English Poetry In Pakistan – Mused Ep 4

English Poetry In Pakistan – Mused Ep 4

English poetry in Pakistan has only recently become the ‘talk of the town’. A number of social media accounts are dedicated to writing and sharing poetry from within Pakistan. In the latest episode of Mused by Daastan, our host, Ms. Summaiya Naveed talks about the scope, status and popularity of poetry as well as issues relating to its publishing in Pakistan. Summaiya began the show with a positive note on how English poetry in Pakistan is getting better by the day. Let us look at what was discussed on the show.

1. Issues Of Publishing English Poetry

In Pakistan, publishing has become common in the past few years. Publishing English poetry, however, is a lot different than publishing prose. While editors look at prose in terms of the plot, flow of the story, characterization etc., poetry has a completely different criteria. Since the idea is expressed in very limited words, it should appeal to the reader and make a statement. There is a general misconception that anything which rhymes is poetry. This is not true. Poetry is complicated and beautiful way of expression and it has evolved as as art. But even then, it observes a few basic rules. Poetry is composed of a rhythm in units of feet— a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables combined together in a meter— the number of feet per line. A lot of editors in Pakistan do not look at these technicalities of poetry because they don’t even know about them!

2. What Is Lacking In Pakistan’s English Poetry?

Pakistan’s publishing industry is growing at a fast pace. English poetry is one area that we have explored greatly (and yet much is left unexplored). Among the upcoming young writers, there is increasing competition when is comes to English poetry publication. Since a lot of people are writing English poetry now, editors see more and more poetry book submissions. The bar is being raised and poets have to work that much more to be able to get accepted for publishing.

Having said that, a lot of poetry writers are young adults with who do not have comprehensive knowledge of poetry. This produces immature work. On top of that, an excessive use of free-verse poetry has also limited the variety of poetry being written in Pakistan.

3. How Can We Improve Our English Poetry?

To improve English Poetry, Summaiya suggested we experiment more with different poetic forms and styles. Free verse is one style of poetry that is excessively used in Pakistani English poetry. It is important that writers try new styles like Haiku, narrative poetry, sonnets etc. Summaiya pointed out that a lot of poetry writers frequently write couplets mostly. She explained that in order to reach a mark in our poetry, we need to write serious, well-designed poetry that narrates a substantial idea in a unique style. Summaiya stressed on learning the technicalities of poetry. She gave examples of poetry forms:

  • Haiku
  • Trochaic Octameter
  • Elegy

And explained these technical terms:

  • Verse : A rhythmic line arranged in a meter
  • Rhythm : A Combination of stresses in a verse
  • Feet : Units of rhythm
  • Meter : Number of feet in a verse

With this she wrapped the 4th episode of Mused. We hope that you enjoyed and learned from this amazing discussion on poetry in Pakistan. If you wish to learn more or take our mentoring services where we help you improve your writing skills, you can sign up with us at Daastan and polish your talent. See you next week with another episode of Mused. Stay Tuned!

Rhizomatic Literaties’ Book Launch

Rhizomatic Literaties’ Book Launch

What is a writer’s dream? Is writing an ultimate goal for a writer? Well, typically speaking, writing does fulfill a writer. But the dream is always way bigger and higher. Rhizomatic Literaties’ book launch, for example, is one one such dream. Becoming a published author, receiving acclaim for your talent and being known for your book is the actual dream. Similarly, our three talented leads of Rhizomatic Literaties did not settle for less. Rhizomatic Literaties is a special book for Daastan because it is composed of numerous entirely diverse minds that take you into a journey of exploration. You can read the book at meraqissa.com. Have a look at Rhizomatic Literaties Book Launch here.

A Book Launch For Rhizomatic Literaties

On 7th March 2020, Daastan arranged Rhizomatic Literaties‘ book launch at Plan 9 Tech Incubator Arfa Towers, Lahore. Literary enthusiasts from all fields joined us to celebrate this milestone in our journey. Our panel of discussion engaged the visitors in a healthy talk over struggle and most importantly, literature and publishing in Pakistan by sharing their own stories. Ms. Amanda from Australia was our guest of honor who moderated the panel discussion.

