Tarannum Riyaz is a noted Urdu short fiction writer, translator, critic, poet and novelist. She has worked on television and radio for several years as Urdu news broadcaster, translator and organiser of literary and cultural programmes. She has also edited the women’s sections of leading Urdu newspapers and journals in Kashmir. She lives in Delhi.
Tarannum’s poetry has been published in several Urdu and Hindi magazines in India and Pakistan, including Shayer (Mumbai), Shiraza (Srinagar), Aiwan-e-Urdu (Delhi), Takhleeq (Lahore), Tasteer (Karachi), Panj Darya (Jalandhar), to name a few. She has published three collections of short fiction, one novel, and edited a collection of Urdu women’s literature in the twentieth century. Her first collection of poetry is due for release in June 2005.
She has received the U.P. Urdu Academy Award (1988) and the Delhi Urdu Academy Award (2004) for her short fiction. She has also participated in several seminars and conferences organised by the Sahitya Akademi and the Department of Urdu, University of Delhi, on the subject of feminist trends in Urdu literature.
The poems featured in this edition explore an immediately recognisable trope in Urdu poetry: the theme of love, yearning and its many textures. However, her work is sharply distinguished from the tradition of male poetry by a voice that is unmistakably female and contemporary. It is a voice that can express a rich welter of emotional ragas: rage, grief, humour, torment, sensual longing, as well as those subtle and indefinable states where tenderness meets contempt, and fury meets despair. There is nothing strident, nothing unmodulated about this poetry. It is a voice that is comfortable with ambiguity, with in-betweenness. Most importantly, it possesses the tonal poise, flexibility and precision so essential to express this complexity.
‘Four Squares of His Heart’, a poem included in this selection, distils what to my mind is Tarannum’s strength: her capacity to journey through the rocky terrain of varied emotional states with the air of a seasoned backpacker. There is affection, tenderness, bafflement, jauntiness, disdain, as well as a generous, if ironic, acceptance of the eternal otherness of the lover.
Purani Kitabon ki Khushboo. Modern Publishing House, New Delhi, 2005.
Yeh Tang Zameen. Modern Publishing House, New Delhi, 1998.
Ababeelain Laut Ayengi. Nirali Duniya Publications, New Delhi, 2000.
Yambarzal. Nirali Duniya Publications, New Delhi, 2004.
Moorti. Nirali Duniya, New Delhi, 2004.
A Cat on a Houseboat (Urdu translation of Anita Desai’s work). Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1993.
Suno Kahani (Urdu translation of Vishnu Prabhakar’s work). Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1993.
Gosain Bagh ka Bhoot (Urdu translation of Shishendu Mukhopadhyay’s work). Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1996.
Biswin Sadi Mein Khwateen ka Urdu Adab (Anthology of Twentieth Century Women’s Writing in Urdu). Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2004, ISBN: 81-260-1620-5.
Details of Tarannum Riyaz’s book, Biswin Sadi Mein Khwateen ka Urdu Adab.
Daily Times – Site Edition (Pakistan)
Report on Indian writers delegation (including Tarannum Riyaz) that visited the Lahore Book Fair.
Poem by Tarannum Riyaz.
Story by Tarannum Riyaz.