Interviews

“I loved the trend of reading good books and then sharing them with our social circle” – Faiza Kayani

“We are a nation blessed with many talented people but aspiring writers do not know how to have their work published. I want to help such writers so that their talent will not die,” says Faiza Kayani as she discusses her life and activities in this exclusive interview with MOIWrites.

1. Tell us about yourself?

I am Faiza Kayani. A software engineer by educational qualification and part of Civil Armed Forces. I belong from Tehsil Sohawa of District Jhelum to a family with an army background. I have remained a bilingual debater for nearly 8 years, won different prizes and trophies for my institutes. I was President of COMSATS Literary Society and worked with different societies as a volunteer for the betterment of society.

2. What inspires you to write? 

I started writing when I was in grade 6. At that time my father was posted in Gilgit and I was studying at Army public School, Gilgit. My father is a book lover. And we have a vast collection of books at home, most of them comprising Urdu Literature. I am basically a keen observer and notice daily life routine of people around me and the changing trends in society, both positive and negative, social issues around the globe particularly in Pakistan. I convert my routine observations in verses and normally write about the common issues of society.

3. Tell us about your book “Mohabbat gustaakh hoti hai”?

“Mohabbat Gustakh Hoti Hai” is my very first published book. Its genre is poetry. It’s not only poetry actually. It’s me and what is happening around me. It reflects the common things happening around us. Readers will be able to relate themselves with the poems.
4. What challenges did you face when writing this book? Team Daastan has played a vital role in this regard. Especially Syed Ommer Amer remained supportive and encouraging. The only hurdle was the lack of time. It sometimes became difficult for me to follow up in time due to workload.

5. Which authors from Pakistan and from abroad do you enjoy reading? 

Bano Qudsia is my all time favorite. May Allah bless her soul with peace. And specifically speaking about poetry, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Saghar Siddiqi and Parveen Shakir are my favorite. Juan Eliya also has a status because of his poetry.

6. Where do you see yourself five years down the road? 

Hopefully, an author with many books published in my name and I am planning to write “nasar” as well. I actually want to work for the betterment of Urdu literature and book reading. As due to advancement in technology and availability of E-books, the trend of having books in hard form is vanishing from our society. I loved the trend of reading good books and then sharing them with our social circle. That trend has faded away and I intend at reviving this trend. I want to work in collaboration with team Daastan which is already doing their job in a great manner. We are a nation blessed with many talented people but aspiring writers do not know how to have their work published. I want to help such writers so that their talent will not die.

7. What advice will you give to aspiring writers? 

Continue doing your work. You yourself are the best critic and analyst of your work. Keep on reviewing your writings periodically. It will help you in maturing your work. The more you will write the more your skills will be polished and never ever get disappointed by criticism. It will always help you in grooming.

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Interviews

Sidra Amin: “When you love what you’re doing, you never really get tired!”

Sidra Amin, Co-founder, Peshawar Book Club and Overseer, Young Women Writers’ Forum (YWWF) – Pakistan, talks about her career, passion and various literary activities she happily indulges into in this exclusive interview with MOIWrites

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1. Tell us about yourself?

It is very hard to talk about yourself when it is not being done in metaphors and there’s a word limit. I am just a 22-year-old, trying to impact everyone’s perception of planet earth and earthlings by focusing on empathy and kindness. I talk a lot, and I am very loud when I know I am making sense. I usually smile a lot, and it is not on purpose.

Currently, I am leading Young Women Writers’ Forum, Pakistan which is working to empower women writers in Pakistan. I am also a co-founder at Daastan, an award-winning literary platform working towards promoting and publishing literature. I co-founded Peshawar Bookclub and Words & Metaphors, KP’s first spoken word platform. This seems like a lot of responsibility, however, when you love what you’re doing, you never really get tired. I write and read most of the time. It is what keeps me happy. As a person, I am always cheerful, and always laughing. God is kind to me. Also, I am a healthy food enthusiast but I end up eating cakes and chocolates whenever I am sad.

2. How did the Peshawar Book Club come into existence?

We arranged a Bookay meet up in 2016, and a mutual friend told me he would like to do this more often. One month into it, and I found myself and Sameed, someone I was meeting for the first time, sitting among a book readers talking about “Forty Rules of Love”. This is how the book club came into existence. We did not have a plan, just an agenda of adding value to our meetups. Today, we have come a long way, my co-founders Sameed and Zarak have been the constant force behind the growth of this Book Club. We have arranged 22 book meetups since April 2016. We are just a bunch of people trying to bring some sane thoughts on the table over a cup of tea while the entire world is in chaos.

3. As Co-Founder of the Peshawar Book Club, what are your responsibilities?

My only responsibility is to talk and talk and talk. And trust me, the members hate me for this! I am usually moderating, and trying to get as many book readers on board. Peshawar Book Club is the chilliest place, my safe home, my escape from the everyday mundane routine.

4. You are also Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Daastan? Share your experience of working with this publishing platform?

