Monday, June 2, 2014

LIFE OF A POET - ANJUM WASIM DAR

This week, my friends, we are flying overseas to Pakistan, to meet with the poet Anjum Wasim Dar, who writes at Poetic Oceans. I think this is our first poet from Pakistan, so I am thrilled. Hop aboard, as we set out to explore Anjum's beautiful country.



Sherry: Anjum, I am so pleased to be meeting with you! 




Anjum: I am above all else delighted to represent my beautiful majestic country, and my peace loving people. My family is prominent in the fields of Education, Teaching,  Medicine,  and, of course, Writing...my father was a very senior Army Doctor Col Abdur Rashid (veteran of WW2, '65 and '71 wars with India). Pakistan is our adopted country, and we are from Kashmir

Grandfather Maulvi Mohammed Hasan B.Sc  B.T. Kashmir, was a Professor at  King George Royal Military College, Jhelum City, Pakistan, after migration (1950's). He wrote poems in the Urdu Language, mostly on request. He never published his writings. I learnt the Arabic poetry meter system from him. He had learnt  English, Persian, and Urdu. He knew Shakespeare’s numerous lines  by heart and had translated the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, ‘The Hound of Baskervilles,’ in Urdu.  I remember Father solving crossword puzzles with him.


Grandfather Maulvi Mohammed Hasan, 
 first Muslim B.Sc.B.T. from Kashmir

My father’s love of nature, books, music and literature was the building background for my learning development. I remember reading the Readers Digest, Life, and Times Weekly and the Statesman newspaper as early as class three. Our home had a renaissance environment, full of poetry sessions, and home movies (16mm screen and reel projector shows). Popular were the Laurel and Hardy shorts.  Father loved Scrabble and spent his free time solving crossword puzzles. Books would come all the way from the Companion Book Club in England, and I got the chance of reading classics at a very young age.

My Parents on their wedding day 
Srinagar, Kashmir, 1942 

Sherry: Your family sounds wonderful, Anjum. Exposed to literature as a child,  no wonder you became a writer!

Anjum: During the Second World War my father served in the Royal British Medical Service as a Captain posted at Java with the British Indian Medical Unit. My mother, elder sister and myself, as you can see in the photograph, were helped by friends to reach the new country.

This is what our family was then......


In 1965, I had just graduated from high school when War with India was declared. 
It lasted for 17 days.

My School Principal, Respected Mother Immaculata, 
at the Presentation at the Convent Rawalpindi, 
and Respected Teachers.

1970:  I married after graduation,  but got the Masters Degree in 1991 as a ‘Back-to-College Mom’. I was a Mom to three kids, a son and two daughters.

Sherry: You have a remarkable family.  Your father survived three wars! I can't begin to imagine what he went through. I think you have enough material to write a riveting memoir, my friend! How old were you when your family came from Kashmir?

Anjum: I was just a year and a half. Our family came separately in caravans, some in trucks, and protected by the army soldiers and volunteers. My father joined the Pakistan Army Medical Service and was allotted  a small two room house where the family got together as they crossed over to the new country. It was a new start for all.

Sherry: I find in each interview something amazing at the heart of the story. You have lived through some important history.

Anjum: I don’t remember Kashmir and I could never return. This is a dream, perhaps one day…now I can see photographs on the web. I only know what my parents and elders told me, mostly that it is a heaven on Earth, a most beautiful place.

Sherry: I have heard that in Kashmir, "one sits in the lap of the gods". I  love your happy birthday poem to Pakistan, and would love to include it.

Happy Birthday, Pakistan

My Dear Homeland You belong to me
I belong to you~ 23rd March was the day
we all specially remember and pray
with respect love and hope
may we hold tight the Faith Rope'
An idea it was so true a dream
that one nation one people one stream
I think about you all the time - you are a gift
may no enemy part it cut or may shift
O people come together gather
All peace love and gratitude
its time to Thank Almighty change attitude'
It is your Day the 23rd of March

Happy Birthday -Keep high the Faithful glowing torch.


Sherry: Your love for your country shines in these words. So now, Anjum, please tell us about your life today, in Rawalpindi. What fills your days?




Anjum: My life today is woven mostly around my family, my grandchildren, baby sitting and part time home tuition. I have had the chance to serve my country as an English Teacher and Educational Manager.

Sherry: You have such beautiful grandchildren!!

