By Mudassir Raja
Poetry is a way of expressing personal emotions. It is a medium to convey one’s observations and experiences to others through beautiful words and verses. It deals with different kinds of poetic themes and versatile topics since it reflects all aspects of our lives.
Urdu poet Jalil Nizami believes that poetry is not all about rhymes and meters. “It is about conveying novel ideas and thoughts through poetic expressions,” he conveyed while interacting with Community recently after a poetic symposium for a select gathering.
Nizami, who lived and worked in Qatar for over 40 years, is convinced that all sorts of subjects can freely be discussed through poetry. “Focusing primarily on Urdu ghazal, it is a genre of poetry that encompasses all sorts of subjects ranging from philosophy to mysticism. Though, the genre was initially meant for topics such as love, beauty and loyalty. Similarly, Urdu poems are variedly used to convey multiple topics and subjects.”
Nizami, who is called Shair-e-Khaleej (Poet of Gulf) by his fans, is convinced that poetry is a reflection of contemporary society. “A poet cannot remain detached from his or her surroundings and societal happenings. Poets are considered a sensitive segment of the society. A creative person feels or observes society more intensely than common people in the streets.”
Nizami, who has also earned respect in India as a serious and convincing poet, calls poets ‘wordsmiths’. “In the Arab world, it is said that poets are God-gifted human beings. However, a poet brushes up the gifted ability through his or her conscientiousness and the company he or she spends time with. Every human being who is conscientious can be a poet. However, he acts like a wordsmith and uses words in a beautiful way to express his or her feelings.”
The Urdu poet does not consider intermittent poetic symposiums an essence for promotion of the language and literature. “In India, Urdu is fighting the battle of its survival. People are more inclined towards Hindi script than towards the Urdu script. They have not been able to get the real essence of Urdu language. Similarly, contemporary poetry in Pakistan has more characteristics of Arabic and Persian than Urdu. Urdu is actually a big bag of Hindi, Arabic and Persian languages. Urdu as a language can flourish if poets continue to follow the set patterns and traditions of the earlier poets.
“The number of Urdu readers and writers, particularly in India, are decreasing. If there are no Urdu readers, I think the poetic symposiums are not going to help the real cause of the language. However, mushaira serves as an exclusive platform for poets to express their feelings. Earlier, Bollywood films were also a source of promotion for Urdu.”
The seasoned poet does not seem satisfied with the standards of the contemporary Urdu poetry. “Young people in Pakistan’s Punjab have been writing beautiful poetry. However, I see by and large the contemporary poetry is devoid of emotions and deep feelings. The work is more rational than emotional. A good poetic couplet comes straight from a heart and touches other hearts. The sublime and lofty poetic thoughts and expressions shown by classical poets are least visible in the contemporary works.”
Nizami is not satisfied with the work he has been doing for over 40 years. “I was a student of Majrooh Sultanpuri, a well-known Urdu poet and lyricist. However, I have not brought out any poetic anthology of my works. Though I have enough material that can make at least four poetic books, I am however still not satisfied with my work. I continue to improve upon my earlier ghazals and works. I am planning to bring out my first book early in 2020.”
Nizami wrote his first naat (poetry praising Prophet Muhammad PBUH) when he was in sixth grade. “Since the beginning, I was convinced to imitate and follow the standards set by classical Urdu poets. I started reading the classics and with the passage of time, I mustered courage to write down my own poetry.”
The well-respected poet regrets the fact that people in general start appreciating the creativity and achievements of a poet only after his or her death. “People tend to celebrate a poet only after his death. It is very common in sub-continent. People shy away from recognising the greatness of a poet in his or her lifetime.”
The long-time resident of Doha, however, Nizami appreciates the activities related to Urdu taking place in Qatar. “I have seen many ups and down in Qatar. There are Urdu lovers busy in arranging different activities to promote the language.”
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