BOSTON, Sept.14, 2011 – The American Islamic Congress (AIC) and Project Nur, in partnership with the Organization of Pakistani Students and the Bangladeshi Student Association will hold an International Mushaira — an evening of Urdu, Hindu, and Bengali poetry – on September 15, 2011, at the Conference Auditorium in the Boston University Student Union, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Two distinguished international poets, Saleem Kausar of Pakistan and Khushbir Singh “Shaad” of India, will headline the event, reciting alongside several local poets.

“This will be our fourth event this year, following three extremely successful mushairas in the spring semester at Harvard University, Suffolk University, and Tufts University,” said Charlotte Giles, the event’s organizer from AIC.

The Urdu word mushaira means “poetic symposium” or “poetry gathering.” Mushairas have always been an important and central part of the Urdu culture found throughout South Asia, especially India and Pakistan, with the tradition of mushaira dating back to the early 16th century. The poems may address political, cultural or romantic affairs that the common man may suffer from but only the poet can fully express. Some of the most well-known poetry was political in nature and was written during the Indian Independence movement.

The allure and popularity of a mushaira lie in its interactive nature. Poets recite their works to an audience that is actively engaged: the flow and rhythm of recitation or song may result in yelling and shouting of appreciation for a particular couplet, pleads for the poet to repeat it just once more. There are a number of phrases used to express the desire for a poet to repeat a couplet or to show one’s amazement at the beauty and skill of the poet.

“Mushairas are not quiet affairs. Passion and excitement of both the poet and the audience are voiced and exchanged freely. And that is the beauty of the tradition,” said Giles.

A Bengali poet, local Boston poet, and a poet from AIC will be reciting as well. Time will be given to students to recite their own work or that of their favorite poet. Tasty snacks such as samosas, gulab jaman, and chai will also be provided. The event is free and open to the public.


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