Merits of literary criticism highlighted
KARACHI, March 17: “Nerve-wrecking experiences in life have cast their effect on everything, be it religion, culture, or creative writing. Now the gap between a writer and readers seems to be widening. Apart from this, lack of acceptance of literary criticism has led to the decline of literature in the region,” said a budding poet, Ambreen Haseeb Amber, at the launch of the seventh edition of Makhzan, a yearly literary magazine published from England, at the Arts Council Karachi on Monday evening.
The launching ceremony of the magazine was organised by the literary committee of the Arts Council.
Poet and scholar Himayat Ali Shair presided over the ceremony, while the magazine’s editor, Maqbool Elahi Shaikh, was chief guest.
Dwelling on what is usually described as the decline of literature in Pakistan and its causes, Ms Amber said: “These days popular poetry has replaced serious and classical poetry, while in fiction suspense and romance has been in vogue.”
She said that writers for their lack of acceptance of literary criticism had somehow developed a bridge with their readers, compromising their creative writings.
She praised Maqbool Elahi Shaikh for being able to print a magazine in England which would help in grooming writers as it also gave space to criticism on the creative pieces that it published.
Poet and journalist Sarwar Javaid lauded the contribution made by Makhzan in the literary world. He, however, disagreed with the widely held view that the public has lost interest in reading. He said: “There are 23 different digests being published here, with each having a circulation of 2,000 to 5,000 copies. Keeping this in view, one cannot say that there is lack of readership,” he observed.
He said that readers of all ages appreciated the writings of eminent and skilled writers published in such digests.
Professor Sahar Ansari, poet, scholar and president of the Arts Council’s literary committee, showed the magazine to the audience.
He also put up a 10 rupee note given by Mr Shaikh on auction. What made the currency note so special was the fact that it was signed by arguably one of the best poets of the Urdu language, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi. The note was auctioned at Rs3,500.
Maqbool Shaikh, in his address, thanked the team and friends.
He said that they got no subvention whatsoever and they mailed the magazine to people who had signed up for it without charging them. Then he referred to the hardships that came his way while compiling this magazine.
He said: “We invited novice writers settled in England and abroad to contribute to our magazine along with the seasoned ones.
“However, it was a Herculean task to convince well-known poets and writers of the subcontinent to critically analyse these new comers,” he said.
Himayat Ali Shair not only praised Mr Shaikh for coming up with a brilliant idea about the magazine but also passed a few tongue-in-cheek remarks. He said it was interesting to note that the editor’s date of birth matched with the publication date of Makhzan (the old one published in 1901 that carried Dr Iqbal’s poem), as both happened on April 1. He said that the magazine was a great literary movement.
At the end of the programme, the editor presented a copy of the magazine to Himayat Ali Shair.