It has rarely been easy to be a woman and a writer. Most often, women do not have a language and a space of their own, nor do they have economic independence and the confidence to write freely. They do not even enjoy a right to their own body. It thus becomes imperative that they refuse, at some point of time, to remain victims, and choose to educate and define themselves to seek their sustenance.
Women poets from Pakistan have been expressing themselves on a variety of themes; not just the conventional ones of life, death, love, family, marriage, and religion but deeper introspective and public questions related to ideas of home and belonging in a multicultural world. They have also pondered over immigrant experiences and the individual’s alienation from their motherland. Issues like the volatile nature of politics in Pakistan and its conflicting dialectics, rage against a political dispensation based on discriminatory religious tenets, notions of personal freedom, social roles, and the divide between public and private spheres have engrossed their attention. They have been passionate about issues of identity and the stark experience of confinement and bondage. The sheer scope, range and intensity of their poetry and their conscious engagement with their socio-political context, both in and out of their country, make them a perfect subject for critical investigation.
The women poets that form the subject of this study have stormed the literary bastion so far dominated by men. With the freshness of their idiom and the newness of their poetics, they have created a significant space for themselves in the literary world not just of Pakistan, but also across South Asia. This work is an attempt to accord them the critical attention they so richly deserve.
1. Pakistan’s Verse Traditions
2. The State of Pakistan: Political, Social, and Religious Structures
3. Women Poets and the Political Context
4. Women Poets and their Negotiations with Religion
5. Women Poets and Society