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Week 12: Literature and Arts as Critique and Resistance

Filed under: Uncategorized — fatimashahbaz at 4:18 pm on Tuesday, December 10, 2019

For this week’s piece, I engaged with the anthology of Urdu Feminist Poetry titledĀ We Sinful Women: Contemporary Urdu Feminist Poetry, translated by Ruksana Ahmed. The anthology of poems was created in order to subvert the idea that the tradition of Urdu poetry was dominated by only men. It traced the origins of Urdu poetry and its slow transition from something of mere aesthetic significance to the political powerhouse of Iqbal, and sets the stage for the feminist poetry that follows. Poetry that both embraces and defies literary expectations. The author writes about Fahmida Riaz, who made the deliberate choice to use more “accessible Indic language” in her poetry, and avoided Sanskritized or Persianized words that India and Pakistan’s governments manufactured to increase difference (Ahmed 4).

I couldn’t think of a better parallel to this anthology than the 2018/2019 Aurat Marches in Pakistan. They shared the revolutionary spirit of these poets. They subverted the idea that politics or protest is a masculine art form, and attempted to be as inclusive as possible in nature. In order to honor the writings of Pakistan’s feminist poets and show that the fight for equality is never ending, I decided to make depict one of the poem’s as a protest poster. The women of Pakistan cannot be put in a box, they cannot be suppressed or defined. They are liberal and conservative. Critical and acceptance. Muslim and not Muslim. But above all else, they are powerful. I chose the poem, “We Sinful Women”, and made a slogan; “hum gunaygar auratein qhamosh nai raenge” or “we sinful woman will not stay quiet”. In creating the design, I wanted to make sure that it was as inclusive as I could make it, and made the deliberate effort to choose women who appear to be different levels of “sinful” (whatever that’s intended to mean), and those of different skin tones. Moreover, I chose this slogan in specific because I felt like it spoke most to the poem, and the idea that women cannot be silenced with moralistic terms like “sinful” or “dirty”.


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