Our Guest of Honor Ms. Amanda from Australia at the Book Launch of ‘Rhizomatic Literaties’

About Rhizomatic Literaties

We take immense pride in Rhizomatic Literaties which is one of our masterpieces as per the unique and outstanding nature of the book. The idea behind this book was to bring together the hidden talent of Pakistan’s literary industry to put them on the forefront. Secondly, this book also speaks for the nature of our publishing industry that is inclusive and non-discriminatory. We promote writers from all sections of society. The 12 different narratives that make up this out-of-the-box book, showcase the diversity and celebrate the power and beauty of women in Pakistan.

One of the writers of Rhizomatic Literaties on Book Launch

Have Your Own Book Launch With Daastan

It is our mission to bring together writers, literary enthusiasts and all people who are eager to act as an agent in order to push forward, the wheel of our publishing industry. Start writing now and launch your book with Daastan. We believe you can! Sign up at Daastan and begin your journey today.

Publishing In Pakistan — Mused Episode 3

Publishing In Pakistan — Mused Episode 3

The wait is now over! We are back with our weekly review of ‘Mused’ as promised. For those joining us now, Mused is Daastan’s first Live show hosted by our editor Ms. Summaiya Naveed. Every week, Summaiya shares important and useful tips for writers to help them write and publish their work. Summaiya has been inspiring our viewers who send us positive feedback every week. This week’s show was based on 3 pertinent issues, following a general theme of Publishing in Pakistan.

1. Scope of Publishing In Pakistan

Although Pakistan’s publishing industry has been active since we came into being, the number of publishers, readers and writers have always been limited. From the get go, most of our publishing industry revolved around Urdu literature. There has been significant development of Urdu language but low literacy rates always meant fewer readers. With a lack of readers, comes a lack of buyers. Consequently, there are very few incentives for writers to publish their work. All of these reasons combined hindered the development of our publishing industry.

As of now, Pakistan’s publishing industry is, as Summaiya puts it, in a ‘transitory‘ phase. With increased focus on English language, there is a greater number of English readers and consequently, more English writers. However, this shift towards increased English readership is quite limited. Most of us do not read books beyond our school/college curriculum. Even if we do read English books, we mostly prefer reading foreign books and writers. According to Summaiya, the greatest challenge that our publishing industry is facing right now, is the need for loyal readers. One reason for this lag is insufficient support and funding for creative fields like fine art, creative writing etc. Neither the government nor our public is ready to accept the need and benefit of creatives in our society. In such circumstances, it is hard for writers to pursue writing as a full-time profession.

2. Future of Publishing in Pakistan

A lot of work is being done to upgrade the literary industry of Pakistan. Qissa has digitized the literary space to make publishing in Pakistan easier. Online publishing platforms are becoming the hub for readers and writers. A lot of young emerging Pakistani authors are now writing and publishing their work with greater frequency. However, as Summaiya pointed out, there still remains a need for experimentation and exploration. Readers look forward to unique stories, relevant characters and different genres like sci-fi, thriller, horror etc. Most writers cling to classic genres like romance or tragedy. We need to innovate and step outside our comfort zone to attract a local and global readership.

3. How can we improve Pakistan’s Publishing Industry?

Role of Self Publishers

Self publishers are those publishers who help edit, format, design, and publish your book for you. They only charge you for their services and the earnings you earn from royalties are transparent. Some self-publishers, like Daastan, also help market your book to increase sales. Recently, Daastan generated over 1 lac PKR in sales for Lareb Soomro’s “Autumn’s Curse”. Lareb Soomro is Sindh’s youngest writer who has taken over the hearts of our readers with her out-of-the-box creativity and imagination in writing.

The role of self publishers is very important in accelerating the publishing industry because this industry runs solely on readers and writers. By empowering writers, we inspire them to write and publish more. This generates a smooth cycle of writing and publishing which broadens our literary space. We unfortunately have very few publishing options available to us which limits our growth.

