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Muslim rulers were once known to reward their poets “by filling their mouths with pearls, weighing them in gold, and granting them villages.” Poetry remains the dominant literary idiom of modern Pakistan, as it has been in Islamic cultures for centuries. Modern Poetry of Pakistan brings together forty outstanding Pakistani poets, with new translations from Urdu, Balochi, Sindhi, Punjabi, Saraiki, and Pashto. The collection includes the work of acknowledged masters, such as Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Ghani Khan, and Josh Malihabadi, but it also presents the work of poets who speak in a distinctly contemporary voice—Sheikh Ayaz, Nasreen Anjum Bhatti, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Hasina Gul, Zafar Iqbal, Kishwar Naheed, Munir Niazi, N. M. Rashid, Fehmida Riaz, and Pushpa Vallabh, to name but a few.
The Urdu poetic tradition is famous for its mushairas—assemblies where poets gather to recite their poetry before large audiences, who shout “Wah, wah!” in appreciation of unusual poetic dexterity or subtlety of thought. In its range of themes and styles, and in its celebration of poetic inspiration, Modern Poetry of Pakistan aims to uphold the spirit of that tradition