I am no more the Editor-in-Chief at Daastan. Someone who is way better than me, my mentee Mahnoor Naseer, is now the Editor-in-Chief. I am Director Events now, focusing on managing activities on the ground. I joined Daastan when I was kick-starting my work with non-profit companies. And this was a step-up for me in every capacity, both personal and professional. I was 20, young, and just unaware of what was out there in the big bad world. Daastan was where I encountered things. Ommer, the founder grilled me by making me do things I did not have any experience of completing. He exposed me to work that has helped me learn more about myself. He put his vision and my ideas together to create Qissa– Pakistan’s first online self-publishing platform. My journey with Daastan has been nothing less than an adventure, nights of insomnia, and a lot of happy moments. Daastan gives me a reason to be happy every day.

5. Share your experience of working with Young Women Writers’ Forum (YWWF)- Pakistan?

Let’s accept it, in this society, a woman expressing her thoughts sounds like an oxymoron. When I joined Young Women Writers’ Forum (YWWF) back in 2014, it was just Young Women Writers’ Forum, Peshawar, a sister concern of Pak Women Writers’ forum. The aim of the forum was to empower women writers to voice their thoughts. A few months into joining the forum, I was selected as Press Secretary. We worked really hard, and in 2016, I was selected as Overseer to lead Peshawar, Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore chapters. That was a huge step for me. I was very young, and the presidents of all these chapters were way more experienced than me. YWWF, Pakistan is real work. We are a non-profit, so the work here is really hard. Our team comprises four cabinets, each consisting of different volunteers working day and night to make a positive difference in Pakistan. In my tenure in YWWF, we have arranged over 50 events on the ground all across Pakistan, including nationwide story writing competitions, international mentorship programs, and national and international mushairas. We have a huge network of women writers. And the forum is nothing less than a blessing for me because I can start all my initiatives here as all the four cabinets are extremely strong, and the writers in each cabinet are very passionate.

6. You were awarded the “Innovative Initiative” award at the Innovative Youth Awards 2017. Tell us about this achievement and for what project were you given this accolade for?

“Innovative Initiative” award was a surprise. I did not know I was nominated by my co-founder and my mentor Syed Ommer Amer. God is kind and always blesses us with the best. We need to keep moving forward.

7. Your future plans?

I do not plan my future. I have never done that. I just make impulsive decisions based on facts and figures and usually they fall in place. I do not say it is a good approach, but this is just how I am. I do not have any future plans for now. I am just going with the flow.

8. You earned a degree in Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering from the University of Engineering And Technology, Peshawar but your heart is in writing and reading. How do you manage to work in these two distinct fields?

I did NOT want this question here! LOL I think when you know where your heart is, it is easy to work. Earning a degree in Mechatronics was a passion, and Alhamdulillah, I have been able to put that dream into reality. Writing and reading cannot parallel it as they are a part of me. There is no competition between the two even though at every stage of my life, I have been made to feel there is. Both are equally important. I love automation. I love working in the field. And if God wills, someday I might pursue a career there.

9. As Editor-in-Chief of Daastan, what do you think are your top 5 picks of short stories submitted by writers to the three editions of “Stories Untold” competition?

I will be very honest, I only read the stories of season 3. And I absolutely loved every one of them. We had over 50 stories, I believe. And so many of them had potential. If I had to pick 5, I would go with these:

1. Memoir of a Lost Odyssey by Bhaskar Paul
2. True Justice by Naveed Shehryar
3. The Mirror Trials by Rachel Kallembach
4. Kingdom of Derya: Aitmaad and the Clan of Seven by Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
5. The Mulberry Murders by Abhirun Das

10. Your message ton aspiring writers?

Two things keep me going in life.

1. Write every day. No matter how bad you write, do not stop writing, and never let anyone stop you from doing so. Writing every day only improves your skills, even if you are just writing about your daily experiences in your diary.
2. God and the universe always rewards you for your hard work. If not in the ways you want, then in ways you can never imagine. Keep working, keep taking baby steps, and see how good things will come your way.

 

 

Interviews

Interview: Dr. Samiha Zubair is still in buoyancy of contemplating her actions

 

A doctor by profession and an author by passion, Dr. Samiha Zubair, author of Reneging Quiescence talks to MOIWrites in this interview 

1. Briefly, tell us about yourself?
Still in buoyancy of contemplating my actions of measured precursor so they will lead to fruitful results.

2. You are a doctor and you are a writer, how do you create this work-life balance?
Yes, it is so. I am a doctor and writing is my second love, though it does not make it less important. It is not so difficult as of course, I have to give priority to my profession and cater to the needs of my patients. I try myself to manage both aspects of my life. I try my best.

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3. Tell us about “Reneging Quiescence”?
It is a book about the refusal to be silenced for wrong things. That has become a norm in our society.

4. Which poet inspires you the most?
From the age of nine, I loved reading children books, comics and then began reading classics. However, William Wordsworth is a poet who inspires me much.

5. Who is your favorite writer/novelist?
Paulo Coelho tops the list, but I have also read Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer, he really makes you one with his character. Also, I was inspired by God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy so did Bapsi Sidhwa.

6. How long did it take you to complete writing Reneging Quiescence? What was the inspiration behind it?
I worked on this book from the end of 2013 till 2015.

