Posts by Naima Rashid

Translation Tuesday: “Verdict” by Perveen Shakir

What to say to the ASI? / He who has outsourced the whole working of his mind / what would he know of the perfume of the soil?

Towards the last decade of her life, Shakir worked in different departments in bureaucracy, including the department of Customs and Central Excise. The natural vibrancy and inquisitiveness of her temperament was, understandably, at odds with the drudgery and apathy of mindsets prevalent in these circles. Her writings, provocative on many counts, often got her into trouble with authorities, but she remained steadfast in her poetic verve.

Her encounters with authority figures from the world of bureaucracy form the subject of some of her most interesting poems, ranging in character from light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek encounters, to verse that reads like an open indictment and battle cry.

“Verdict” is part of a selection of one hundred poems published in Defiance of the Rose (Oxford University Press, 2019). This first translation of her work with an international publisher makes her work accessible to the English-speaking world.

—Translator Naima Rashid

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