Seeing through the heart: Visually-impaired poet releases first set of collected verses

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Qutab Khan Tatoor has never let his visual impairment hold him back. At the age of 58, the folk poet has just published his first set of Pashto poems, Da zra stargay or The Heart’s Eyes.

For Tatoor, the book is a labour of love. He used his own money – earned during his long association with Radio Pakistan as a folk singer – to publish it.

The book was launched in Islamabad at the cost of Rs50,000 with 500 copies ready for distribution. The book has 190 pages and is on sale for Rs150.

Tatoor said the book will be made available in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as soon as he has saved enough money to publish more copies.

In the book, Tatoor covers topics such as child labour, importance of education, poverty and unemployment. The preface of the book has been dedicated to Tatoor’s teacher Swadin Khan. Folk poems and songs are an oral tradition carried down from generation to generation. “I know these poems by heart,” he said. “I used to recite more than a hundred of these poems and then people asked me to write them down and that is just what I did.” He added that folk poetry was deeply rooted in Pashto literature and had left an impact on the people as it was simple and easy to access.

Many of his songs are commonly performed at weddings and public gatherings.

Keeping the tradition alive

Tatoor has arranged poetry sessions and gathered a number of famous poets from across the province, including Saleem Raz, in his hometown. He said the last session cost him roughly Rs30,000.

Tatoor said he wanted to hold such events to revive the tradition and spread the word about his book. Explaining the title of the book, he said he saw social issues through the eyes of his heart. A poem about a 10-year-old boy is a commentary on child labour. It narrates the life of this boy working at restaurants, workshops and how it was affected by the environment he was in.

In another poem, Musafar, Tatoor talks about the life of a man who has been working abroad and is miles away from his relatives and country.

Source: The Express Tribune.