The Launch of Dilliwali: Celebrating the Woman of Delhi through an Anthology in English, Hindi, and Urdu Poems

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This anthology, Dilliwali, is remarkably distinctive as it contains poems written not just about women but about the women of Delhi. Who is a Dilliwali, what are her thoughts, who does she perceive herself to be, what defines her, what are her strengths, hopes, and aspirations, what do others perceive her as – these are some of the points and concerns raised by the poets in this anthology. Here’s a report, for Different Truths.

Delhi by Verse, in association with Authorspress, is celebrating World Poetry Day on Wednesday 21 March 2018 at India International Centre with the launch of Dilliwali: Celebrating the Woman of Delhi through Poetry. This multilingual anthology carries the voice of 94 poets writing in English, Hindi, and Urdu and has been curated and edited by writer, translator, and poet, Bushra Alvi Razzack, Founder of Delhi by Verse. 

Delhi by Verse is a poetry group that aims to popularise poetry, nurture fresh talent and spread the joy of verse. What started as a group that posted poems relating to different aspects of Delhi, expanded to include poems on all topics. Dilliwali is the first anthology brought out by the group.

Dilliwali is a unique and important collection. There are many poetry anthologies which have poems that are women-centric. And then there are many anthologies which contain poems written exclusively by women poets. This anthology, however, is remarkably distinctive as it contains poems written not just about women but about the women of Delhi. Who is a Dilliwali, what are her thoughts, who does she perceive herself to be, what defines her, what are her strengths, hopes, and aspirations, what do others perceive her as – these are some of the points and concerns raised by the poets in this anthology.

The poems exalt the historically significant women of Delhi, viz. Razia Sultan, Jahanara Begum, Zebunnisa Begum, etc. They also talk about modern-day leaders like Aruna Asaf Ali, Indira Gandhi, and others. You see Dilliwali as an office-goer, a homemaker, a flower seller, a teacher, a maid, a photographer.The canvas is vast and the poems paint many pictures with each poet bringing forth her or his thoughts, emotions, and interpretations of the theme. This book salutes the Dilliwali in all her avatars.

Many poems talk about Delhi’s Braveheart or ‘Nirbhaya’. Any talk on women of Delhi recalls the issue of safety and security and this automatically takes our thoughts to the hazards a Delhi woman faces in this respect. There are poems in English, Hindi, and Urdu saluting this soldier of Delhi who fought valiantly till the end.

Dilliwali reflects a movement in the psyche of all the sensitive human beings who, with their creative pieces, have not only presented the pains, miseries, sorrows, injustices and angst of being a woman in a Dilli, which is not gentle or sensitive enough but also reflects the grit and determination with which a woman doesn’t just survive, she thrives!

The 94 contributing poets include seasoned poets who are well-known across India and overseas, as well as new talent who have not been published before but have immense promise and potential. The youngest poet is 13 years old and the senior most, above 70. Well known Urdu poets Gauhar Raza, Dr. Iffat Zarrin and Nomaan Shauq have also been featured in this anthology. Poems by poet-diplomat Abhay K. feature in the English section. 

The 158 poems have been divided into 4 sections – Poems in English (plus one in French), Hindi, Urdu and then Urdu poems in Devnagiri script. The Urdu poems presented in the Urdu rasm ul khat reiterate that the language is very much alive and thriving. These poems have also been repeated in Devnagiri script so that they are not lost on the reader.

The elegant and unique cover image of Dilliwali written in calligraphy incorporating the three languages used in the book is the work of noted pictorial calligrapher, Qamar Dagar. 

The book also includes nine sketches showing the different moods of Dilliwali.

Apart from the book launch, there will poetry readings by the contributing poets and a panel discussion on Dilliwali as portrayed by the poets in the book.

The book will be released by renowned poet and Guest of Honour, Dr Amarendra Khatua, IFS, Former Director General, ICCR along with other esteemed guests and panelists – Gauhar Raza, poet and scientist, Dr. Ameeta Parsuram, psychologist, therapist, poet and Associate Professor (Psychology), Jesus & Mary College; Dr. Rakhshanda Jalil, writer, translator & literary historian; Rana Safvi, writer, translator, and historian and Dr. Amit Ranjan, writer, poet and Assistant Professor (English), St Stephen’s College.

©Different Truths News Service (DTNS) 

Book Cover from Bushra Alvi Razzack and visuals from the Internet

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