JEDDAH – Oxford University Press organized an event for its publication, Defiance of the Rose: Selected Poems by Parveen Shakir translated from Urdu by Naima Rashid, in Jeddah. The event was held at Medd Café and Roastery, in partnership with four communities— Jeddah Reads, Jeddah Cultural Exchange Company, Joy of Urdu, and Medd Café—which are active in the cultural sphere.
Two decades after Perveen Shakir’s death, this translation of her selected verses published by Oxford University Press is the first translation of her works with an international publisher. The aim of the project is to bring her work within access of a diverse English-speaking audience. The hundred poems in the collection are among her least known but strongest works, and aim to redress the image she has of a ‘romantic poet’. These poems show her in a completely new light.
Naima Rashid is an author, poet, and literary translator. Her forthcoming works include her own poetry and fiction, as well as a series of literary translations. Naima has a background in linguistics, education, and writing, and has taught French language and literature at the French Consulate of Jeddah, the Alliance Française de Lahore, and Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore. Her writings on visual arts and other subjects have appeared in Newsline magazine and other publications.
Jeddah Reads is a non-profit initiative led by three young women, active in the city’s cultural scene through literary events including workshops. Jeddah Cultural Exchange Company functions both as a language-learning centre and a space for organizing cultural events and gatherings. Medd Café itself, the venue for the event, is not just a bustling specialty coffee shop, but also a co-working space with a focus on supporting creatives. Joy of Urdu is a community initiative aiming to revitalize the Urdu language through worldwide reading chapters, and bilingual publications.
The attendees at the event included South Asian expats as well as non-Urdu speakers.