Role of Readers and Writers

While many Pakistani writers are making their name in the literary space of Pakistan, they still have to work hard to establish themselves, globally. As much as it is the writer’s job to produce quality work, so is the reader responsible – by supporting local writers and their books. There are very few acclaimed writers like Mohsin Hamid, who have made a name for Pakistani literature in the global market. Still, most well-known “Pakistani” writers spend either all or half their time residing outside of Pakistan. Since the publishing industry depends on reader’s demands, the more readers indulge in buying local books, the more our writers will write and as a result, the scope of Publishing in Pakistan will flourish.

Summaiya also emphasized on the need to revolutionize the concept of “Pakistani writers”. Up until now, any renowned author who is remotely connected to Pakistan has been considered a Pakistani writer. However, a true Pakistani writer is one who has lived in this country, been a part of its culture and grown up among its people. A writer who writes with Pakistani characters in Pakistani settings. This is the criteria we need to use to define a “Pakistani” writer.

This sums up our third Episode of Mused. We promise to return next week with yet another interesting live session. Do give us your feedback at merasawal@daastan.com. If you like our show, sign up with us at Daastan to keep enjoying similar content. See you next week!

#KissKiStory – A plea for Tolerance

#KissKiStory – A plea for Tolerance

Tolerance is the best characteristic in any society. Every month, we at Daastan follow a theme for our content. For this past month of February, we followed a theme of – wait, you guessed it right! Tolerance on Valentine’s Day. In a campaign #KissKiStory, we surprised our followers with a unique and interesting tale. If you missed the video, have a look at it here:


Tolerance And Kiss-Ki-Story

A lot of you went curious over #KissKiStory teasers till we finally released the video on our YouTube Channel. The video featured Daastan’s founder Mr. Ommer Amer, who narrated a story on the 14th of February. The main idea behind this story was to talk about the importance of Tolerance and consent in social relationships and how valentine’s day has become a taboo in our country. We claim our religiosity but forget one of the basic principles on which our religion stands; Tolerance. If we fail to tolerate love, how can we possibly tolerate differences or conflicts? In addition, we believe that expressing love should never be silenced or looked down upon.

Our society moreover, has perhaps been conditioned to feel above those who are different from us. We do not respect the values that others hold dear. This attitude develops an extremist behaviour and is the root cause of most problems in our society. Through a controversial hashtag of #KissKiStory, we wanted to deconstruct the existing notion of shame attached to any expression of love or intimacy. Our loud and clear message to eliminate extremism and be more accepting towards others, stood out all through the campaign.

Fortunately, we received a warm response from our followers who enjoyed watching our out-of-the-box video. We aim to keep bringing diverse and unique content for you all each month. Share your own creative ideas with us at merasawal@daastan.com and sign up with us at Daastan to engage in similar discussions on our forums.

Daastan’s Live Session: Mused Season 1, Episode 2

Daastan’s Live Session: Mused Season 1, Episode 2

Taking forward our theme of ‘The Art and the Artist – Writing a Book“, We are back with the Live session of Mused! The positive response that we received  on the first episode was a great motivation for us to bring to you, more fun, informative and useful content that will help you with Book writing. This episode was divided in three sections. Our host, Summaiya Naveed, shared some practical tips on enhancing your writing skills. If you missed the live session, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading this blog to get a summary of the entire session or just click here to watch it now!

poster for mused containing text
Mused is Daaastan’s first Live Show, featuring Ms. Summaiya Naveed, Editor Daastan

What we discussed

In this Live session, there were three main concerns that Summaiya put forward. All of these issues highlight the difficulties faced by young authors in writing or publishing their books. The first segment dealt with:

1. Common Mistakes In Book Writing

In the first section of this episode, Summaiya talked about the common errors that most writers make while writing a book. First and foremost is the issue concerning tenses. While writing anything, we are usually taken aback by a stream of emotions. This diverts our attention from using proper tenses. Very often, you keep shifting from one tense to another which then affects the story. To avoid this, you must make a conscious attempt to keep proof-reading the story over and over again to alter any such errors.

