Baqar Mehdi – Diversifying Literature
“It started off as a 4 pager which later led me to initiate a quarterly Art and Literary Magazine”
Baqar Mehdi who is specializing in psychology and Education, was driven by his personal passion for Literature which led him to design a platform to preserve Urdu Literature – one of the dying modes of expression in Pakistan.
From a very young age, he started writing poetry and developed a strong love of literature, both Urdu and English. During his undergrad he started a bilingual literary magazine called Zau (ضو) where exceptionally talented young poets from all around the world publish their work.
Building on personal interest was not enough and this motivated him to Zau – He wanted to work on a formal platform for emerging poets, writers and critics where they could express themselves. Sternly believing that literature has the ability to humanize us when we seem to be forgetting what it truly means to be a human.
“Zau is a humble example of taking the initiative to follow one’s passion”
Through Zau, other young people have also been inspired towards literature and that is seen in magazines like Parwaz, which is another effort by the students in Karachi, to preserve our culture and identity through literature.
“As an editor of a literary magazine which is increasingly becoming international, I am helping in showing a picture of Pakistan which is very different from the radical, extremist picture often portrayed by the international media.”
From its beginning, Zau has been a bilingual magazine, publishing prose and poetry in English as well Urdu. The most recent issue, the 17th one, is an English Poetry Special, with poems and translations by a diverse body of poets including, Pakistani, Indian, American, Vietnamese-Japanese, and Syrian-American among others. We have also published an exclusive interview with Rafiq Kathwari, the award-winning Kashmiri-American poet, along with three of his poems.
The poetry in the 17th issue covers a broad range of themes, ranging from love, interpersonal relations, mortality and immortality, justice and injustice, refugee crisis, feminism, sufism, meditation, and many more.
“My favourite from this issue is a small three-line poem by Farzeb Zaidi, a graduate student from Pakistan, which so aptly captures our inner struggles with ourselves:
It’s different now
Our comfort zones
Are our war zones”
“My little contribution to the American society and culture by portraying an image of my religion and country which is, at odds with the negative perceptions propagated in the media is an effort to change perceptions.”
By contributing and facilitating exchange of literature across cultures, Baqar aims at initiating intellectual growth and exchange of ideas for constructive inquiry and criticism.
Interview & Written by Anum Nawaz