Fahmida Riaz, our new Aqleema
(From The Wire. Link to the complete article given below)
Fahmida Riaz, who passed away on November 21, informed the reader in her first collection of poetry, Patthar ki Zuban (The Language of Stones), that she would not write any poem until it forced her to that extent. She said she did not write the ghazal because she did not want to write for the sake of rhyme and metre, and also that she would not write for more than three or four years – because then she would have nothing to say.
This was in 1966. She wrote this preface at the hostel of the Government Girls College in Hyderabad in Sindh. She was barely 20.
Until then, many of her poems had been published in the journal Funoon, and she had thanked Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi for encouraging her. The poet he was encouraging would be one of the best Urdu writers at the end of the 20th century. The next 50-odd years also disproved Riaz’s prediction that soon she would have nothing to say. She gave us several volumes of poetry and at least four great novellas. In addition, she wrote Adhura Aadmi (Incomplete Man), a book adapted from the psychological and social analysis of the psychologist Erich Fromm.
She gave us a translation of selected poems from the entire oeuvre of the Iranian poetess who died young, Forough Farrokhzad, titled Khule Dareeche Se (From an Open Window). Other stories were published from time to time, and one read her book reviews, essays and other translations. She also wrote two books in English.
But first we return to those years following the publication of Fahmida Riaz’s first volume of poetry. Not only was there an individuality in her themes and her refusal to be ensconced within the customs of Urdu poetry, but along with that, the visual display of her poems was dignified and beautiful, and there was transparency in her tone.