The second mistake pointed out was regarding plot holes. Summaiya explained the concept of plot holes in detail. She defined them as any gaps that a story-line leaves which consequently fails to make sense of the story to the reader. This plot hole could be a hanging conclusion, a half-baked character or even introducing a new character mid-story and failing to weave them in with the rest of the story. Summaiya also highlighted that plot holes count as a weak story-line which again, leaves a bad impression on the reader. To keep your story strong, make your protagonist and each supporting character reach a conclusion. Any story-line left incomplete will weaken the weight of the plot of your story. To fix this mistake, she suggested we emphasize on important events in the story. Summaiya gave the example of the novel, ‘Hunger Games‘ in which, the ending of each chapter marks an important event. In this way the reader can predict an upcoming event and brace themselves for it.

Lastly, summaiya talked about flat characters and a robotic tone. Both of these mistakes are almost the same, as they involve a lack of insight into the world of your story. A robotic tone, summaiya explained, is flat, factual writing. By stating events of a story or attributes of the character it is hard to keep the reader glued. The reader wants to know where exactly is the story coming from. Providing descriptions that a reader might relate to will help them connect with both, your story and the characters.

2. How to fight Writer’s Block?

Writer’s block is a temporary condition when an author loses the ability to produce creative content. Summaiya explained in detail, that writer’s block is not permanent and does not mean that you can never write again. A lot of writers do not talk about their writer’s block due to the stigma attached. This does not help them, rather adds to their stress and anxiety. Another reason for writer’s block is neurological disturbances. By sharing a recent research on writer’s block, Summaiya pointed out that stress, anxiety or other neurological problems trigger the writer’s block. To fight this situation, it is important to maintain your mental and physical health. Talking to friends, family or fellow writers at literary groups on social media will help you overcome this phase and resume writing.

It is also helpful, Summaiya suggests, to not be hard on yourself and take a break. During this time, explore another creative activity that you might find interesting. Writing freely, without any limitations or requirements may also help in this case. Sometimes, we are unable to write because we have to constantly follow guidelines. Writing for yourself, with no set rules or fear of criticism can help you fight a block. For some people, making changes to their surroundings can also be refreshing. Change your daily routine, fix your cupboard or just treat yourself with your favourite food!

A lot of people have this pre-conceived notion that writers are sad, depressed souls who have climbed an Everest of tragedies. Young authors thereby are particularly inclined to feel sad and unhappy in an attempt to become better writers. It is however, only a misconception that all good writers are unhappy people. Mental health is a very important factor in improving your writing skills and tackling a writer’s block.

3. Why do Books get rejected by Publishers?

Another problem faced by a lot of new writers is rejection by publishers. It is important to know why publishers reject your work and what are they looking for? Summaiya puts it in a very simple way for us to understand.

1. Predictability of your Story

Firstly, she talked about predictability of your plot/story. A very basic story is one where the upcoming events are quite obvious, everything goes smoothly and all characters reach a happy conclusion. Such stories become quite tedious and monotonous. A story has to have something that keeps your reader gripped, curious and connected.

2. Misuse of Punctuations

Secondly, bad punctuations is a big issue for editors. The first thing a publisher will notice about your book is technical errors. If you have a badly punctuated structure, you instantly leave a bad impression. To fix this problem, summaiya suggested we revise our punctuations and read as much as possible to learn.

3. Inconsistency and Lack of Innovation

Third and equally important, Summaiya discussed the problem of inconsistency and lack of innovation. She explained how as an editor herself, she comes across a lot of manuscripts that look very promising in the beginning but get de-tracked mid-way. Either the writer loses inspiration to write and just rush to the end of story, or they start dragging events by adding too much unneccesary details and the reader’s interest is lost. Furthermore, a lot of writers refrain from exploring new techniques or ideas and simply follow a pre-existing linear timeline. To explain this point Summaiya used the phrase “Old is not gold in writing”. By this, she meant that readers do not want to read about the same topics or stories over and over again. She also urged writers to write on relatable topics that are relevant today.

