Hassan Haider – The Ingenious Poet
The brother of two sisters and the son of two doctors and ardent Urdu poetry enthusiasts, Muhammad Hassan Haider has to juggle with an extremely tough routine as he is currently pursuing his Undergraduate Degree in English from Forman Christian University and also works at The Last Word, a bookstore in Lahore. Hassan has several achievements to his name, one of the most noticeable being that he is the proud winner of Pakistan’s first ever Poetry Slam.
Hassan loves to act, and obviously read, in his free time. He also loves working at The Last Word, and one of his favorite activities over there is the weekly “Kids Reading Hour” they have. To be in direct contact with the future of this country and to be able to hopefully instill in those kids a love of reading, thinking and imagination, there is no greater feeling for Hassan.
‘I can’t wait to see these kids in 10 years and hope that they will look back at story time not only with fond memories but also as an instrumental part in the development of their personality.’
The poem that helped Hassan win Pakistan Poetry Slam is titled Little Women, and deals with the maltreatment of women through all socioeconomic strata and the abuse directed towards them by those closest to them.
‘I’m not sure what’s exclusive about it. I wrote it because I’m sick of it happening and it just doesn’t seem to be getting any better.’
Hassan’s poem received an extremely positive response, and he was slightly overwhelmed by the love and adoration by men and women alike. He was also pleased to see (but not surprised) that the men who read it not only liked it but agreed that this disease was prevalent in all classes of society and that it is high time to strive for a more just and safe environment.
Hassan is greatly disturbed by the stereotype that due to some inexplicable reason we’re inherently corrupt. No one is born corrupt; it’s something people believe they have to do to survive. Majority of people in Pakistan are honest, dedicated and extremely hardworking. It’s unfair to them that because of a few bad apples, all of the populace is labeled rotten. Hassan hopes that he will one day be able to shatter this stereotype about Pakistani people through his work.
Hassan believes that there is a lot more for him to learn. He wishes to become a better person, and wants to be able to give something back to his beloved country.
‘I am woefully ignorant; I have so much to learn. I hope I learn enough to be a productive helpful member of my family and society.’
Hassan believes that credit should always be given, wherever it is due.
‘I wrote this poem. I wrote every word of it. It would be unfair to say however, that it was conceived purely in the vacuum of my mind. I am indebted to my mentors Zainab and Zohab (founders of Pakistan Poetry Slam and internationally renowned poets themselves). I am also eternally grateful to my peers and betters who were with me in the poetry workshop that took place at The Last Word; Hamayle, Kashaf, Zoya and those as well who were present but whose names my prematurely senile mind cannot seem to recall. It was their criticism and support that molded the poem and gave it its final form. To me they are the authors and winners as well.’
Hassan also holds the view that it is not always the first position that matters. Hard work and talent matter more than mere positions in a competition.
‘I cannot wait to see what becomes of Orooj e Zafar, the runner up in the competition, a prolific writer who hails from Islamabad. I was blown away by her performance and confidence. Whenever I go back to read the poem she recited, I always find something new in it.’