The Pakistani writers community has long been under-appreciated. A lack of recognition, funds and opportunities have resulted in a stunted growth of our literary activities. Despite showing promise, attaining Government funds has been out of question. This episode of Mused looked at this aspect of the writers community in Pakistan. Two special guests joined our host Summaiya, in a discussion over writers in Pakistan. Their main concern was the unfortunate fact that pursuing a career in arts is still not accepted as a viable option in Pakistan.
Guests From Writers Community
We were joined by two immensely talented writers and founders of Rhizomatic Literaties, Ms Anum Sajid and Ms. Fuzeela Zubair. Anam Sajid is the Initiator and Creative Head of Rhizomatic Literaties. She is an educationist who believes in building an egalitarian book culture in Pakistan. She moreover promotes and celebrates amateur literary diversity. Fuzeela Zubair is the Project Manager of Rhizomatic Literaties. She is a book blogger. With Rhizomatic Literaties, she hopes to take a step towards expanding the reading culture in Pakistan.
Anum and Fuzeela shared their experience of publishing their first book with Daastan. The writers expressed how Rhizomatic Literatiesis more than a book for them. Their book is a movement towards building a literary community and empowering young writers. Anum and Fuzeela talked about the barriers that our writers’ community has to go through. The biggest barrier, according to them, are writers themselves who shy away from publishing due to a fear of rejection. Giving the example of instagram writers, Fuzeela explained that Pakistani writers need confidence the most. Even if we are not producing good content, we should keep putting up our work to improve the standard. She believes that fear of being judged overpowers a writer. She therefore advised us to not look at writers only with the intention of criticising them.
Advice For Young Writers
Anum and Fuzeela talked about fear in writers while publishing their work. They pointed out a progress in Pakistan’s literature in terms of exploring genres like fantasy. This progress itself highlights the acceptance on part of the reading community. Anum also mentioned that our writers community does not require facilities rather opportunities. They suggested writers to write consistently. Anum explained the contribution of self-publishers in our literary space. Platforms like Qissa have played a huge role in promoting literature in Pakistan.
Rhizomatic Literaties and Women Empowerment
Anum and Fuzeela now await the second volume of Rhizomatic Literaties. This volume carries a basic theme of Female Empowerment. Their main aim behind choosing this subject is to normalize discussion on women. The book will explore how women are independent and unique in their own way. This volume will also break all stereotypes related to women and showcase their diversity. We hope that their book receives all the love and attention it deserves. Anum and Fuzeela have without doubt inspired many young authors and we thank them for their struggle in our cause.
We thank our viewers for supporting and liking our Live sessions. It gives us hope to see your positive feedback. Share your own suggestions for future discussions and write to us at email@example.com. If you like our content, Sign Up with us at Daastan!
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like our show, sign up with us at Daastan to keep enjoying similar content. See you next week!
While our favorite drama serials are littered with heart-warming Urdu dialogues that we can’t help but memorize; and while we believe Urdu to have a glorious past and a bright future, we might be wrong about the latter.
Urdu, as we know it, is a language that has survived alongside the Muslim resistance in colonial India. The “Urdu Movement” started back as early as the fall of the Mughul Empire, when the language was at the risk of falling into disuse because of foreign rule. Championed by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan in its initial stages, it became one of the focal points of Muslim identity and the struggle to keep it alive was only second to the struggle for independence.
So, where did our language come from?
This is how much a layperson knows about the importance of thi language. If we trace our steps back, we come to know that the language has evolved from the Apabhraṃśa register of the preceding Shauraseni language, a Middle Indo-Aryan language that is also the ancestor of other modern Indo-Aryan languages. (Parekh, 2011). If we wish to go back even further, we find that it is also one of the modern languages which evolved from the Indo-European language group, which is turn is the predecessor of P.I.E (Proto-Indo European).
But while it is relatively easy to understand where our beloved language came from, the current situation of Urdu– be it in literature, education or everyday speech– makes us question what path is the language on presently? And how will it affect its future?