4. Plagiarism

Last, but definitely not the least, came the issue of Plagiarism. In countries like Pakistan, there are very weak rules and regulations regarding intellectual property. In such countries, intellectual theft and plagiarism are big drawbacks for writers. Plagiarism is basically stealing someone’s content and using it as your own. It is a crime to steal someone else’s work and also ethically incorrect to do so. While most of us do not directly steal ideas, we take inspiration from a work and fail to give credit to that particular person. It is thus important to provide a reference of whatever you’re taking inspiration from. Facts, data or information that you use in your own research should also be cited or quoted.

This wraps up our second Live session of Mused. We hope to keep bringing new, informative episodes to help you with writing. If you share our passion of writing and want to contribute in this mission to develop the literary Industry of Pakistan, sign up with us at Daastan. Stay tuned and catch the next Live session this week!

The Right Way to Argue About Corona Online!

The Right Way to Argue About Corona Online!

It all started when Professor Pervez Hoodbhye wrote an article on Dawn titled ‘Corona – our debt to Darwin’ where he was raising this point that how biological science is the hope to control this Corona pandemic.

Thanks to biological science — the foundation of which was laid by Charles Darwin — the coronavirus will eventually turn out to be a deadly but controllable affair. Its final worldwide death toll may run into many tens, or perhaps hundreds, of thousands. Still, compared to the toll exacted by pre-scientific era plagues, this will be small. Your life may well be saved by some yet to be invented drug or vaccine. All beneficiaries of modern medicine should surely forgive Darwin for his supposed transgressions.

Pervez Hoodbhye

What’s promising about Hoodbhye is that he uses science, logic and objectivity to look at the things rather than claiming that religion will somehow solve things. He tries to educate an illiterate nation who trolls him a lot on his social media page. However, he continues to do the good work.

The Logical Criticism on Hoodbhye

Today, was somewhat different. We came across someone who went after Hoodbhye with scientific facts and tried to prove him wrong. His name was Daniel Haqiqatjou who provided detailed arguments on how and why he believes Darwin’s theory to be obsolete. He referred to various researches, scientists and researchers who share his beliefs. This debate was in light of the current Corona Virus situation. According to Daniel Haqiaqtjou, as a Muslim, he firmly believed that any such evolutionary change can only be God’s work and must only end with His will. Here is the original post he shared:

Pervez Hoodbhoy Fails in Science and in IslamHoodbhoy, the Pakistani secular modernist, has taken this opportunity of …

Posted by Daniel Haqiqatjou on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Logical Rebuttal

Under his post, Arif Jan wrote a long reply which refuted Haqiqatjou’s argument on the redundancy of Darwin’s theory. Arif provided a counter argument, equally well-backed, loaded with references of books, researches and studies to prove otherwise. In his opinion, Haqiqatjou only picked references that went along his own claim. Have a look at Arif Jan’s counter argument in a post shared by Syed Muneeb Ali:

There was this article written by the Daniel Haq.. In which he tried to counter Dr. Parvez Hoodbhoy's recently written…

Posted by Syed Muneeb Ali on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Who won this debate on Corona?

We would leave that to the audience who can read and decide who is right. What we loved was that how an argument was formed, refuted and countered with facts. This is the kind of evolution we wish to see on social media.

Also check out : #MoonControversy on social media

Remember that whenever you post anything online, it reflects you and the way you think. Validity of news and researching the facts before arriving at conclusion is the need of the hour. Corona Virus is rattling the global economy and we have no idea how much more damage it will do. One thing which we, as individuals can do is backup everything we say or post online with facts.

Another key thing which we loved was that the discussion was civil and to the point. The speakers spoke based on their scientific intellect and understanding. This debate is a fine example of how to argue online and turning these virtual battlefields into healthy and informative platforms!