Hoisting the Flag of Literature All Over Pakistan

Hoisting the Flag of Literature All Over Pakistan

After diving headfirst into the Olympiad culture and sponsoring numerous talent hunting competitions in the span of just a few months, Daastan started attracting the attention of the big names in the community and getting invited not just to help groom the talent, but also share our experience and inspire those who might want to walk down the same path. And so, with this, we zeroed in on providing sponsorship, technical and media related support, and marketing to the literature exclusive festivals and happenings across Pakistan. The team would then help those interested find their way to their first self-published works through Qissa, empowering them to monetize their hobby and – if they chose so – to make a career out of it.

A Seminar on Feminism:

The first of such events was a seminar titled “Feminism in Language, Literature and Marketplace”, organized on Women’s Day, where Daastan’s founder, Mr. Syed Ommer Ammer, was invited as a guest speaker. Ommer shared the success stories of Ms. Laiba Sehrish Nawaz – the youngest published author of Peshawar, Ms. Lareb Soomro – the youngest published author or Sindh and Ms. Faiza Kayani a police commando who defied all odds to chase her dream and published her first book through Qissa. He also spoke about how Daastan was enabling women voice their opinions through their stories, and also gain financial independence by training them to generate revenue from their writings and connecting them to resources which can help them do so.

NUST and LUMS Literary Fests:

Just a couple weeks after that, we sponsored not only the National Literary Festival by NUST in Islamabad, but also one of the biggest campus based literary festivals in all of Pakistan, i.e. the LUMS Literary Festival 2018. Through Daastan, the literary festivals received judges to adjudicate all their competitions, discounts on all books published on Qissa, the chance to talk to our team and learn more about utilizing digital tools to help them carve their out their niche in the industry. Not only this, the winners of the LUMS Literary Festival received wild card entries to the finalists of the on-going season of ‘The Stories Untold’, through which the authors would all go into print for free through Daastan.

If you want us to sponsor you event, or provide support, send us an email at merasawal@daastan.com.

Drawing out Local Talent:

This led us to powering events which were showcasing local languages, such as the Punjab Festival 2018, where our delegate Ms. Diya Khan who is a Daastan Literary Fellow and a teacher by profession, represented Daastan. The festival was organized by Punjab Institute of Languages and Culture, to promote the Punjabi language and its culture.

Panel discussion at Punjab Festival 2018

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Making Ourselves Known and Drawing Attention in Olympiads

Making Ourselves Known and Drawing Attention in Olympiads

Daastan may have started small, but in no way was it destined to remain that way as the years rolled by. When the team started out, one of their primary missions was to help train raw talent from across the whole country and maybe even beyond, and enable them in setting up their literary ventures through the Qissa portal – or help them polish their skills to perfection, making them industry-fit and ready for hiring. We at Daastan, have always felt it as one of our responsibilities to reach out and give opportunities to anyone who has even a smidge of talent, along with a ton of passion.

Sponsoring the EME Olympiad:

It was to uphold this very ideal that Daastan jumped forward at the mention of giving support to the first competition which reached out to them i.e. the EME Olympiad. A delegation from team Daastan consisting of Ms. Sidra Amin, Co-Founder, and Ms. Mahnoor Naseer, Editor-In-Chief were invited to judge the Speed Writing as well as the Poetry Slam competition. The two exceptionally talented ladies were honored to have been given the opportunity to witness such exceptional work by some of the participants. The delegation also consisted of Ms. Syeda Aleena Bukhari, a Literary Fellow graduate and a part of Urdu Editorial Board at Daastan, who was there to judge and score the participants enrolled in Urdu based literary competitions. Daastan provided a sponsorship of almost 50,000 PKR to EME Olympiad, along with social media support.

Daastan joins hands with EME Olympiad

PIEAS National Olympiad x Daastan:

A month later, we had the opportunity to collaborate with and provide funding to the PIEAS National Olympiad. One of the biggest Olympiads being held in the twin cities, with participation from more than 30 Universities from all over Pakistan. The team of Daastan saw more than 800 participants competiting each other and showcasing their skills. Their literary modules were judged by a delegation of Daastan, consisting of Ms. Areesh Fatmee, Director PR Daastan, Ms. Syeda Aleena Bukhari, Urdu Editor Daastan, and Ms. Aaina Batool, published author at Qissa. Daastan also offered print publishing to the winners, along with marketing on social media to provide additional support to the event.

Ms. Syeda Aleena Bukhari (left) and Ms. Aaina Batool with Team PiON.

The IST Youth Carnival:

In the same week as the PIEAS National Olympiad, Daastan also collaborated with the IST Youth Carnival. Our published author Ms. Iqra Saeed set up a stall there and spread awareness on the literary industry and self-publishing scenario in Pakistan, and Daastan also provided judges to adjudicate the short story competition.