 

CER Home Office Yard at Rawalpindi-working with local children



Creating Environmental Awareness 
–celebrating Earth Day


It is wonderful that you still work with children, Anjum. When did you begin writing?  Do you remember what it was that led you to picking up your pen and writing your first poem?

Anjum: My mother would always encourage me to write, specially a diary…I remember noting down daily events and in my school days (1960s) The Diary of Anne Frank  became famous. Father’s army service  built up the historical knowledge about World War Two and later I witnessed the two wars (1965 and 1971) myself. 

Sitting silently during blackout listening to patriotic songs on the radio  had a deep impact on my writing. I realised how nations were inspired to compose words and record acts of heroism and then I understood the work of our Great national Poet  Allama Mohammed Iqbal who put forth the theory of a Muslim Nation.

I wrote my first poem at the age of 12. It was in Urdu and a description of some  family members whom I found rather odd and funny.  But my real first poem was ‘ Winter Sadness and Spring Happiness,’ which was published in the local newspaper: Pakistan Times Children’s Page (in the 1970s)

Sadness and sorrow fill my heart
When I see the leaves silently leave the tree
Without a cry without a sound
One by one they come to the ground
Rolling over and over they go round and round
The cruel wind has no mercy
Standing quiet and motionless
the tree is then totally helpless
But bravely the loss it will bear
Without a sigh without a tear
Lo bright sunshine is everywhere
The days of waiting are over?
“If winter is here?
Can Spring be far behind?’
It is approaching with its
glowing green cover
The tree blossoms happily
For it, Life has returned
A message of Hopeful  Happiness it brings
To All people, and  All things;
Winter Sadness melts away
Spring sunshine tenderly awakens
 the sorrowful sleeping Earth;
Hark ! I hear the birds, sing!!!

Sherry:  You were off to a wonderful start, with that poem!  What do you love about poetry?

Anjum: Poetry is ‘the creative art  of words’. I love the imagery it helps me to manifest, the satisfaction it brings to my soul and spirit, the joy of sharing and, above all, it connects me to the Creator, as I use His Gift to show my gratitude. Poetry brings me closer to people whom I may never meet or see, but they read and share my ideas, thoughts, and love  as I share theirs. Poetry helps me to guide people, as this is the function and role it should play.

Sherry: Is there one person in your life  you feel had a significant influence on your becoming a poet? Tell us about that person and how he or she influenced you.

Anjum: My parents. My father who provided the knowledge, background, shared the love of learning and literature, and my loving mother, who kept encouraging me to write, though she never appreciated the art work. For her, drawing was a waste of time.

Sherry: I also know that our grandmothers have a very strong influence on us. Do you have a story about yours? Did she travel with you when you migrated from Kashmir? 

Anjum: My grandmother gave me my name: Anjum (it means a Star - but in our social setup it is taken as a boy’s name) My grandmother expected a boy ( I learnt later in life),  but the Lord sent me…a girl…My name still lands me in the male category where ever there is a registration…Once my university exam center turned out to be a Boy’s school. I was the only female candidate…Oh Dear, they thought I was a boy…now ID cards are compulsory, but I have no more exams…

Abbottabad, the Hill Station - my father loved it, 
as it closely resembles Kashmir 
with its cool weather, hills, pine and fruit trees.

Sherry: Abbottabad looks beautiful! You write brilliantly in English, which is no surprise, given you took your Masters in English and History. Have you always written in both languages? 




Anjum: Yes, I have written some poems in my native language Urdu, but mostly I write in English.

Sherry: I see you are a freelance journalist. Tell us a little about that?

Anjum: I always wanted to work in the Print and Publishing Industry. In college I was Editor of the students magazine and wrote reports of college events for the local newspaper. Later I started writing short articles for ‘The Muslim' (local newspaper). I wrote for a year. I became a correspondent for the Women’s Own Magazine (published from Karachi) and for 3 years my articles on social issues and family life were printed in the feature ‘Random Thoughts.’ In the Teachers Training Institute of the Fauji Foundation,  of the First Educational Journal for Teachers, six  Issues were prepared and published. It was a great success ( 1999 ) Besides Teaching, I assisted in organizing our First Educational Journal for Teachers at the Institute.It was taken with great positivism.

Sherry: You have been very productive, Anjum!

Anjum: Women writers and Editors inspired me. Loved the works of Charlotte and Emily Bronte and later read George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. In poetry I admire  Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, and Maya Angelou. Among Urdu poets:  Allama Mohammed Iqbal and Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib are my favourites.

