Overview for Selected Poems
One of the finest Urdu poets of the subcontinent, Kaifi Azmi has borne witness to an entire era of social change. Born in 1918 in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, in a zamindar family, Azmi wrote his first poem at the age of eleven. He joined the Communist Party when he was nineteen, and wrote for the Party paper, Quami Jung. Subsequently, he moved to Bombay, and wrote his first lyric for the film Buzdil, directed by Shahid Latif, in 1948. A member of the Progressive Writersâ€™ movement, Azmi has been an active spokesperson for several workersâ€™ unions and works passionately to rectify social injustices even today. The richness of experience and maturity of perspective is captured in his poems, which reflect the many aspects of Azmiâ€”man, lover, activist and poet. Some of his best verses are about the plight of the exploited, like the famous â€˜Makaanâ€™ which highlights a system where the poor, homeless footpath dwellers build palaces for the rich. At the other end of the spectrum are his love poems, including memorable lyrics for films that haunt the reader with their tenderness and contained passion. Azmiâ€™s preoccupation with such disparate themes are indicative as much of his zest for life as his sincerity and honesty of experience. Brilliantly translated by Pavan K. Varma, this bilingual selection brings to a wider audience the wisdom and lyricism of Azmiâ€™s poetry.
Kaifi Azmi (Author)
Kaifi Azmi is the most-awarded Urdu poet in the country. Awards he has won include the Padma Shri, the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Afro-Asian Writers Lotus Award and the Maharashtra Gaurav Award. He has also been honoured with a doctorate from Vishva Bharati University, Shantiniketan. Kaifi Azmi is also the All India President of the Indian Peoples Theatre Association (IPTA). He is married to noted stage actress Shaukat Kaifi and has two children, Shabana and Baba Azmi.
Pavan Kumar Varma (Translator)
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