Afzal Ahmed Syed (born 1946) is a contemporary Urdu poet, an acknowledged master of both classical and modern Urdu poetic expression, and a leading proponent of linguistic experimentation. He is one of the most prominent poets of Pakistan today. Writing from the turbulent city of Karachi, his poems are as much about Pakistan as about strife, love and loss in the world.
Musharaf Ali Farooqi (born 1968) is a prolific and award-winning novelist. His novel Between Clay and Dust (2012) was a finalist for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2012. His translations are also reputed throughout the literary world.
“One reads Afzal Ahmed Syed’s poems first with disbelief, and then with more disbelief. He lives in Karachi, but it could just as well have been Cracow. He is very much of his time and place, but the poetic traditions he taps into could be from anywhere, which is perhaps why he is not better known in the subcontinent.. He constantly reminds us of the things we have forgotten or would prefer to forget, and makes certain that, once reminded, we do not forget them again. Of ‘Our National Tree’, the acacia, he says that it is not classified as a tree because, among other reasons, there are no corpses hanging from it. In our countries where history, and sometimes the evidence of our very eyes, is being constantly faked or over written, it is the poets we must turn to for an unfalsified picture. The dreamers become our true chroniclers and classifiers. Afzal Ahmed Syed, who is an entomologist by training, is one of the truest.” – Arvind Krishna Mehrotra