Often thought to exist on opposite ends of the spectrum, Business and Performance Art form an unusual combination. Challenging the stereotypical beliefs associated with a business institute, the members of IBA Literary Society organized Sargoshiyan, an evening dedicated to poetry and literary expression on the 29th of January. The purpose of the event was to bring together various literary societies from universities all over Karachi, and to celebrate the wealth of talent possessed by the youth of the city.
The IBA Literary Society was not alone in its efforts, and was supported by the Spoken Stage team, who used the platform to host the City Final of the Pakistan National Poetry Slam. Hoping to resolve societal conflict and intolerance through a platform that encourages dialogue, Spoken Stage explores the oral tradition of poetry, contemporarily known as ‘Spoken Word Poetry.’ The organization aims to promote the art of performance poetry and storytelling to create a more tolerant and integrated society by supporting freedom of creative expression.
Promising an evening filled with music, drama and poetry, the host Khalid Omar started off the show by explaining what Sargoshiyan stands for, i.e. ‘the whispers that are not free’, and the students’ attempt to bring these whispers together to form one ‘awaaz’ (voice). The opening performances were given by the students of IBA. Shehroze Shaikh, a sophomore, delivered an original Urdu poem based on the ‘Whispers of the Night’, while Ilsa Rashid presented a sequel to a slam poem she had earlier written to her best friend.
From amongst the performances that followed by students of various universities, Shariq Hasan and Asad Aly particularly stood out. While the former eloquently described the life of Habib Jalib as a poet of resistance and compared the poetry of Faiz and Jalib through a musical performance, the latter presented his soundscape project based on the city of Karachi. Other notable performers included Shahrukh from NED, Mudassir from Karachi University who presented a tribute to Abdul Sattar Edhi in the form of an original song, and Sarah Hussain who shared her experiences on being a female writer in Pakistan.
Presenting the only play of the evening, students from FAST University took the stage to perform Banjara, a story based on the grievances of a struggling singer, a defeated boxing enthusiast, a bride-to-be, and a mother who loses her son. Personifying zameer-ul-insaan (human conscience) as the lead character in the play, the concluding dialogue, ‘yeh woh maut hai jis ki khabar nahi hoti’ (the death of human conscience is one which is not felt), left the entire audience evaluating their actions as a society.
Spoken Stage took charge of the second half of the event with twelve performers, four of whom were selected to represent Karachi at the Final of the Poetry Slam in Lahore. The judges from Spoken Stage included Nida Khan, Onaisa Abbasi, Dr. Markus Heidingsfelder, Asmara Faiq, Fatin Nawaz, and Zoha Jabbar. As part of its efforts to support the literary tradition of Karachi, the IBA Literary Society will be covering one-way travel expenses for the four finalists.
Advocating freedom of expression, Sargoshiyan explored the immense potential of poetry to turn suppressed opinions and unheard voices into something louder and more meaningful. Leaving the audience with positive feelings of freedom, hope and the will to express themselves, the Manager of the Literary Society, Safee-ul-Haque, signed off with a promise to return in April with another initiative. Titled The Narrative Karachi Calling, it will set out to explore the culture of Karachi, its people and their stories, and hence create a new platform to bring forth the voice of the masses.
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