The Future of Urdu
Recently, we shared a post on Daastan’s Facebook page about bilingualism. It explained how being a bilingual could affect how we use our languages. On particular commenter, in a long and informative comment, presented counter-arguments about the utility of bilingualism. He went on to say how, as a trilingual himself, he had experienced difficulty learning Urdu, as compared to the other three languages he knew. This he attributed to the fact that Urdu was a language with “no utility” and would “die out miserably” along with Pushto. Have a look at the post here:
Da’knights Opinion on Urdu language
HEYO EVERYBODY! HERE’S A BIG LONG POINTLESS RANT WHICH ENDS WITH AN ANGRY SPITEFUL AND EMBITTERED TAKE ON URDU! YAY! NOBODY ASKED FOR IT, NOBODY WANTS TO READ IT, BUT EVERYONE SUFFERS BECAUSE OF IT! OH JOY!!!
1) As a trilingual heading to quadralingual, you are MORE likely to remember words in the language you speak most often because of its constant utility. Suppose a word doesn’t exist in Urdu (I mean, come on, with the last official grammar standardization done in 1898, that is the biggest understatement of the year), or it doesn’t exist in some regional language only 300,000 people speak. Supposing this, you have a choice: Submit the word for consideration in the dictionary of the language, assuming that it has a council which accepts words; just borrow words.
You know why English, Spanish, German, Persian, Arabic, French, Italian, Turkish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and virtually all other languages except Urdu are an easier series of languages to learn but Urdu and Pushtu are going to die out miserably? Its because of deliberate psychological stunting done by pathologically hypocritical societies which – unlike English, Spanish, German, Persian, Arabic, French, Italian, Turkish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and virtually every other language except Urdu and Pushtu – take ownership.
The Oxford English Dictionary became a standard BECAUSE EVERY SPEAKER OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE CONTRIBUTED TO IT. Punjabi grew as a language because of the Sikh community (it is not just their language of communication, but also their language of lithurgy). Urdu has a council which doesn’t do anything other than live on the dole, and the idiots constituting L1 speakers of Urdu are too caught up in their own shit to contribute to this language’s development.
And while we are on the topic, Urdu is a pygmy language that should fall under the Semitic language family, whereas English, Spanish, German, Turkish (post-1921 language reformation), and Italian are Latin rooted. Granted that Spanish and French are Romance languages, while English and German are Germanic, they still are written in the latin alphabet (whereas Urdu has become an example of Abjad scripts being Romanized and not being allowed to evolve properly).
You, are capable of finding the exact word you are looking for, if you use the same language family. And specifically in language family clusters which have been allowed to grow and groom.
2) Notes in multiple languages are actually a good thing. Why is this a problem? HOW is this a problem?
Oh wait… THIS was an overreaction, sorry about that.
3) Truth be told, this is a lie. And here’s why:
POINT NUMBER 1. And furthermore:
ISO 639 Check: International Language Standards. And while we are on the topic: Persian has existed as a living language in its spoken form for at least three thousand years. In its written form, it has had three scripts. Arabic had a script form BEFORE it became an Abjad which is of significant importance for multiple reasons. What does Urdu have in its favor? Read: A Critique of Languages
Coming back to the first point I made in this big long rant. I am fluent in English. It is my primary language. My secondary language is German. And my tertiary language (which I am learning) is Spanish. And I hope to become quatralingual by learning French. I do not count myself as a fluent speaker (even though I have read Naseem Hijazi, I have read Ya Khuda by Qudrutullah Shahab to completion.Every time. Because it has no utility, and unless we as the people of the country of Pakistan, decide that this language will simply become extinct and be beaten like a dead horse by every single snob and shithead of the country.
The sixth most published language in the world, by sheer volume of publications, is German. And these include scientific and academic works. In point of fact, Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, English, and Russian all have more publications in all sorts and structures.