Sherry: And you are an artist. Tell us about your painting.




Anjum:  I started drawing and coloring in school as early as in  Kindergarten. I remember the sweet scented wax crayons and black drawing paper. The effects were so good. I would have been a professional artist  had I pursued my gifted skill of drawing, sketching and painting (water color- color pencils-oil based crayons and now Digital art work in the Software ArtRage  and My Paint). Artwork is a hobby I love, and so do all my grand children.

I favor Nature landscapes and abstracts.





Sherry: Your art is very whimsical and appealing.

Anjum: I can mention here two novels  -adventures of pencils’ – 'Adventures of the Multi Colored Lead People' (NANOWRIMO 2011 winner), and  'Pencileeze Forest Mystery', (NANOWRIMO 2012  winner), during National Novel Writing Month ( USA-International).




The main characters are pencils. These stories are inspired by Alice in Wonderland and Madam J K Rowling, (author of Harry Potter).  Both are unpublished yet, and  I am illustrating them myself. May the Lord help me to complete.

Sherry:  I know you will complete them, and they will be wonderful! Your illustrations are beautiful, and very professional.

                

Anjum:  My poetry ebook, Oceans of Emotions, is available at  BookRix  here. And  Eternal Lights can be found here.

Sherry: Good for you, Anjum - two books!

Anjum:  I also manage my own Educational Firm, CER Creative Education Resources, from my home office. I plan and conduct EFL/ELT/Environment Awareness workshops, Events and UNEP guided programs,. CER (Regd 2004) is a partner of EDN Earth Day Network USA [CER Professional Development]


Sherry:  That is important work.  Do you have a poem written by you that you are especially pleased with,  that you would like to include here?


10th International Poetry Convention Washington USA 2000 

Anjum: The poem ’Dear Teacher’ which won the Semi Final Bronze Medal in the Poetry.com Competition and an Invitation to visit USA to attend the 19th International Poetry Convention at Washington in the year 2000. It was a highly memorable visit. A chance of a life time. I found USA as very colorful, beautiful, peaceful, and historical. Washington, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and  Buffalo, New York were the states I saw as we traveled by road.




Sherry: Congratulations, Anjum! That is quite a feat, winning an international competition.

Dear Teacher 

Teacher, I saw you, a paragon of excellence
dignity and grace; above all
inspiration and confidence . . . abounding;
Teacher I knew then, the load of books would be light,
the road to knowledge would be bright,
ignorant darkness lit up . . . astounding;
Teacher, you gave me strength courage and hope,
as fear melted with time, lost vigor came . . . rebounding;
But Teacher, why did you turn away for another world,
smiling far into the heavens,
leaving me with dark heavy clouds . . . surrounding;
OH teacher, now where shall I find,
Your confident smile, Your inspiring approach,
Your words of hope, that made my task so easy;
My steps are heavy with despair . . . mounting;
Dear Teacher, listen, if you can . . . I shall try to reach my goal;
Without you . . . the path is hard to traverse and cold,
Your thoughts are All the Strength, I hold;
If I succeed, I will know, the pain will go,
The sun will shine, bright and fair, Teacher Dear, you were always there.

Sherry: You have captured the student's gratitude so well. When you aren’t writing poetry, or painting, what other interests do you pursue?

Anjum: I am knitting .I knit for my grand children and for new born babies.


  


Sherry: Is there anything else you would like to say to Poets United?

Anjum: Long Live Poets United! I am deeply grateful  for the opportunity to share my life events and my poems, and also for the ‘creative connectivity,’ to know talented writers as yourself, make so many friends, and to be part of the wonderful community of creative writers. Thank you so much, Poets United.

Sherry: Thank you, Anjum, for this interesting visit to you, your family, and your native land. It has been most interesting and enjoyable.

Another week, and another poetry pilgrim making her journey. I love my job! Do come back and see who we talk to next, my friends. Who knows? It might be you!

30 comments:

  1. Wonderful and all-inclusive interview, Sherry. It was nice to get to know you, Anjun. I have enjoyed your poetry & will appreciate it even more now after reading about all the facets of your life and creativity. Thanks to both of you!

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    1. I am most grateful to Sherry and All at Poets United for the honor.Thank you Mary and Welcome. I am at a loss for words ~ Sherry has beautifully brought forth the color, memories and Allah's gift of words of my life.

