden of Illegitimate Inheritance], a translation of W.B. Yeats's Leda and the Swan.
Parveen Shakir's poetry was well-received, and after her untimely death she is now considered one of the best and "most prominent" modern poets Urdu language has ever produced. Hailed as a "great poetess," her poetry has drawn comparisons to that of Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad, and she is considered among the breed of writers "regarded as pioneers in defying tradition by expressing the "female experience" in Urdu poetry."
A source states, "Parveen ... seems to have captured the best of Urdu verse ... Owing to [her] style and range of expressions one will be intrigued and ... entertained by some soul-stirring poetry." Another praises "her rhythmic flow and polished wording".
Pakistan's noted literary figure Iftikhar Arif has praised Parveen Shakir for impressing "the young lot through her thematic variety and realistic poetry," for adding "a new dimension to the traditional theme of love by giving expression to her emotions in a simple and pellucid style," and using a "variety of words to convey different thoughts with varying intensities."
The Delhi Recorder has stated that Shakir "has given the most beautiful female touch to Urdu poetry."
Awards and recognition
Upon her death, the Parveen Shakir Trust was established by her close friend, Parveen Qadir Agha. The Parveen Shakir Trust organises a yearly function and gives out the "Aks-e-Khushbu" award.
The first substantial selection of Shakir's work translated into English was made by the poet Rehan Qayoom in 2011.
Commemorative postage stamp
Parveen was highly educated. She received two undergraduate degrees, one in English literature and the other in linguistics, and obtained MA degrees in the same subjects from the University of Karachi. She also held a PhD, and another MA degree in Bank Administration.
Family and death
Parveen Shakir married a Pakistani doctor, Syed Naseer Ali, with whom she had a son, Syed Murad Ali — but the marriage did not last long and ended in a divorce.
On 26 December 1994, Parveen's car collided with a bus while she was on her way to work in Islamabad. The accident resulted in her death, a great loss to the Urdu poetry world.
The road on which the accident took place is named after her now Parveen Shakir Road.
Following is a list of Shakir's published books. A translation of each book's title follows in italics.
Volumes of Poetry
- Khushbu (1976) – Fragrance
- Sad-barg (1980) – Marsh Marigold
- Khud-kalaami (1990) – Talking to oneself
- Inkaar (1990) – Refusal
- Maah-e-Tamaam (1994) – Full Moon
- Kaf-e-Aa'ina – The Edge of the Mirror
- Qarya e Jaan 
- Shabnam Ka Akela Moti 
- Gosha-e-Chashm – Corner of the eye (a collection of her newspaper columns)
- "Books by Praveen Shakir | Punjnud". Punjnud.
- "Profile of Parveen Shakir". urdupoetry.com website. 27 February 2002. Archived from the original on 30 September 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
- "Parveen Shakir birth anniversary". 30 May 2013. Archived from the original on 30 May 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
- Parveen Shakir remembered on 24th death anniversary Pakistan Today (newspaper), Published 26 December 2018, Retrieved 1 June 2019
- Neend tou khwaab ho gai shayad – Pg. 121, Khushbu by Parveen Shakir, JBD Press Edition.
- Wo tou khushbu hai – Pg. 190, Khushbu by Parveen Shakir, JBD Press Edition.
- Baarish hui tou phool'on k tan chaak ho gaye – Pg. 278, Khushbu by Parveen Shakir, JBD Press Edition.
- Departmental Store Mein – Pg. 178, Khushboo by Parveen Shakir, JBD Press Edition.
- Nun – Pg. 55, Khushboo by Parveen Shakir, JBD Press Edition.
- Departmental Store Mein – Pg. 137, Khushbu by Parveen Shakir, JBD Press Edition.
- Wasteland – Pg. 89, Khushbu by Parveen Shakir, JBD Press Edition.
- Benasab Wirsay Ca Bojh – Pg. 229, Khushbu by Parveen Shakir, JBD Press Edition.
- Saadia Qamar (23 May 2014). "Parveen Shakir in the eyes of Fatema Hassan". The Express Tribune (newspaper). Retrieved 1 June 2019.
- Parveen Shakir's death anniversary observed Dawn (newspaper), 27 December 2016, Retrieved 1 June 2019
- After Parveen Shakir
- Postage Stamp to mark Parveen's death anniversary Dawn (newspaper), 23 December 2013, Retrieved 1 June 2019
- Qarya e Jaan 
- Shabnam Ka Akela Moti 
- Parveen Shakir on IMDb
- Parveen Shakir Ghazals – Parveen Shakir Ghazals on rekhta.org website
- Parveen Shakir Selected Poetry – The Website has research based segregation of Parveen Shakir's Poetry into Love, Sad, Social, Political and Religious Poetry
-  – Parveen Shakir: A Note and Twelve Poems, by C.M. Naim
- Hashmi – Five poems by Parveen Shakir, translated by Alamgir Hashmi
- Where am I? | Wo bin ich?, Retrieved 19 Jan 2016