Issues and Trends  - Saadat Saeed

By Anis Nagi  



"Why professors are denied the facility of staying at circuit houses and use of staff cars?," protested Dr Saadat Saeed in an evening get together at Pak Tea House. This sudden outburst of chubby, affable Saadat Saeed who also happens to be a man of letters, has a logic. It is a complaint against a social order which has no soft corner for writers and educationists. Saadat Saeed, poet critic, is not the sort to put up with this situation. He continues to fight back in his own way. a cool reception. The poet himself kept persuading his acquaintances to read his verse. Some seriously read his poetry but others laughed it off. Writing articles for unknown journals, scribbling ghazals for mushairas abroad, doing translation work incognito, prowling in the backyards of TV and Radio, attending all types of literary functions and getting down articles on demand on book introducing ceremonies.

The dilemma of Saadat Saeed speaks of a greater malaise. The contemporary writers and intellectuals are more committed to working for the media than to the requirements of their art. This explains the lack of fecundity in the contemporary literary works. Saadat Saeed has, however, managed to preserve his creative activity to a certain extent even under such conditions though he has withdrawn in to silence lately.

Saadat Saeed for the past fifteen years has been writing poetry and criticism and has published more than a hundred critical essays. And even biggest lot is lying unpublished. So far he has published one collection of his poems Kajli Bun in 1988. The book had, containing 48 poems, is only a fraction of the mass of poetry he has written. The book contains a preface by the poet himself employing all types of words and names of writers and philosophers to justify the pat-term of his poetry. The introductory remarks on the poetry of Saadat Saeed by Azhar Ghori are extremely hyperbolic and betray his ignorance of the concept of modern poetry. Saadat Saeed's poetry is well articulated, indicating his command on the classical poetic diction and his appetite for coining new poetic phraseology. This puts him in the tradition of Imam Bakhsh Nasikh, Nuskha-e-Hameedia Ghalib, N.M Rashid and Iftikhar Jalib. This sequence may appear odd to many and calls for an explanation. All these poets tried to build a new poetic structure with the help of linguistic combinations by grafting Urdu, Persian, partly Arabic and Urdu words in one sequence. The result was nothing but idiosyncratic combination of words. Of them Ghalib was more crafty and wary of the response his poetry evoked. He stopped writing verse in Urdu and spent his entire creative life in modifying the linguistic structure of his obtrusive Urdu verse. Mere communication may not be the entire purpose of literature but except for James Joyce, all writers and poets aim at communication.

Saadat Saeed belongs to that school of new Urdu poetry which, despite Saadat Saeed modern consciousness, has shown little resilience in reorienting mental attitudes towards literature. Here jingling verbosity, without sentiments, does not create poetry. Formulation of new poetic phraseology and changing the connotation of words is to express the inexpressible. The subject matter on which Saadat Saeed has been writing poetry is the extension of the poems written by the new poets of early sixties. His main theme is that of collective as well individual suppression by an inclement way of life. In depicting the tragic finale of his generation, Saadat Saeed employs imagery which at times is impressive. But his creative energy bears no fruit when he refuses to come out of the parameter of poetry laid down by his literary mentor Iftikhar Jalib to whom he has dedicated his book. This might be a tribute from the disciple to the master indirectly qualifying himself as a new poet, but it is a calculated efforts to distort the facts of contemporary literary history.

Another problem with Saadat Saeed's collection of poetry is that he took a long time to print it in a period when The entire complexion or modern Urdu poetry has changed. Saadat Saeed is still energetic and resourceful and can come out of his adolescent fixations to write better poetry.


Issues and Trends

(The Nation Lahore 18 December 1990)


Issues and Trends