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Rococo and Other Worlds
Selected Poems
Afzal Ahmed Syed; Musharraf Ali Farooqi, trans.

The Driftless Series
Wesleyan Poetry Series
2010 • 108 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
Poetry / Middle East Studies

$24.95 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-6933-2

$19.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-6987-5

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

Trans. from the Urdu

Widely known as a powerful contemporary voice in both classical and modern Urdu poetic expression, Syed has not previously had a full collection translated into English. …Syed leaps across continents... [continued in Reviews below]”—Molly Jean Bennett, The Hollins Critic

First English language publication of Urdu’s greatest modern poet

Afzal Ahmed Syed holds a unique place among contemporary poets of the Urdu language, as an acknowledged master of both the classical and modern Urdu poetic forms. The poems in Rococo and Other Worlds explore the mythology and historical realities of South Asia and the Middle East; their bold imagery creates narratives of voluptuous perfection, which remain inseparable from the political realities that Syed witnessed as a young observer of the violent separation of East Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh in 1971 and of the Lebanese civil war in 1976. Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s sensitive translations bring this extraordinary work to English readers for the first time.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Widely known as a powerful contemporary voice in both classical and modern Urdu poetic expression, Syed has not previously had a full collection translated into English. …Syed leaps across continents and takes on the classics, modern warfare, great love, the pleasure of eating ice cream for the first time, and much, much more. …I feel no hesitation in saying he creates something marvelous, something breathtaking and wholly unfamiliar in its scope in Rococo and Other Worlds.”
Molly Jean Bennett, The Hollins Critic

“A powerful narrative of human solitude and alienation, the gentle and at times explosive rhythms of Rococo and Other Worlds linger in the mind long after the poems are read and contemplated. A modern sensibility profoundly informed by the finest liberal traditions of classical Urdu poetry at its best.”—Muhammad Umar Memon, professor Urdu and Persian literature and Islamic studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison

“Rococo usually refers to baroque style, playful and elaborate rhythms and ornament, but other worlds also leap and scream from these poems—images of violent history as Tacitus, Goya, or Kafka saw it. A sense of danger pervades a desperate and eroticized human search for safety. It’s a dark vision, near surrealist, painfully unique.”—David Ray, author of Sam’s Book and After Tagore

From the Book:

Tell me a story
other than how from the museum
the witness table of the peace pact disappeared
other than that a continent is called by the wrong name

Tell me a story
other than that you do not like to kiss lips
other than that I was not the first man in your life
other than that it was not raining that day
– From “Tell Me a Story”

AFZAL AHMED SYED is the author of numerous volumes of poetry and translations of Western literature into Urdu, including works by Gabriel García Márquez and Jean Genet. He is credited with infusing Urdu nazm poetry with a new idiom and imagery. MUSHARRAF ALI FAROOQI is an author, novelist, and translator. His books include translations of the Urdu classics The Adventures of Amir Hamza (2007) and Hoshruba (2009), and a novel, The Story of a Widow (2008).

A Driftless Series Book
This book is the 2010 selection in The Driftless Translation category,
for a translation of poetry into English.
The Driftless Series is funded by the
Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund
at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
For more information and a complete list of books in The Driftless Series,
please visit us online at

This project is supported in part by an award from the
National Endowment for the Arts

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:57:10 -0500