Issue 0007
May 29, 2003

International Poet Profile

Muhammad Shanazar was asked to tell us about himself, his writing inspirations, his country, and a little about the education systems in his country.

Name: Muhammad Shanazar

Country: Pakistan

Age: 42 years

Education: M.A in English literature from the University of Punjab

Writing Experience: Started writing poetry in 1998

Hobbies: Writing poetry

Poetry Style: Philosophical

I remember that my younger brother and I were given a pair of slippers that we used to wear alternately between going to and coming back from school on hot afternoons.

I always remained at the back of the over-crowded classes to avoid the coercion exercised by the teachers upon the children.

Early age/Schooling: I was born into a poverty stricken family in a village, Sahib, Sub Division Gujarkhan District Rawalpindi, on November 25, 1960. I was brought up in a pastoral atmosphere very close to nature. I can clearly recall the days of my infancy, finding around the dunghills, the cattle and ricks of fodder, I formed the opinion that it is the whole world where I came to live in.

We lived in a house made of stone and mud, but well maintained by my mother. My parents were going through very hard times when I was first sent to the local school bare foot with a wooden slate in my hands and a heavy satchel on my back. I remember my younger brother and I were given a pair of slippers that we used to wear alternately on going and coming back from school on hot afternoons. I always remained at the back of the over-crowded classes to avoid the coercion exercised by the teachers upon the children.

My father served in the Pakistan Army. He often told us that he was recruited by the colonial rulers when he was only 10 years old. On the day he was recruited, he wore only a shirt given by someone from the neighborhood to him as an orphaned child.

The weeping and wailing of the women during my early childhood upon the frequent murders in the vicinity stunned me into a state of frenzy.

However, I enjoyed myself during this visionary period playing in the yards surrounded by the low walls with the vivacious friends whom the callous tides of the time had separated from me.

Higher Education: Constant work changed financial conditions and my parents took more and more interest in my education. I passed my SSC Examination from Mandra, the Government High School, and my Intermediate from Government Hashmat Ali Islamia College in Rawalpindi, graduation from Gordon College in Rawalpindi, and an M.A in English literature from the University of Punjab.

After education: Post graduation I served three years as constable in the Police Department. I found it uncongenial to my temperament and decided that I had to leave it behind me. Luckily, I came upon an opportunity from the Department of Education (Technical Wing) to render my services as a lecturer in English language and literature. After holding this position for seventeen years, I have recently been promoted to Assistant Professor, now serving in the Government Institute of Commerce at Kahuta.

Severe Shocks: I was severely shocked at the deaths of my parents. My father was murdered in 1990 and my mother died in a road accident in 1996.

Poetic Career: Since my childhood, poetry has been touching my heart. I felt soothed listening to songs when they were telecast. Injustice and violence, even to the animals and plants, always perturbed me. I started seriously writing poetry with specific philosophy behind it in 1998. I chose English for expressing the voice of conscience. I am an optimist regarding the results and objectives to be obtained through poetic endeavor. The prime objective I am working for is to make humanity aware that "A single drop of human blood possesses more worth than all treasures the Earth contains".

Literature to create awareness among individuals, as well as nations, to protect the world, its resources, its beauties and spheres for the coming generations is the noblest deed ever demanded.

I exhort the intellectual leaders to work on uni-direction; it is no time to concentrate on the romantic, amorous feelings or existence of love when human life is under the shadow of missiles, nuclear and chemical flying weapons.

There is no greater responsibility for the men of literature than to work for the collective cause irrespective of caste, creed or color. I am of the firm belief that behind all major changes and revolutions there have been the functioning of the greater minds; if it is so, let us then use the force of our powerful pens to make the world understand that, "Giving posterity to the good men is much better than hoarding gold and wealth, the cause of disruption."

So far I have written more than one hundred poems of a high intellectual level. I have also written poems on mind baffling realities, regarding man's links with the extraterrestrial world, the secret working hands, the workings of the human soul, and the perception of the human mind. My poems contain enough material for the psychological study of human existence. I concentrate only on the quality of my work and I am hopeful for a bright future.

The Government of Pakistan's Ministry of Education recently commended me for promoting children's literature in Pakistan. I have published a children's book called "Gems".

Education in Pakistan: Our educational system is still passing through a series of experiments. We blindly borrow and then follow the ecucation systems and reading materials of other countries that are alien compared to our environment.

We can divide our society into following sects:

1. The Heavenly Sect sends their children abroad to the highly sophisticated institutions for schooling. They have nothing to do with the affairs of the common men; they come to rule the country and leave when they are out of the rule. They keep their money in foreign banks.

2. Well-to-do or Prosperous sect sends their children to the institutions well organized by the private sectors.

3. Moderate Sect sends their children to the institutions with average level functioning.

4. The Poor Sect contains the men and women of the society working for daily wages; teachers, civil servants or laborers. They send their children to the institutions run by the government, where there is a lack of teaching staff, insufficient equipment and a sub-standard teaching and learning environment. These children are under-fed and overburdened by the home assignments from the school teachers. Mostly the students are spoiled or at least they do not reach the level that their natural abilities deserve.

5. The Poverty Stricken Sect of the society has nothing to do with education or any changes taking place around the world. They send their children to workshops or hotels to work, or they have them busy collecting salvageable items from the heaps of garbage. To rescue them from such a quagmire is a great challenge for people possessing humanitarian hearts.

English in Pakistan: As far as English in Pakistan is concerned, the students as well as parents have the craze to learn the language but inexperienced teachers hinder them from learning the language correctly. This inexperience will also mar their performance at the college level. Very few students as well as teachers can speak in a coherent manner. English is taught through a bi-lingual grammar translation method and more stress at the school level is laid upon reading and writing; speaking and listening are mercilessly ignored.

Article written by : Muhammad Shanazar

Edited by: Melyssa Sprott

copyright 2003

"On The Night", A Poem by Muhammad Shanazar

The beauteous bride dressed in black,

Whose fair forehead is adorned,

With a huge round piece of gold,

Glowing galaxies are fretted,

In the combed lustrous dark hair.

Always comes out after the sunset,

Walks behind the groom of day,

With modest gait, blushed shy face,

Exposing what revealing light conceals,

But hides the frail deeds of humanity.

Muhammad Shanazar, Kahuta, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

copyright 2003


In This Issue:

  1. VoicesNet Forum Moderators Burn the Midnight Oil

  2. Debating a Cake and Life's Other Important Aspects

  3. International Poet Profile

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