7. What are your plans?
Let’s wait and see!

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8. How important do you think is reading for aspiring writers?

It is food for your thoughts, a digestive enzyme that helps us to nibble it into the desired product. Still, it is unique in how we mix, cook and serve.

9. Your message for aspiring writers of Pakistan?
Lost in swirl of Inspiration
Inspiration became me
Where am I?
It says it all and more.
For writers, please do not lose yourself. You are unique and if still not recognized, maybe still need to be discovered, maybe you just need a little pruning.
Do not become someone else, stay “you” for if you change we will lose someone forever. By the way, this is a quote I am planning to include in my second book.

Connect with Dr. Samiha Zubair at:
www.facebook.com/SamihaZubairOfficial

Opinion

Taimur Rehman: A Urdu storyteller par excellence

You cannot explain elegance in mere words. You have to feel its essence. Taimur Rehman is a storyteller par excellence, a shining star in today’s haphazard world, who comprehends the essence of elegance of Urdu language and literature. He is an asset of Pakistan struggling to preserve, protect and promote Urdu language.

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His fluency in communicating verbally in the Urdu language makes him the gladiator we all need in today’s age when Pakistan’s youth is distancing itself from Urdu. Calm and composed in character and eloquent in expressing his thoughts, Taimur is on a mission – to bring back to life the essence and spirit of Urdu. His initiative on social media, QASID, is a courageous endeavor as he steps into the realm of Urdu literature and makes viewers of his videos experience the lost style, taste, class and sophistication that have always been the characteristics of the Urdu language. Perhaps Urdu was never lost, it was we, the masses, who went on following the Western languages and buried the beauty of Urdu somewhere in our subconscious.

Taimur’s vision to hold Urdu narrative sessions at Kuch Khass in 2011 in Islamabad propelled him at the right direction. He has performed at various national literature festivals across Pakistan and appeared at the South Asian Literature Festival in London. Moreover, he graced the TED forums thrice. Currently, he is working on a coffee table book comprising Pakistani and Indian poets.

Taimur’s love for Urdu echoes with vigor and enthusiasm through his videos. He can read prose, recite poetry and sing Urdu ghazals with his soft voice to send you back in the 70s, 80s or 90s when Urdu constituted a major part of our life. I have been playing his videos on repeat and it is mesmerizing to experience Urdu once again. Taimur’s Facebook bio fittingly says his heart’s feeling: “Technology mera paisha hai aur Urdu adab mera nasha!” (Technology is my passion and Urdu literature my addiction).

Opinion

Thank you Zau! Keep spreading the light!

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It is certainly a sight for the ones who have literature embedded in their hearts. Holding Zau Magazine in my hands and reading its rich in vocabulary and factual in essence articles that explore the depths of literature from around the world is truly inspiring. The team of this Magazine must be applauded and appreciated for the efforts they are putting in to promote literature, learning and reading, not to mention the hours of effort they put in researching, writing, editing and compiling articles for their magazine that spells simplicity in design but shows strength in words, ideas and opinions it shares with the readers.

Returning home from the office I was greeted with a brown envelope. Sent to me by Mehdi Naqvi, I wondered what was inside. However, to my surprise, I was greeted by a beautiful pocket diary, the latest edition of Zau’s English Poetry Special and a note reading, “For Omar, Thanks for being part of the Zau Family – Editors.”

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The spirit and enthusiasm shown by the team of Zau led by their editors do make a writer and columnist like me feel proud of how effectively and with passion and purpose the Pakistani youth is promoting literature. I have no words to describe the satisfaction I received once I began reading the poetry published in this book comprising poems, translations, and an interview. As a reader, I was captivated by the designing and paper quality used in the publishing of this book while as a writer, the words of the poetry I read kept me transfixed to it. I have only begun reading this book before glancing over its many pages and I will complete it because it has my attention.

Good work Team Zau!
God Bless You!
Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

Opinion

This is cool! ‘Liberty Books’ opens in Hyderabad!

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Source: http://bit.ly/2mikJBV

It feels good to see Liberty Books spreading its wings of outlets across Pakistan. On March 3, 2017, my favorite hangout place opened its doors of its newest outlet in Hyderabad. The city of Sindh known for its Rabri, Fried Fish and not to mention a certain bakery, will not get a taste of literary finesse through Liberty Books.

This will certainly add color and life to Hyderabad’s Boulevard Mall. I am sure children and adults of Hyderabad will enjoy their visit to this bookstore that has become an icon of literary pursuit and happiness because of the range of books it offers that cover a wide variety of subjects.

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Source: http://bit.ly/2m30jKZ

According to a post published at trending.pk, Liberty Books CEO, Mr. Sameer Hussain says, “Our online store made us realize that a large population of book lovers in Pakistan does not have access to an upscale, premium bookstore that caters to their love for reading.”

 

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Source: http://bit.ly/2mlGrFM

 

Facebook group, Books & Beyond, which aims to promote reading habit among the young generation, has been abuzz with the news of Liberty Books’ outlet launch in Hyderabad. Books & Beyond has collaborated with Liberty Books for this launch which shows the enthusiasm the youth has in spreading literature across Pakistan.