The advent of social media has helped revive the younger generation’s interest in Urdu poetry. However, the youth engaged with Urdu poetry on their own terms.
Most of the poetry that gains popularity on social media is not very deep, and similarly, most of the poets who gain fame on the Internet are not necessarily composing verses of high standards.
Journalist and poet Nasira Zuberi made the remarks on Saturday when she spoke about the effect of the Internet era on Urdu poetry on the first day of a two-day conference organized by Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu at Urdu Bagh to commemorate the 200 Year of Urdu Journalism.
Nasira said that a few years before the Internet began, Ibn-e-Insha wrote the following couplet: “Kuchh Kehne Ka Waqt Nahin Yeh, Kuchh Na Kaho Khamosh Raho / Ae Logo Khamosh Raho, Haan Ae Logo Khamosh Raho. [This is not the time to voice one’s thoughts, so better be silent / Keep quiet folks, yes, be quiet].”
Little did Ibn-i-Insha know at the time that soon the era of social media would turn the ethos of silence on its head, and the new norm would be “sab ka du”. [Say whatever is there in your heart]”, she added.
She noted that a positive aspect of social media for Urdu poetry is that it has helped the propagation of poetry, and now poets can easily share their creative output with a large number of readers without any trouble.
She recalled that earlier, Mushairas presented by PTV was a major source for people to know poets, but political considerations often limited the number of poets who could get on air.
Now, she pointed out, virtual musairas are often held, especially during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. She noted that among various social media channels, Facebook is most used for the propagation of Urdu poetry.
On the negative side, she said, the young generation has no time and no sense to deal with high-standard poetry, which requires time and energy to produce.
She noted that similar to the fact that classical music is not for everyone while pop music is for the masses, high quality poetry is not for everyone, while easy to understand poetry is for the majority.
She, however, named Jaun Elia as an exception, saying he was a major poet and gained a large readership after the rise of social media. She also cited websites like Rightha which have saved a large corpus of Urdu poetry.
Another negative aspect of social media regarding Urdu poetry that Nasira touches on is the propagation of fake poetry. She said that Ghalib, Iqbal and Ahmed Faraz are the three biggest victims of misinformation in this regard as substandard verses attributed to them are often shared on social media.
Remembering an incident from the time when Farz was still alive, she said that the poet had himself realized in an event that the couplet “In the beginning sah dusti ahi nahin Farz/Kcha tara maken hai kuch chaim kar” was not written. became through him. So it should not be shared and attributed to him.
Poet and academic Tanveer Anjum spoke about the evolution and current state of nasri nazm (prose poem) in Urdu. She said that Nasri Nazm, which was first written in Urdu in the decade of the 1960s, initially attracted strong criticism, with many refusing to recognize it as poetry because it had no rhyme or meter. .
However, she maintained that the debate on whether Nasri Nazm is a poetic genre has now ended, as it has already been accepted as a form of poetry. According to her, Nasri Nazm and Gazal are currently the two most popular forms in which poetry is written in Urdu.
Tanver said that one of the reasons why Nasri Nazam has gained so much popularity is that it easily captures the spirit of the current era, while the limitations of rhyme and meter imposed by other genres make it difficult to do so. Today’s poet to describe today’s world.
She recalled that she and her contemporaries met Nasri Nazm in their youth days, when they heard the names of great French poets like Baudelaire and Mallarmé, who mastered the genre in their language.
She explained that in Nasri Nizam there is no fixed system or tradition of metaphors, because of which everyday objects like a ball or not-so-poetic things like a rabbit can become a metaphor.
She was of the opinion that since Nasri Nazam mostly uses the sacred language, the young generation understands and appreciates Nasri Nazam, which may be Faiz or Nun Mem Rashid difficult to understand.
Commenting on the evolution of the genre, she said that there were three claimants to be the initiator of Nasri Nazm in Urdu: Qamar Jamil, Mubarak Ahmad and Ahmad Hamesh.
She also named Muhammad Salemur Rahman, Kishwar Nahed, Zahid Dar, Anis Nagi and Iftikhar Jalib among those who initially wrote Nasri Nazm in Urdu.