Daastan’s stall set up by Ms. Iqra Saeed at IST Youth Carnival

If you are organizing an Olympiad or Carnival at your University and require sponsorship, drop us an email at merasawal@daastan.com.

Literary Evenings Volume II: The Second Chapter in a Hit Story

Literary Evenings Volume II: The Second Chapter in a Hit Story

Exactly a month after the chain of events, titled “Literary Evenings” by Words and Metaphors, was kick started in the city of Peshawar, the team of Daastan traveled all the way to Karachi to hold the second one in its succession. The first event had turned out to be a huge hit, with a crowd turnout that amazed even the most hopeful among us. The poetry and performances we got to see in the event were of such good quality that weeks after the audience would find themselves thinking about the cozy environment in which all of the literary geeks felt connected as if they were a family.

The Event:

Literary Evenings Volume Two was split into two events held at separate venues so as to celebrate each one according to its needs. The first event was the book launch of Daastan’s youngest published writer from Sindh, Lareb Soomro. The 15-year-old girl from Larkana wrote her very first novel “The Secret of Spring”, and finding no avenue to bring her work to the public, turned to what would become her enabling family – Daastan. Within a few months of her sharing her novel with the team, it was proofread, edited to its best version, and then sent to print. It was such a pleasure for Daastan to have empowered such a young but a creative and budding mind. Lareb’s book launch was held in Nizamani Labour Hall where students from different colleges, writers and people with an appreciation of literature graced the event. Her launch received extensive media coverage. The news report of the event and her interviews were featured on Samaa news, Sach Tv, as well as local Sindhi news channels like Awaz.

Group photo featuring DAWN TV reporter (left), Mr. Khursheed Ahmed – a proud father, Ms. Mukhtar Soomro – a happy aunt, Ms. Lareb Soomro – Sindh’s Youngest published author and her uncle Mr. Ameen (right).

Open Mic:

The second occasion of the volume two of Literary evenings was an open mic session which took place in Pakistan Chowk Community Center. The Open Mic was themed, and people from all walks of life came together to share their works and lift the stigma from society’s notion regarding “Abuse”. Over the course of the evening, with so many hearts opening up to individuals who had gone through more or less the same experiences as them, the air grew somber but bittersweet in the knowledge that they were not alone. 

Mr. Ahmed was a participant of the Open Mic Session held under Literary Evenings Vol II
Bringing our Daastan to your Cities through Campus Drives

Bringing our Daastan to your Cities through Campus Drives

Daastan took over the digital space after graduating from Telenor Velocity, had authors singing up by the hundreds, and was creating waves in the trade of writing in Pakistan. With Qissa leading at the forefront, it was only natural that the team started to think of ways to expand their message to the populace previously untouched due to biased social media algorithms, lack of connectivity to the relevant resources, or dearth of awareness regarding how we worked and why it mattered. To address this, Daastan’s team geared up to hold campus drives all across Pakistan.

How to Connect with Daastan:

The idea was simple; we invited our family online to drop us an email at merasawal@daastan.com or message us on our Facebook page or website if they wanted us to visit their campus. From there on, the team of Daastan would try to reach out to their resources in the said city, get in contact with the authorities or concerned people at the University campus they were planning on visiting, set a date and arrange a small event to which students would be invited.
The invites that followed were received from all sorts of individuals of our community. We visited campuses where our members worked or studied, Universities in which we were hosted by our published writers and story competition winners, and places where we were invited simply because a person chose to volunteer with us as a literary activist to learn about self-publishing and get their fellows interested in literature.

The Impact:

What started as a few visits to some universities, ended up as a full-blown offline movement in which more than 40 campuses were visited to gather the literati from all over the country and walk them through the literature industry and its workings in the most transparent way. We were welcomed into campuses of Karachi such as NEDUET, to those of Multan like Bahauddin Zikriya University. In Lahore doors of the UMT were opened to us, in Islamabad those of COMSATS, and in Rawalpindi we made waves in a session so exuberant in FUMC, it left a mark on all that attended it.
The team would go spearheaded by one or another executive member, hold an interactive session with the students and answer their questions regarding Daastan and Qissa publishing, set up a stall with our published books and cool bookmarks, and connect with all the hidden gems of the literary community.

Honorary Invites:

Along with this, the team was also invited to speak in numerous literary fests all across Pakistan. Our Managing Director was invited to speak as a panelist in King Edwards Literary Festival ‘17, while Daastan’s founder himself, accompanied by Ms. Sameen Aziz – graduate of Daastan’s second batch of Literary Fellowship, represented Daastan at KATH ’18 . In each campus drive, a prize distribution ceremony would be held to appreciate our writers.

