Poetry Foundation International Poets in Conversation: Harris Khalique

In a recent lecture from the Poetry Foundation, International Writing Program (IWP) Director Christopher Merrill speaks with Harris Khalique, Pakistani poet and 2015 IWP Fall Resident. The two discuss literary traditions in Pakistan, the cultural influences of different cities, and the important role of women in Pakistani literature.

Additionally, Khalique reads from his work in both Urdu and English, including his recent poem “Burying martyrs who are heavy.”

“Burying martyrs who are heavy”

We are turned into a funeral procession
All 180 million of us
We carry a hundred thousand bodies on our shoulders
We are told they are martyrs and martyrs are light
Light like rose petals.
But the ones we carry are heavy
They have metal inside
Bullets, shrapnel, pellets, nails
Tips of swords and daggers broken into their flesh.
The bodies will dissolve in the mud once buried
But the metal will keep the earth hard under our feet
For long.

On Thursday, November 5, Khalique will read at the Library of Congress alongside fellow Fall Residents Nael Eltoukhy, Birgül Oğuz, and Margarita Mateo Palmer. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information about the IWP Fall Residency, visit the IWP website.