LAHORE: A session on ‘Pakistani Poetry in English’ was the best on the last day of the first International Conference on Pakistani Literature in English at the Kinnaird College on Thursday.

The session was chaired by Dr Waseem Anwar. Reading out her paper on “English Poetry of Shahid Suharwardy,” Muneeza Shamsie said Suharwardy was one of the earliest English language poets from the subcontinent in the pre-partition era as his first poetry collection “Faded Leaves” appeared in 1910, set in colonial Bengal. Terming Hassan Shahid Suharwardy as the first modern English language poet of the subcontinent, Shamsie said he broke away from colonial style of writing and found his own voice.

“Poet Alamgir Hashmi considers him the father of all English language poets of Pakistan.” Shahid Suharwardy was born in 1890 and was elder brother of Huseyn Shaheed Suharwardy, she said, adding that he tried to incorporate Urdu influence in English poetry. She compared his poems with Ezra Pound’s and discussed various sections of the second collection of Suharwardy, Essays in Verse, published in 1937. He had migrated to Pakistan in 1948.

Poet Ilona Yusuf spoke on the new voices in English poetry, saying English language poets were existing in a vacuum and not very much noticeable, however isolation did not deter them from writing. She said these poets also faced issues based on language due to socio-political conditions.

While referring to earlier poets like Taufiq Rafat, Daud Kamal, Maki Kureshi, she talked of next generations. Alamgir Hashmi explored multiculturalism. She said Waqas Khawaja was the precursor of the political poetry and he was followed by Kyla Pasha from the younger poets.

“Pasha had influences from the Pakistani languages and her poems show influences of Sufi poetry of Punjab,” she said.

Mahmood Ahmad of the Government College University discussed his thesis on “Multiplicity of Perspectives in Taufiq Rafat’s Poetry” and tried to investigate the poet’s relationship with his language, love and relationships. Ahmad pointed out how Rafat saw his beauty in local women, embracing the beauty of the land and abrogating the language of the Raj. Nadiya Amir evaluated poetry of Zulfikar Ghose in her paper.

Ayesha Barque read her paper on “Energy in the Poetry of Shadab Zeest Hashmi”.

Later, a talk was held with two young novelists, Kanza Javed and Zeenat Mahal. Kanza while talking about her debut novel, Ashes, Wine and Dust, said she was inspired by the stories of nannies and common folks in the village of her grandparents who gave her impetus to write about the real life.

“Political and religious violence is happening in Lahore and the only thing to look up to is its glorious past,” she said.

A session was held on Athar Tahir’s The Last Tea where papers were read on the book.