In episode 11 of Lit’EDTech Fiesta, Daastan invites two teachers Anum Sajjad and Aasma Iram, from Punjab University as panelists. In the session, they talk about their writing journeys.
The wonders of Creative Writing
Anum starts by highlighting how as a student creative writing assignments never held a lot of meaning for her. The reason for that is there would be no reward or outcome for writing them. It was as if she was aimlessly wasting paper for a grade. Therefore, she decided that as a teacher she would push her students toward a goal. She recalls sitting down two of her most talented students and coming up with the idea of publishing their short stories. The idea turned out to be successful, selling 100 copies of the book “like hotcakes.”
In the face of challenges
Anum recalls how she doubted the success of the book before it being published. She feared wasting the time of her students and subjecting them to unnecessary duress. However, with the support of her peers, students, and most importantly her publisher, she had a very successful and encouraging book launch. She appreciated her students especially those who weren’t published for participating in the different aspects of the book launch.
Women empowerment through Creative Writing
After the success of first edition, Anum decided to publish the second one. The second edition focuses on female empowerment because it came out when “the Aurat March had hit a low.” Society was more critical of its ambitions, people became harsher towards women’s intentions and progress. For this reason, not only the name of the book is “Aurat” but the illustrations on the book cover symbolise women empowerment as well.
Ms. Aasma Iram made her debut in the second edition with her poem ‘Karawan.’ It beautifully varies between English, Urdu, and Punjabi. Karawan articulately portrays modern-day literature in Pakistan with contrasting languages. Furthermore, she conveys her thoughts about patriarchy and breaking taboos as a woman along the words of;
“Women less in number, few in strength, can equally bring a positive change.”
Fighting the stereotypes
Anum believes money and contacts fuel the publishing industry. She points out that this prevents deserving writers from having their voices heard. She emphasises on the importance of check and balance. Otherwise, the content being published will spread stereotypes. She also brings another important point in the discourse regarding stereotypes. Anum vividly remembers how she filtered out stereotypes about women while publishing her book. According to her, women often serve as comic relief in Pakistani literature. She strongly condemns that narrative. Moreover, she speaks against the sexualisation and objectification of women through literature.
You can stream the full episode here. For upcoming literary events, stay tuned!