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  2. Wow, Anjum! Your achievements fill the world and overflow. How students must love you, and how pencils must come alive at the touch of your imagination. Congratulations on your 2000 win and your publications and works in progress and your own business. Have you retired from working enough to have the writing time you deserve? I want to read more about your family and especially about the choice to leave Kashmir. Thank you for spending time with Poets United, for giving Sherry such an amazing interview, and for writing. Never stop.

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    1. It is all the Lords Blessings Thank you. I would love to share as indeed there is a lot more about history in the region and the Migration from Kashmir. I work on my own and the Internet is now the social connector.

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  3. what a cool story...so interesting on your family history...and i def enjoyed seeing your art as well...very cool on your poem and the trip you received as well...nice to get to know you a bit more...smiles.

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    1. Thank you Mr Brian as Shakespeare said 'There is more than meets the eye' Life is full of wonders and surprises.

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  4. Sorry, Anjum, and fellow poets....the power was off all afternoon as I was chomping at the bit to get in here. Smiles.........Anjum, I am happy you like the interview - you gave me the information, all I do is transcribe it....I DO think you have the makings of a very interesting book, given your family history. I could have happily done the entire interview delving into the stories! I look forward to reading more of your work.

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    1. Yes its great work Thank you so much. May be some day a book will hit the shelves.I am greatly encouraged and honored.

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  5. What an amazing interview. I love the poem and the art. Nice meeting you.

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  6. Anjum, your journey is a beautiful, inspiring one. I am so happy for you and your achievements as I am in a way similar to you that I just love everything English literature. God bless and good luck to you!!! thanks Sherry for this wonderful post. :)

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    1. Thank you Mr James Literature is a true reflection of life.

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  7. Congrats on all you have accomplished-you are a Star! I am so happy you found a way to express your creative side. You are so talented!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind and loving words.

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  8. Doesn't matter whether it is India or Pakistan, we all have same religion" humanity". There might be great division or tensions between the two countries, but people of both the countries want peace . Nice to know your view Anjum ji.

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    1. Welcome and Thank you Respected Leader Mr Gandhiji said 'An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind' So we all are for Peace for All.

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  9. Wonderful interview, Sherry. It is so nice getting to know you Anjum and your amazing writes. Indeed Kashmir is like heaven on earth. I really wish that you can visit it someday and see for yourself...smiles.

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    1. Thank you Ankita for your kind appreciative words and thoughts. Indeed it is a dream and I believe dreams do come true that One Day I may see...for real....Insha allah

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  10. Anjum, gracias for sharing you with us. your name befits you. i continue to feel that my aura fills with light and gets brighter and brighter every time i become aware of the world around me and those that are like me of flesh and bone and water and earth.

    Sherry, gracias for your kind gifts to us by bringing us these extraordinary people

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    1. Thankyou, Gracias Mr Marcoantonio 'Stars shine but are reflectors of the Golden Light which shines through People who believe like your goodself and who make the world bright for others.

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  11. Nice to meet you Anjum and thanks for sharing your poetry and art with us. It comes form a completely different set of experiences and culture than I have experienced and is so very interesting to see your view. I really like the colorfulness of your art. I've always been attracted to very colorful art and your's is so lovely.

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    1. Thank you so much Mr Stormcat. Sharing knowledge opens new vistas. Artwork is a favourite activity along with poetry, where poems have words, drawings have color.

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  12. Anjum, what a rich and fascinating life you have lived...your creativity is incredible. I loved reading about you and your poems are deep and profound. Thank you for sharing a little about yourself with us!

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    1. Thank you Sherri for your lovely thoughts and kind words.My work is a Blessing of the Almighty.I am grateful that I was able to share with all creative and talented writers and artists here.

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  13. Anjum, amazed at your life and the things you did. Being an Indian I have a special affection for your country and its people, a sort of brotherhood if you call it. Anyways thank you Sherry for bringing us closer to Anjum and her amazing life. Kudos to both of you!

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    1. Dear Mr Anand Thank you for your profound regard and affectionate feelings.I appreciate your kind words. Indeed Profound gratitude for Friend Sherry for making it all possible.

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  14. Anjum, you have lived such a beautiful life with a wonderful attitude despite the hardships. May your art continue to shine as the star that you are.

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  15. Thank you Moonie When I see the struggle the strife and wars I find more to be grateful for in life. Allah has blessed uncountable gifts and such talented affectionate friends whom I have never met and may never meet but they are present.Thank you so much.

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  16. Another lovely interview, Sherry, with another fascinating person!

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