Basir Sultan Kazmi

Basir Sultan Kazmi



Born in Pakistan (1955) Basir Sultan Kazmi is a poet in the ghazal tradition of his illustrious father Nasir Kazmi (late). He studied/taught English Literature at the Government College Lahore. He edited Ravi (1974) and was the office bearer of the college literary and dramatic societies. He did his M.Ed (1991) and M.Phil (2000) from the University of Manchester and PGCE in English (1995). He currently teaches in Manchester. He also worked for BBC’s Asian programme (19991-92) and has been conducting poetry/drama workshops all over the UK. He has an Urdu poetry collection Moj-e-Khayal (1997) and translations of ghazals in A Little Bridge (1997), Generations of Ghazals (2003) and in several magazines and anthologies. His Urdu play Bisaat was published in 1987 and its translation The Chess Board in 1997. He won the North West Playwrights Workshop Award in 1992. His plays have been performed in northern theatres. He has recited his poetry in several cities of Europe, Pakistan and the USA.


Creative Work

The True-Hearted

The true-hearted can settle – no matter which land.
A flower wants to bloom, wherever its garden.

If the gossip must be about current affairs,
then anyone may be engaged – in any crowd.

What matter if it’s a hair or a flower’s vein,
or which rope the devotee finds at the gallows?

The same lack of reward awaits accomplished hands.
In the end the mountain-cutter breaks his own head.

Those who are ambitious do not depend on wine;
day or night, they stay drunk, whatever their longing.

I await the art-lover as I would some dear one.
I spread eyes and heart in their path, whoever they are.

Even today Nasir’s mark is on poetry –
we search for him wherever poetry is shared.

When do habits and desires ever change, Basir?

Whichever the forest, a peacock needs must dance.

Note: Shireen’s lover Farhad broke his head when he could not win his beloved even after he had fulfilled the difficult task of cutting a stream of milk through the mountain.

From Generations of Ghazals: Ghazals by Nasir Kazmi and Basir Sultan Kazmi, Redbeck Press, Bradford, UK, 2003



This is a ghazal, originally written in Urdu in 2000 and translated into English by myself and a fellow poet Debjani Chatterjee. The ghazal is an established and extremely popular verse-form in Urdu and Persian. It is a traditional type of short lyric poem that can be recited, chanted and sung, with or without musical accompaniment. While the ghazal can cover any topic, love has always been its pre-eminent subject.
Like the sonnet, the ghazal has strict requirements of structure, content and imagery. The ghazal uses a single uniform metre in every line – and often a very complex metrical pattern is used, as well as a rhyming scheme of AA, BA, CA, DA, and so on. Each individual couplet of a ghazal is a complete and autonomous entity, and frequently differs from the adjoining couplets in theme and mood. But there is an overall unity in the shape of the poem, the metre and the patterning of language and images. Themes can also recur in the same ghazal. In the final couplet, in most cases, the poet introduces his or her own name, or penname.

The ghazal in question appeared in Generations of Ghazals. Debjani Chatterjee, writing “On the poetry of migration”, has stated:

All over the world people leave homes and lands to settle elsewhere and adopt a new nationality. Even when taken voluntarily, such decisions still rank among the most challenging of human experiences. --- Basir Sultan Kazmi’s ghazals also explore the theme of dislocation. --- His ghazals show some ambivalent feelings towards Britain. But Basir’s new country also offers opportunities that stretch his writings. --- In 2002, after taking British Nationality, Basir celebrates his coming to terms with exile: The true-hearted ---- a peacock needs must dance (The Poetry Society/Arts Council England brochure for the National Poetry Day, 9 October, 2003).

Tarquin Hall (Times, June 3, 2006) also says that I am celebrating “the gypsy existence” in this ghazal. When he refers to the theme of “loss and adjustment” in my poetry, he has, perhaps, the third and the fourth couplets of this ghazal in mind.

The second last couplet is a tribute to my father, who was my instructor/mentor in the art of ghazal. When he was only 27, he composed this couplet: “People will seek me in every poets’ assembly / My mark will be found in the ghazals of every age.” Prema Salt (Writing in Education, Issue Number 30, Autumn 2003, ISSN 1361-8539), comments:

In 'The True-hearted' – incidentally one of the finest ghazals in the book – Basir Sultan Kazmi echoes a couplet by his father. --- Generations of Ghazals will help many a child of immigrants to explore their roots. It will also open the door for all the readers to access a rich literature from another culture….. With the cross-cultural efforts of such poets as Pakistani-born Basir Sultan Kazmi, his Indian-born editor-translator and his English publisher, I predict a bright future for the British ghazal.



Bisaat (long play in Urdu), Maktaba-e-Khayal, Lahore, Pakistan, 1987.
The Chess Board (English translation of the play, Bisaat), Pennine Pens, Hebden Bridge, UK, 1997.
Moj-e-Khayaal – (collection of Urdu poems [ghazals])  -  Jehangir Book Depot, Lahore, Pakistan, 1997.
A Little Bridge – (collection of poems by three authors), Pennine Pens, Hebden Bridge, UK, 1997
Generations of Ghazals: Ghazals by Nasir Kazmi and Basir Sultan Kazmi, Redbeck Press, Bradford, UK, 2003
Ghazal, nasl der nasl, (bilingual edition - original text & translation) of Genarations of Ghazals, Jehangir Book Depot, Lahore, Pakistan, 2006
Chaman Koi bhi ho, Classic Publishers, Lahore, Pakistan, 2008

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