From the Khyber Pass to the Great Black Swamp: a conversation with Dr. Amjad Hussain

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi On particularly tough days of my first Ramadan in college, I had vivid dreams of Peshawar, my hometown. Eager to succeed as an international student, I would never have confessed to being homesick but for my Psychology course “Sleep and Dreaming” which required a dream journal. “It’s mid-day,” I noted in…

The Female Anatomy of Letters: A Five-part Essay

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi Writing lives in the gut, like the good bacteria and the bad; it carries on an endless flirtation, an infuriating, nagging conversation with the gut’s long-married partner, the psyche. From time to time, it may traverse its underground-cityscape of anxiety, nostalgia, compulsion, its contradictory pull between instinct and fact-checking, its love-hate…

Escaping the Margins: Poetry of Protest, Poetry of Power

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi The author as a student at Kinnaird College I began writing poetry on a campus of red-brick corridors, ancient oaks, belligerent crows, and sharp-witted, lively women who thrived on critical thinking— Kinnaird college, in Lahore, Pakistan. In my earliest writing, I seem to have tested truths, grappled with the abstract, as…

Sultana Morayma: the Last Queen of Al Andalus

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi At the end of the story, in its final pages, is a queen. Not the pious despot Isabella of Castille who is about to command the Inquisition, or the embittered, vengeful Sultana Aixa la Horra who is inciting war within the house of Nasrid, but the queen who is obscured from…

Expressing the Inexpressible: The Craft of the Ghazal

by Shadab Zeest Hashmi My first encounter with the ghazal had to have happened at home where my parents played ghazal LPs on their Phillips record player, along with Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Harry Belafonte and Edith Piaf. The ghazal entered my consciousness first as music, accessible only to the extent that Edith Piaf was accessible; through…