Progressive poet, writer Fahmida Riaz passes away

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LAHORE: Noted poet and prose writer Fahmida Riaz passed away on Wednesday evening in Lahore. She was 72. Her funeral was held after Asr prayers in Lahore’s Askari 1 area on Thursday. The eminent progressive writer, who was also hailed by many as a pioneer in feminist literature, had been suffering from illness for the past few months.

Apart from authoring more than 15 books on fiction and poetry, she was also a human rights activist. Her first literary work was published in 1967, titling ‘Pather Ki Zuban’. Her collection of poetry includes ‘Dhoop’, ‘Pura Chand’, ‘Admi Ki Zindagi’ and more. Her novels include ‘Zinda Bahar’, ‘Godaavari’ and ‘Karachi’. She was famous for her revolutionary and contrary to tradition poetry.

When Badan Dareeda, her second collection of verse, appeared in 1973, she was accused of using erotic and sensual expressions in her poetry. The themes prevalent in her verse were, until then, considered taboo for women writers.

Fahmida Raiz also contributed to the Urdu literature as a translator. Whether it was Ismail Kadare from Albania or Maulana Rumi, she was knowledgeable about world fiction and classical poetry.

Born into a literary family of Meerut (India) in July 1946, Fahmida Riaz, in addition to her literary pursuits, always played an active role in social and political activities.

She lived in self-exile for over six years in India when former military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq ruled over Pakistan.

She was appointed managing director of what was then the National Book Council of Pakistan during the first PPP government (1988-90). In Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure as prime minister, she became associated with the ministry of culture. In 2009, she was appointed the chief editor of the Urdu Dictionary Board in Karachi.