‘At times tender, at times searing…’ a comment by Lydia Kwa

‘At times tender, at times searing, Holier Than Life is a collection of poems that refuses to withhold truth-telling, exposing the brutalities of those in oppressive regimes, and pleading for the plight of women and children. A poetic chant laced with bitterness and celebration, these poems confront us with the urgency of suffering, and the need to respond with compassion.’

Lydia Kwa
Author of ‘Sinuous’, ‘This Place Called Absence’, and more.

‘A route back to significance’ by Chloé Frommer

An initial comment (my less conscious or deep response) on
‘Holier than life’ by Fauzia Rafique

‘I truly liked the poetry collection. And though I love all poetry, I feel your voice has affected me before or previously – and maybe most strongly because you were a poet I knew, or had at least met.

‘If I was to get analytical though, I might say the strongest of the poems re-mediates us from some of the toxic, and inept media we’ve gotten covering all kinds of internal and externally-generated wars in Pakistan, within Islamic governance etc. These are the knotty rotty experiences we still have not figured how to absolve.

‘Some of your poetry is also so so familiar to me. I think I’ve read some of it before! So it’s nostalgia to come across this particular cadence of self in the world again. Some of it helped me sort an approach to another difficult time – but I barely remember that time, just that I had either reposted or liked that poem before.

‘As a whole, your poetry is a rally against the dullness of our information intoxications, almost a route back to significance. However, like the title suggests, holier than life, the route is more than one less than many – a candelabra of many veins and ways.

‘I have to end this top of my head review with just saying….I too am suffering now, from all of this.’

Chloé Frommer is a sociocultural anthropologist, an underpublished poet, and an emerging filmmaker. Works online can be found at:

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‘The Jolly Trinity’ by Fauzia Rafique

UN declares November 10 the Malala Day

First, they brought us
our enemies
from Tora Bora
Afghanistan, the allah-crazed
soldiers to bomb our schools
Now, they bring us
our heroes
courageous face
of our resistance
Hail angelina!
Resurrect madonna!
Wash dirty dollar
charitable currency
Drone fire aggression
noble democracy
War-lording action
exodus of decency
Our young heroes
brokering commodity
the jolly trinity

Nov. 2012

From ‘Holier Than Life’ (Purple Poppy Press, June 2013)

Available at


Extracting Pleasure from Pain

In August 2012, a group of Shia Muslims was apprehended and slaughtered by a militant strain of Sunni Muslims, a blasphemy-accused disabled Christian male was lynched and killed by a mob, and, an 11-year old Rimsha Masih (now given refuge in Canada) was accused of blasphemy. Coming out of these three religion-based violent crimes, the poem ‘Holier Than Life’ was a painful experience to write. One of those moments hours days when verses flow like tears, and tears drop like molten wax.

In the ebook Holier Than Life, ‘Porn creation’ is another such poem, ‘The Clowns of Blasphemy’, and of course, ‘Mirwah’s Unnamed Girl’, a translation of one of five Punjabi poems on the 2008 alive burials of eight Balochi women.

The poem ‘Holier than Life’ was posted on facebook at night, and the next morning, i saw an Urdu translation of it on my timeline. Not just that it was a translation that would make the poem accessible where it most needed to, but also because it was clean, actually beautiful, depiction of the original. What a pleasant surprise, Shamoon Saleem.

As much as it’s possible to extract pleasure from pain, than this was one of those occasions in 2012. And this morning again i was happy to find a new post from Shamoon Saleem with his translation, and a link to the eBook Holier Than Life containing the original. Thank you, Shamoon. I hope that some more of my poems inspire you.

Earlier in 2011, Daljit Ami had script-converted my Punjabi poem ‘Aahr 2011’ from Shahmukhi to Gurmukhi within minutes of its posting on facebook.

I am grateful to everyone, people and pages, for creating with and sharing my poems in 2012, before and after.

‘Zindgi se Muqaddass-ter’ by Shamoon Saleem
‘Holier Than Life’

Get ‘Holier Than Life’
By Fauzia Rafique


Shahid Mirza’s Kavita – Cover Art of ‘Holier Than Life’

shahidmirzaSometimes, an artist delivers a verse on canvas; sometimes, the verse spills over to become a song; sometimes, that song releases a perfect moment of forgetfulness. If i was a musician, i could tell you more about the song that is initiated by this painting. Now, i can only say that it is a song of abandonment and joy, of floating and riding, of heat and animals; and of flowing water and sweeping breeze.’ (uddariart.wordpress.com/2008/05/24/shahid-mirzas-kavita)

By Fauzia Rafique

I saw this item in 2006 in Shahid Mirza’s studio located at the time in the servant quarter of a Gulberg house where the main floor was being used by Lahore Chitrkar, an art organization founded and run by him and his partner Rabia Nadir while they lived upstairs with their family. This artwork was part of Shahid Mirza’s scattered portfolio found in his studio and in Chitrkar’s office and gallery areas. The moment i saw it, i was captured by the serenity and continuity of life it represented. A common scene of a rain-fed pond or a canal or river in the plains of the Punjab where in the heat of summer the cow/buffalo floats giving free rides to the young caretakers. An un-advertised, casual, everyday-life pleasure extracted from harsh realities without thought or planning– made possible only by the instinctive trust the child has in the force of life itself.


Shahid Mirza is an art teacher and an incredible painter who mixes life forms into oblong-people shapes to emerge colourful concepts on pages and canvases merging Punjabi folk lore with current themes and techniques. Visit his Facebook art gallery to view his paintings.
Some of his work is displayed here.
Shahid Mirza at Uddari Art

I am grateful to Shahid Mirza for his art, for his generosity in letting me use it on ‘Holier Than Life’, and for his friendship. This reminds me of many occasions where i enjoyed warm hospitality and deep caring from him and Rabia in Lahore in 2006-2007. And, this is the kind of contentment and creativity they both are:

rabianadir-shahidmirzaRabia Nadir and Shahid Mirza in a photo from Sarah Elahi

Here and now, Mariam Zohra Durrani created a befitting environment on the cover of ‘Holier Than Life’ (Purple Poppy Press, June 2013) to showcase Shahid Mirza’s artwork.

Holier-Than-Life-CoverGet it here