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Arts, Sports & Culture

Renowned Pakistani Poet to Attend Pittsburgh Jazz Poetry Concert

City of Asylum Pittsburgh will present its 11th annual Jazz Poetry Concert at 7:45 p.m. Saturday near the National Aviary in West Park.

The event will be free to the public, and critically acclaimed Pakistani poet and human rights activist Harris Khalique will read poetry to jazz music.

Khalique will read in the Urdu language, a language spoken in Pakistan, and English translations will be available.

Other artists will be reading their poetry during the concert as well.

Khalique, who is from Islamabad, told Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer he has enjoyed his first stay in Pittsburgh.

“I am very happy to be in Pittsburgh,” he said. “It’s a beautiful city.”

Khalique’s poems describe the lives of those living in the poverty and terrorism that plagues Pakistan.

A line from one of his poems describes a real-life account of his view of young, poor Pakistani girl from his office window:

“...I decided to go beyond the window and walk across the terrace to look over the street from above. I saw a young girl squatting by a small puddle and folding paper into boats. An odd mix of intense sorrow and great hope enveloped my heart.”

He said that Pakistanis experience great hardships and sorrow.

“It’s not just terrorism,” Khalique said. “It’s also grinding poverty in which people live and there are no human rights for these people.

He said that the sadness in his works reflect events from his own life.

“It does get reflected in your work … I lost six friends over the past two years who were killed by terrorists or killed by different religious extremist outfit,” Khalique said.

Khalique added that he is not completely without hope for the future of his homeland, and said with a laugh that he is an “optimist”.

“There is hope,” he said. “I’m sad but I’m not completely cynical.”

The event will be under a tent and will go on rain or shine.