The UN languages of the world are Arabic, Chinese, French, English, Spanish and Russian.there.
Publications, prior to 2000 in this language do not have ISBN numbers. Furthermore, publications made in the late 90s (even reprints from as late as 2019) still use the handwritten scripts submitted to include in the publication. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author’s script was literally just tossed in as is rather than being typewritten. And it could have been, because InPage did not come into being until 1998, and typewriters specially developed with Urdu had entered the market and still are in use. I know, because I own one.
People still read in the country… to what end? It is a national language, NOT an official language. dramas and radio and all these medium only count if you are referring to people who do not have access to Netflix. And even these are exceedingly, almost neurotically, formal.
National Book Foundation, the government publisher which is open to all members of the public as a source for anyone to get their stuff put on paper, does not publish poetry anymore. Nor does it publish in English. You know why? it is a sunk cost, and with it, it is also a loss maker. They do not get a return for what they publish. I know this, because I went there myself to see if I could publish my own book. And for what it is worth, I’ll just get it self-published rather than go through the dilemma of publishers generally.
If anyone would like to go ahead and prove me otherwise, please, go for it. The fact is that Urdu does not have any intrinsic value to the people of Pakistan, and when you have elite assholes who do not WANT it to have any value, I do not see why I should give a shit about it. I have a documented history of German (which is unbelievably awesome in its own right), and the same for English (which is fascinating), Spanish, Persian (the language is so much more satisfying than Urdu, which might as well be the bastard child which Persian is better off forgetting), Arabic (the more I read about Arabic, and its origins and how it developed, the more I come to realize how important it is as a language), heck the same is the case for Swahili and Afrikaans, which have lesser speakers than Urdu yet have more development and standardization than it. And with all these, I think it just makes more sense to highlight Urdu as a failure of a language, that I can’t relate with. And if anyone wants to relate with it, more power to them.
Shehroze Ameen’s comment on our Facebook Post
While we understand the frustration of a linguist with the limitations of Urdu, we cannot form an opinion or understanding of the matter without first reviewing some key facts about Urdu. Only then, can we be sure of what we say.
About The Language
Urdu language is an amalgamation of a number of languages including Persian, Arabic, Turkish and Hindi. Itenjoyed its development in the 14th and 15th century under the Mughal rulers. It was, however, not the official court language of the mughals. Famous poetry and prose was written during this time. One might think why during this golden period of Urdu literature, had there been no formal documentation of the language. It is perhaps because this langugae had no history of its own. It borrowed whatever traditions, from its parent languages that are Persian, Turkish and Arabic mainly. Since there was no method of compiling a history in these parent languages, Urdu too, remained so.
Development of Urdu under the British Rule
Urdu flourished significantly during the British rule, perhaps as a force of rebellion. Anjuman Taraqq-e-Hind was found in Aligarh in 1903 by Nawab Mohsin-ul-mulk. It was the center for promoting and developing Urdu language in the sub-continent through publications. Even after partition, the Indian government and the Bureau for the promotion of Urdu have largely contributed to the codification and standardization of Urdu language. A 100 000 technical terms have been created in Urdu language and around 600 books published on academic subjects. After independence, Abdul Haq established Anjuman Taraqqi e urdu‘s office in Karachi.
During the Pakistan movement, Urdu became a symbol of Islam, uniting muslims across the sub-continent. When Urdu came into being, its central role was communication amongst people belonging to different cultures, regions and religions. With the Pakistan movement, Urdu became an identity. Once Pakistan came into being, Urdu was shaped into a political agenda; claiming precedence over the Bengali speaking Pakistanis. When Urdu was declared as the national language of Pakistan, a natural split emerged between the various ethnicities within Pakistan.
Urdu’s journey from pride to shame
As Bangladesh came into being and Urdu won its status as the national language, attitude towards Urdu also changed. Urdu speakers became English-enthusiasts and education in English began to be promoted. There was nothing else to be conquered, hence, Urdu fell from being the agent of change, to a glory of the past.