If you want our team to visit your campus or sponsor your literary event, drop us a message on our Facebook page, or email us at merasawal@daastan.com.

The Literary Evenings Series: A String of Events All Across Pakistan

The Literary Evenings Series: A String of Events All Across Pakistan

Words and Metaphors:

Somewhere in the humdrum that was the year 2017, Daastan’s co-founder Sidra Amin took it upon herself to launch a platform that worked solely for the propagation of literature through offline events. For months before the forum was founded, Sidra hunted for literati and like-minded individuals with a heart filled with sheer love for literature and related arts. In mid-summer, it finally came into being, and was named Words and Metaphors. They had the pleasure of introducing to KPK its very first spoken word performance by their debut artist Mr. Kayenaat Hameed Khattak.

Literary Evenings Volume 1:

Almost a year later, Daastan powered what was to become the signature event series of Words and Metaphors, titled Literary Evenings. The idea was to initiate a chain of events solely focused on encouraging the literature invested local community artists, and bring their work out into the open. The first volume of Literary Evenings, held in the city of Peshawar, had a two-tiered agenda. The first, was to hold a Poetry Slam Contest between the poets of the city, in both Urdu and English. The contest was divided into three rounds, each with its own unique theme to challenge the performer and their written content. A panel of three exceptionally qualified judges was assembled, which consisted of a research scholar pursuing her MPhil in Literature, Founder Daastan, and Co-founder Words and Metaphors, each especially suited to evaluate the poet’s abilities of speech, written word and body language.

The second purpose of the event was to hold a book launch for the most talented writer of Qissa, who also had the honor of being the fastest crowd funded author of Daastan, Ms. Laiba Sehrish Nawaz. Her book, Abduction from the Lethe, had hundreds of entries of poem and prose, which she had written since she was a little child, as well as art and photography that resonated with her work.

The turnout of Literary Evenings Vol. 1

The Footprint:

The event had an astounding turnout. More than 50 people showed up to witness the rise of the empire of literature, and cheer for those who had accomplished their dreams and visions related to it. The guest of honor was Dr. Nasir Jamal Khattak, a professor at the University of Peshawar who wowed the crowd with his soul-searching talk about realizing one’s inner potential.

Prof. Dr. Nasir Jamal Khattak, the guest of honor of the event

Three winners of the Poetry Slam contest were selected and were awarded gifts from Daastan. The book launch also received media coverage from multiple news channels, such as Geo News.

If you require services to organize a literary event offline, reach out and drop a message with Daastan or Words and Metaphors.

YWWF Creating The Next Gen Women Leaders

YWWF Creating The Next Gen Women Leaders

Young Women Writer’s Forum (YWWF)

Young Women Writer’s Forum (YWWF), a branch of Women Writer’s Forum (WWF) was founded in 2008. Their mission is to teach the female youth more about the literature, communication and help them explore the power of perspective so they could think more critically.

Writer’s As Leaders Capacity Building Workshop

Young Women Writers’ Forum arranged a one day capacity building workshop on October 16, 2015 by the name “Writers as leaders”, where many young girls who participated were trained by Ms. Salma Masood, who is an cofounder PWWF, Educationalist; Edu. And HR Consultant, Lead Trainer British Council, UNDP, FEFA.

The workshop kicked off with an introduction of YWWF by Sidra Amin and was proceeded by Founder of YWWF, Ms. Bushra Iqbal Malik. Then Ms. Masood taught the writers about leaders, writers and then about how a writer can become a SMART leader. Different group activities were also held which engaged all of the participants.

Daastan, Literature, Pakistan, YWWF

Ms. Busra Iqbal Malik, Founder YWWF

Dr. Meher Taj Roghani, advisor to Chief Minister, KP, was invited as the Chief Guest who was inspired by the young girls and their endeavors and encouraged them to work for the society. Other esteemed guests included the senior members of PWWF including President Ms. Samina Qadir, Vice President Ms. Salma Qasir, Gen. Secretary Ms. Farah along with Ms. Zoobie and faculty members of Islamia College and University, Peshawar.

After the workshop, a certificate ceremony took place where Ms. Taj handed over certificates to all the participants of the workshop as well as the organizers which included Ms. Marina Mahsud-President YWWF, Ms. Duaa Mujeeb-Overseer YWWF, Ms Sidra Amin-Press Secretary YWWF, Ms. Neelum Afridi-Stage Secretary YWWF, Ms. Namra Rauf,-Finance Secretary YWWF, Ms. Mahnoor Hayat-IT Manager and Ms. Hira Nazir-Head of representatives.

The ceremony ended with President Ms. Marina Mahsud’s vote of thanks and group photo of all the participants with the esteemed guests.