August 9, 2011

Faiz Ahmad Faiz

Faiz Ahmad Faiz (b. British India/Pakistan)

Faiz Ahmad Faiz was born in Kala Kader, a village in Sialkot, Punjab in what was then British India in 1911. His father was Sultan Mohammad Khan and his mother, the Sultan's youngest wife, Fatima.

Faiz was sent, as is standard in a Muslim family, to the Masjid or mosque for religious studies at an early age. Later he attended the Scotch Mission School for an academic education, and then transferred to Murray College, Punjab for an intermediate education. Among his influential teachers there were Yousuf Saleem Chisti, who taught Urdu, and Shams-ul-Ullamah Syed Mir Hasan, the professor of Arabic.

Faiz acquired a M.A. at the Government College in Lahore in English Literature, and then attended the Oriental College, also in Lahore, to obtain an M.A. in Arabic Literature.

In 1936 Faiz created a branch of the Progressive Writers' Movement in Punjab, serving as Secretary, and editor of its monthly magazine, Mahnama. The year before he became a lecturer in English at M. A. O. College in Amritsar, and soon after at Hailey College of Commerce in Lahore.

Faiz briefly joined the British Indian Army, and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1944. Three years later he resigned his post, returning to Lahore to become the first chief editor of the Pakistan Times.

Faiz had joined the Communist party early in his career, and throughout the 1950s and 1960s he worked at promoting the cause of Communism in Pakistan. His involvement with the military headed by Major General Akbar Khan, who attempted to overthrow the Pakistani government, led to his imprisonment and a sentence of death. He was released four years later.

In 1959, he was appointed as the Secretary for the Pakistan Arts Council, working in that position until 1962, spending much of his time abroad, particularly in London.

Returning from London in 1964, Faiz settled in Karachi, where he was appointed Principal at Abdullah Haroon College. Later, he continued his career in journalism, working as editor at the Pakistan Times and the weekly Lail-o-Nihar. The 1965 war between India and Pakistan brought him to the Department of Information, but the bloodshed in the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan distressed him, and he wrote several poems of distress.

With the overthrow of Bhutto, Faiz went into into exile, where worked as an editor for the magazine Lotus in Moscow, London, and Beirut, returning to Pakistan finally in 1982.

Faiz's major contribution, however, was his poetry, which is seen my many as the most notable modernist poetry in Urdu. Among his major works are Naqsh-e-Faryadi (1943), Dast-e-Saba (1952), Zindan-Nama (1956), Mere Dil Mere Musafir, and Sar-e-Wadi-e-Sina, all of these books collected in Nuskha Haa-e-Wafa.

Faiz also translated numerous works from English Russian, Balochi, and other languages. The poet also wrote several plays.

In 1963, Faiz received the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union. His work was also nominated several times for the Nobel Literature Prize. In 1990 he was posthumously awarded Pakistan's highest civilian award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz.

Faiz died on November 20, 1984 in Lahore, at the age of 73.

BOOKS OF POETRY (selected list)

Naqsh-e faryadi (1943); Dast-e saba (1952); Zindan nama (1956); Mizan (1964); Dest-i tah-yi sang (Lahore: Maktabah-yi Korvān, 1965); Harf harf (1965); Sar-e vadi-ye sina (1971); Mat¯a`-i lauh o qalam (Karachi: Maktab-i Dānīvāl, 1973); Rat di rat (1975); Intikh¯ab-i Pay¯am-i Mashriq : manz¯um Urd¯u tarjumah (1977); Sham-e shahri-yaran (1978); Mere dil, mere musafir (1980)

Poems, trans. by V.G. Kiernan (1962); Poems by Faiz, trans. by V. G. Kiernan (1971); Selected Poems of Faiz in English (Karachi: Pakistan Publishing House, 1984); The True Subject: Selected Poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, trans. Naomi Lazard (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1988); The Unicorn and the Dancing Girl, trans. by Daud Kamal (Ahmedabad: Allied Publishers, 1988); The Rebel's Silhouette, trans. Agha Shahid Ali (1991); Poems of Faiz Ahmad Faiz: A Poet of the Third World (New Delhi: M. D. Publications, 1995); Selected Poems of Faiz Ahmad Faiz (New Delhi/New York: Viking, 1995)

For a good selection of Faiz's poems, click below:

For a large selection of audios and other information, go here:

For a more substantial biography of Faiz, click here:


Julietdiadem said...

If i may, i'd like to suggest that Gulzaar's name be included in this prolific list. He writes unlik any other writer from India. His poetry is contemporary and unusual.

However, the English translations are very poor (to say the least), even the ones officially sanctioned by the poet. However, i think it's essential that his work be included, as he writes in the most startling of ways.

Shahzaib Khan said...

Faiz Ahmed Faiz Poetry is one of the greatest poetry in Pakistan and he is an historical poet no doubt.