Given The Missing Slate’s strong roots in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, we’ve been thinking of Pakistan as the ‘home team’ during this Poetry World Cup. As Brazil showed on Tuesday evening, things can go disastrously wrong for home teams during world cup semi-finals, and Pakistan may well be nervous ahead of today’s meeting with Laos. Of course, the difference is that our competition isn’t really about winning or losing, and (to the best of our knowledge) no one’s about to take to the streets in protest at the result. As Socrates (the Brazilian footballer, not the Greek philosopher) wrote in his autobiography, ‘Beauty comes first. Victory is secondary. What matters is joy.’ Right?
MEET THE POETS
Mehvash Amin is currently editor-in-chief of HELLO! Pakistan, and was editor of lifestyle magazine Libas International for 11 years. Her poetry has been published in an anthology, ‘Tangerine in the Sun’, and in a number of international magazines, including Vallum and Sugar Mule. ‘Karachi’, the poem chosen to represent Pakistan in the Poetry World Cup, was among The Missing Slate’s Pushcart nominees last year.
Bryan Thao Worra has previously represented Laos as a Cultural Olympian during the 2012 Poetry Parnassus, and was involved in the SatJaDham Lao Literary Project, promoting the work of Laotian and Hmong writers and artists. In addition to his poetry, he writes experimental fiction drawing on a variety of influences, including sci-fi and horror.
ROUTE TO THE SEMI-FINALS
Both countries have been hugely impressive, racking up a series of comfortable victories on their way to the semis. Laos haven’t been pushed by any of their opponents (Lebanon, Iran and India), and their vote total in the quarter-finals was the highest of the competition so far. Pakistan came through a high-scoring opening game with Ghana, received a bye through the second round after Anatoly Kudryavitsky chose to withdraw from the competition, and finished 23 votes ahead of Scotland in the quarters.
We must learn to quarter fear, Instead, it is etched like of buses burnt on the road, ~ Mehvash Amin Dreamonstration Given a thousand nights, Open roads, discover ways, Do you ever recall that demons are easy, ~ Bryan Thao Worra RESULT: Pakistan won by 137 votes
dice it, serve it on plates
in manageable portions.
a hologram against the sky,
starting out of the sockets
where they root
like indestructible fungi…
Can you master even a single word?
Or a dream, a tool, a brain?
Flow down a stream, slash at ignorance
With ink and a scrap of paper from a poet’s bag.
But dogs are difficult, even if you have the knack?…
We must learn to quarter fear,
Instead, it is etched like
of buses burnt on the road,
~ Mehvash Amin
Given a thousand nights,
Open roads, discover ways,
Do you ever recall that demons are easy,
~ Bryan Thao Worra
RESULT: Pakistan won by 137 votes