HE certainly does not look like a poet, this tall, rugged, thickset, Pakistani, Pushto-speaking Pathan, with bushy eyebrows and a gravelly voice who goes by the name of Faraz Ahmed Faraz. He was in Delhi to participate in the Ghalib Bicentenary Mushaira held last week.
Certainly not your archetypal delicate custodian of a more delicate ahlezubaan, Urdu. Yet it's not an AK-47, but a pen that he wields. And uses like no other. So effectively in fact, that today he's likened to the legendary poet, the late Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Eminent Indian poet Ali Sardar Jafri calls him "the most important poet of the subcontinent, an agitational poet par excellence whose poetry is marked by sweetness and lyricism." Litterateur Raees Mirza claims he is the "next Faiz whose shumaar (body of work) is among the mumtaz shora (premier poetry) of the continent." Laconic writer Qurratulain Hyder, no mean literary figure herself, offers what people in the know rate as high praise: "He's an extremely interesting poet." Long-time friend Sadia Dehlvi, once a columnist for Urdu magazines Shama and Bano, calls him an "enduring" poet. "Even though he's written powerful protest poetry, he's not a daur ka shaayar (a poet of a time)," she says. "There's a quality of grace, a tremulous sensitivity, an ineffable beauty in his works about human relationships that has timeless appeal. Faraz's poetry will certainly outlive him."