To think of Urdu as a dying language would be too radical a statement since even today, it is spoken as a first language by almost 70 million people and by a 100 million more as a second language. However, Urdu lacks modernization which has perhaps been one of the reasons for the lowered interest in the language. Unfortunately, western education system has further created a class consciousness in the people, associating fluency in English language as the benchmark for being well-educated and belonging to the upper-class. A loss of connection to Urdu with the rest of the world is also apparent in the fact that fewer books are being translated in this language and vice versa.
Is There A Conclusion To This Endless Debate?
It is thus, a sad truth that Urdu lacks significantly as compared to many foreign languages. There is no denying in the fact that interest in the language is falling greatly today. But despite this, Urdu is surviving and doing so with dignity. Millions of Urdu speakers, readers and writers not only enjoy the language but also take immense pride in it. To call Urdu a dying language as of yet, is rather harsh, but it is indeed, in a gradual decline. It is now in our hands to save the grace of this language by promoting and encouraging writers to keep breathing air into this beautiful language. We here at Daastan, work for this very purpose and so can you by becoming a part of our struggle simply by signing up with us at Daastan.
For any budding writer, publishing their own book is ‘The Dream ‘. Most writers dream of publishing because they are also enthusiastic readers and know the value of a good book. The more books we read, the more we want to have. To own it is yet another privilege. Good readers eventually become good writers and the bigger this circle grows, the better informed a society becomes.
With the fast-paced life that we have all become a part of, it is very important that we emphasize on staying connected and rooted. Reading good literature is the easiest route to widening your horizons. It is the writer who enables a reader to leap into another universe simply by delving into the palm of their hands. Are you that writer who wants to share your universe with the world? Here are 5 ways we can help you publish your own book.
Steps To Launch Your Own Book
Step 1 : Composing the Book
Daastan aims at connecting readers and writers by publishing, digitizing,marketing and distributing books to promote a literary culture in our society. We start by helping you compose your book. Composition is the key to a success. Composition includes editing and formating the text, building the structure of the book and adjusting the tone and style of your writing according to the theme of your story.
Step 2 : Designing the Cover
Once the content is streamlined, we design the cover. For that, we work with the best designers to develop an attractive and catchy outlook of your book. Although it is politically incorrect to judge a book by its cover, it is unfortunately exactly what happens most of the times. Simultaneously, our editor works on the text by proof-reading and editing to ensure a faultless masterpiece.
Step 3 : Marketing your Book for Sales
When we are done with the Behind-the-scenes tasks, we approach yet another vital task: Marketing of the published books. Through our social media platforms, we market books to reach the maximum public. At this stage, we help you arrange a book launch and attract as many buyers as possible.
Step 4 : Distribution of your Book
After marketing and building up customers for you, we distribute your books for sale in shops, and through the online book distribution services of Literati Choice. We make sure that you are kept aware of all your sales. We deliver the sold books to your customers and hand over the sales amount directly to you.
Step 5 : Let’s Get Started
The above-mentioned stages are very important while self-publishing your book. Publishing in Pakistan is challenging because there are limited channels and options available. Daastan helps in making this task fairly easy and successful. You alone cannot carry out all the essential stages of writing and publishing. For that, we here at Daastan make sure that the best editors, designers and marketing team is made available to you all under one roof.
It is then in the hands of the readers to help promote local writers and to develop the habit of reading as part of self-improvement. A well-read society has very little fear of failing and falling. Through reading, we not only explore unique ideas but also learn from the experiences of others which helps us improve our problem-solving skills. Even if you’re not interested in writing, reading nevertheless develops your communication skills. Good readers therefore, also become good listeners and good speakers!
If you are the writer we’re talking about, seeking to publish your Dream book, here is your best chance at Publishing your work. Sign up with Daastan and take the first step towards achieving your goal!