LAHORE: On one of spring's windy evenings in March, literary icons got together to lend their support for editor-turned-entrepreneur Mehvash Amin's publication launch, titled Broken Leg Publications.
Bringing forth its first book, The Aleph Review, the publication house commemorates the works of accomplished individuals and reaped writers/poets.
The Aleph Review is a yearly anthology of creative writing with its cover story featuring the late influential author and poet Taufiq Rafat. Literary personalities, book lovers, writers, poets, professors and journalists made their presence felt by reading excerpts from the book, which were written by Taufiq Rafat and also acknowledged his skill and grasp over literature - short story telling and poetry. Journalist and commentator Najam Sethi and literary scholar Shaista Sirajuddin recalled their favourite moments spent with Rafat and looked back fondly on the times he had expressed his passion for literature.
"He always had a crumpled sheet of paper in his pocket that he handed out for me to read. He never read it himself. And I found myself engrossed in the beauty of his words and the poems that he had written," Najam Sethi said, while addressing the audience.
Professor Shaista Sirajuddin read out passages and poems from The Aleph Review and recalled the time she and Rafat had travelled together.
Rafat is considered the 'Father of the Pakistani Idiom in English Poetry'. His seminal essay on the Pakistani Idiom, published just once before in a college magazine in 1968 and subsequently 'lost', is also published in The Aleph Review, alongside supporting articles on him by Kaleem Omar, Khawaja Shahid, Sirajuddin and the poet's son Seerat Hazir.
Media personality Seerat Hazir, Khawaja Shahid and journalist Mina Malik also got on stage to read out their favourite parts from The Aleph Review.
Without a shadow of a doubt, book reading sessions and get togethers of literary icons and critics of the country have been on a decline and it's events like these that make one wonder how progressive the current generation could become if poets and writers of yesteryears are lauded, remembered, read out and most importantly republished on a regular basis.
"The launch was important because a leading Pakistani poet Taufiq Rafat, comprised the cover story of the anthology; and another leading figure like Khawaja Shahid Hosain was there to talk about him, as well as his first publisher, Najam Sethi, the keynote speaker. At the same time, upcoming young poets and writers also read out their work, so it was a telescopic look at Pakistani-English literature of the last 60 years," Mehvash Amin said, while talking exclusively to Daily Times.
The anthology contains essays, short stories, excerpts from upcoming novels, screenplays, interviews, graphic poetry and an obituary. There is also accompanying artwork by revered artists such as Sadequain and Saeed Akhtar, along with a host of young artists.
Everyone in attendance put their hands together after each passage was read out, some giggled on the humour involved, others nodded their head in agreement; each thoroughly enjoying the evening to its fullest, hoping this was one of many more to follow.