Often when talking about poetry, we circle our way towards the Great Romantics, or the modern day instagram poets. Those are all great as well but the richness of our traditional literature gets overshadowed. Moreover, Resistance poetry has been a vital part of Pakistan’s culture since time immemorial. Thus, We, at Daastan, believe it is essential to remind ourselves of our culture of literary resistance towards oppression.  Accordingly, from resistance against ethnic oppression to gendered state oppression, the list of translated poems below have everything.

1. A Prison Evening by Faiz Ahmad Faiz

Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911-84), a renowned Pakistani poet, was a leading member of the Communist Party post-partition. He spent significant time in prison for his political activism. Further he was also a part of the Progressive Writer’s Movement alongside the likes of Ismat Chughtai and Saadat Hassan Manto. Consequently, a prime example of resistance poetry is “A Prison Evening”  as it is the product of his time in confinement in the 50s. His hopes and dreams of a better world are held in his words. In it, the words hold his hope in the resistance and his dreams of a better world.


2. Partition by Ustaad Daman

A Punjabi poet and mystic, Ustaad Daman navigated the space between politics and poetry from the pre-partition era. While he believed in active resistance against British rule, he also believed in subcontinental harmony. Thus, his poems hold the sense of loss that many felt after the partition of the subcontinent. Moreover, what makes “Partition” a form of resistance poetry is its’ ability to put into words what many feared to at that time. It holds onto the loss, and it rebels against the toxic hypernationalistic narrative.

3. Will Not Be Silent by Gul Khan Naseer

Gul Khan Naseer (1914-83) has been closely tied to rebellious sentiments with his associations with the Baloch Nationalist Movement. He was a journalist, poet and politician native to Balochistan. Furthermore, “Will Not Be Silent“, has the same themes of anti-imperialism and resistance to tyranny that are associated with most of his works. Moreover, the poem carries in it the bravery of speaking the truth- and fighting for it, in the face of oppression.

4. We Sinful Women by Kishwar Naheed

Kishwar Naheed is perhaps the most easily recognizable name in this list. Famous for her feminist resistance poetry, she is often seen as the pioneer of the genre of Urdu Feminist Poetry. Accordingly, The feminist groups in Pakistan have often adopted “We Sinful Women” as their anthem against institutional patriarchy.

5. Acid by Sehar Imdad

Dr. Sehar Imdad is a modern day sindhi poet. She can be found writing poetry and teaching at Habib University. Furthermore, her poem “Acid” deals with ideas of honour killings and abuse, which is relevant to the raging femicide in Pakistan. It is no wonder that the poem is rich with imagery of abuse and loss of autonomy of the female body. Further, It is easy to note that her poetic voice highlights the plight of all the unnamed victims of patriarchy and misogyny. 

translated from Sindhi by Azmat Ansari and Waqas Khwaja


And now the list must be concluded, but we hope that the poems offer a moment of hope in these dark times. Literature has helped us before, and it will help us again to find our way.

Make sure to keep a look out for more culturally relevant recommendations! If you think you have what it takes to be a poet, share your work with the world by publishing at Qissa!

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