Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Shabnam's "Manbaani", a Collection of Poems

Man Baani is Shabnam Ashai's first and robust collection of poems that, I believe, is impressive on two counts. One, she has not taken the path of the traditional Urdu poet of either sex who writes ghazals with traditional meanings, words and imagery. The lover and the lover's world view in traditional poetry has remained unchanged for centuries. The nazam, however, did try to change that scenario but on the whole remained under the influence of the same traditional imagery and meanings. But Shabnam is without doubt one of those new poets who have tried to completely break away from the traditional mode of expression. The second distinction is her intense and focused stance as a feminine voice expressing with powerful language her discontent with the male dominated relationships. She uses fearless but at the same time elegant language.

Her poems in this collection, a continuum of soliloquies, is witness to her talent -- the powerful expression of intricate feelings of relationships in a fresh, thoughtful and reflective langauge. It's a saga of being. It's a woman's reflection on relationships. It's not a confrontation but a narrative full of questions without whose answers it's endlessly reinventing itself poem after poem.

Some of Shabnam's poems have been translated into Kashmiri and I expect some written originally in Kashmiri too. Shabnam's Kashmiri translations will appear in the forthcoming issue of Neab.

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