Habib University’s (HU) Arzu Program of Languages and Literature launched the second volume of its Arzu Anthology at the Karachi Literature festival on March 2nd 2019. The anthology -a collection of poetry, short stories and flash fiction- provides HU students with a platform to express their talent and highlights the University’s belief in channeling the talent and creativity of students to write powerful stories.
Published by HU, the book embodies a diverse range of themes including overcoming personal struggles, alienation, interpersonal relationships, and the search for identity. Through this creativity, students were able to have greater freedom in forming their own writing techniques. The anthology is an example of the importance that Habib places in nurturing the talents of its students and making them strive for excellence.
The bilingual second edition was launched at the Beach Luxury Hotel, where the session was moderated by Dr Sabyn Javeri, Assistant Professor and Director of the Arzu Program. The chief guest was writer, critic and literary journalist Muneeza Shamsie. During the event students recited poems and short stories from the compilation in both English and Urdu, followed by a question-answer session with the audience.
Dr Sabyn Javeri said that the entire anthology had been “a liberating experience…there was lots of hard work and stress last year, but this work has been such a joy and it was amazing to work with such talented students.” She also expressed gratitude to HU for the giving students the opportunity to have their poems and short stories published. “We have a lack of a publishing industry in Pakistan and we need people who love literature to invest in it…there are people who care about this and we need your help,” she said.
The session included student Maham Insha reciting from her poem ‘Motia Gajray’ (Jasmine Bracelets), an expression of the desire to love someone, along with a barrier that prevents it. Urdu recitations included Habib Mazahir’s ‘Karbala’, Yusra Afzal’s ‘Meri Maa’ (My Mother) and Ailiya Merchant’s ‘Aks’. One of the highlights of the event was Nida Zehra Hadi, who spoke with great effort about her short story ‘The S.T.U.T.T.E.R’ about having to surmount her personal struggle with stuttering. Her short speech and the courage she exhibited generated a tremendous round of applause from the audience.
Areeha Batool, one of the students involved in the edition and a core team member, said that she was “so proud” of the contributions and that the anthology provided a medium through which “talented students had something to say.” This was a sentiment echoed by student Mushba Said who stated that all the contributors have tremendous ability and that the book is a testament to the powerful works that can be generated through creative writing.
During the question-answer session, audience members praised the immensely gifted students, with many of them saying that they were greatly inspired and heartened by the talent exhibited.