Muhammad Shanazar “ Poet in Residence”
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 collected fodder and fire wood, grazed cattle, ploughed the fields and while cutting grass and splitting wood many times got myself injured. 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. But I hated dirt; when I was four or five years old, some times, I slipped stealthily out of the home and used to sweep streets of the whole village and in response I was taunted for the crime of cleaning the world.
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. Injustice and violence, even to the animals and plants, always perturbed me. The first composition was an illegible letter which I wrote at the age of six to my father who was labouring at Askardu beside the border of China. The letter was about the two murders in the vicinity but neither was I provided with an envelope to post it nor was told the address of my father therefore it remained unposted. I always remained at the back of the over-crowded classes to avoid the coercion exercised by the teachers upon the children. 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.
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 considering him an orphan child.
The vicinity I was born cared least for human life; weeping and wailing of the women during my early childhood upon the frequent murders stunned me into a state of frenzy.
The village we lived in, we were the two families of Nagyal and others forty five; they kept us engaged in litigation turn by turn to spoil our financial sources, they might take rest but we remained constantly engaged. We never shed tears over the loss but prepared ourselves for the fresh approaching calamities. Even now when I am forty six years old our family is still under the grip of litigation, my parents could not find justice during their lives anywhere; let us expect to find it at the age of seventy or eighty. Still mostly our agricultural land is occupied by other families that needs blood to get it released.
Higher Education: Constant work changed financial conditions and my parents took more and more interest in my education. I passed my SSC Examination from Government High School Mandra, and Intermediate from Government Hashmat Ali Islamia College, in Rawalpindi, graduation from Gordon College, in Rawalpindi, and 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 Government Institute of Commerce at Kahuta.
Shocks: I was severely shocked on the deaths of my parents. My mother died in a road accident, my father and uncle killed one another for a piece of land; differences among the brothers were created by the diabolic characters of the society, I heard their laughter of triumph on their deaths, here is the great deed of the society:
Alas! He lies here who did me feed,
Lo! For the truth how does he bleed,
What! A mighty pang he underwent,
No one could help at the hour of need.
Millions of Rupees I earned and millions I spent but can not forget five hundred Rupees which were charged by a corrupt Head Constable standing beside the mutilated dead body of my father on 30 th June, 1990 in Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Gujarkhan. The Head Constable was one of my colleagues and was deputed to arrange postmortem, it was the whole amount I had with me; later on I had to borrow the money to bring back home the dead body of my father.
Poetic Career: Since my childhood, poetry has been touching my heart. I felt soothed listening to songs when they were broadcast. 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". I firmly hope that all other members of the caravan of poetry will join the mission through the forum of Voices Network; let us make the world perfumed and fragrant by bringing changes into the minds, let us pick thorns, make the paths clean whereupon our children and grandchildren will walk, only a poet possesses the eyes and sees them laming with bleeding feet, if thorns are not removed. it was my good luck that in December 2002, I found VoicesNet I through Internet and I was awarded the International Special Distinction of “Poet in Residence” and Voices Network placed me among the great poets of the world; all this seems to me incredible. I reached here creeping through the crisis, as I experienced, “Poetry is an expression of heart piercing thoughts combined with the emotions flowing from the Greater Mind to the Receptive Mind when both function at a certain indescribable fleeting frequency. The Receptive Mind works wonders performing the task of centuries during these ephemeral moments revealing the curtained truths of the time and place in which Man exists.”
I exhort the intellectual leaders to work on uni-direction; there is no time to concentrate on the romantic, amorous feelings or existence of love when human life is under the shadow of missiles and nuclear and chemical flying weapons.
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.
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 to the posterity of the good men is much better than hoarding gold and wealth, the cause of disruption."
So far I have written more than two hundred poems of a high intellectual level. A few among them are on mind baffling realities, regarding Man's links to 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 awarded me for promoting children's literature in Pakistan. I am the author of three books ‘i- Gems, ii-The Cold Stars iii- The Dance of Darkness’. The other two books ‘Voyages and Visions' and 'A Tuft of Poems’, are also coming soon.
I have been working with Voices Network since 2002; I conducted several poetry reading sessions in the capacity of International Poetry Ambassador. On 25 th April, 2004, I have been bestowed the biggest award by the Voices Network ‘The Poet in Residence’ at www.voicesnet.com; I am highly grateful of this recognition to Jeff Humphrey, Executive Director, Melyssa Sprot and other American Intellectuals who have bestowed upon me such honors. I am highly impressed by their fair play and justice, I am totally convinced, after all, that Americans follow some scruples; that is why they are the leading nation. After recognition, I have decided, to render my whole existence to enhance and promote Voices Network's mission to bring about educational revolution in the world through poetry.