Shahnaz Rashid has emerged as a grounded voice of today’s Kashmiri poetry. Considered an echo of Rafiq Raaz, he just did not crack the ascendancy of Raaz; he paved a way of supremacy for himself in a familiar yet neoteric language of signifying proportions. His stunning command of language helps him connect it to the contemporary mood and reflection in an effortless manner.His poetry apprises us of his nonpareil dexterity skills penetrating his ghazals and nazms equally. Shahnaz’s latest collection of poems, Door Pahan Dewaran Manz, his second in just ten years, is a book most of the Kashmiri poets have failed to harvest over a lifetime. I am convinced that the book will infuse a new genius into the garden variety of our literary scene.
Shahnaz’s ghazals have a unique diaphanous quality that we rarely witness in his contemporaries. We may debate about the presence of complexity of feeling, but undeniably there is no ambiguity of image or metaphor in his verse, which, however, does not exclude deeper or layered meanings from his poetry.This quality of accessibility, together with indigenous historico-cultural allusions, has allowed Shahnaz to accrue a widespread appeal.
In Shahnaz, we see an addition to the diversity of voices following tremendously successful Rahi of later years who as a prig had roughly made dogma out of his personal taste and talent. We badly needed an antidote to this esoteric tendency for art which poets like Shahnaz have provided. In poetry, being simple takes more skill and effort than being difficult. Poets often prove themselves clever but, as Shahnaz does, we mustunderstand and celebrate experience, otherwise known as life.
Shahnaz’s book contains 80 compelling ghazals and 40 persuasive nazms, laying out his 196-page journey through life’s “rainbow of loss and gain” that “frequently communicates that under the blue dome of the skywhatever we look at is a glass house of servility and ephemerality … as well as a courtyard of a towering house of awe.” A successful marriage of both perspectives is what Shahnaz’s poetry is all about.
It makes difference to have a poet’s sizeable amount of work in view to become aware of the things that occupy and obsess him, to learn to recognize his characteristic voice, his personal idiom. With a prompt second collection, Shahnaz has offered this opportunity of kosher discovery to his readers and critics for which we must be thankful.