Bushra Alvi Razzack: (Not) lost in translation

Writer, translator and poet Bushra Alvi Razzack about her journey with words

Published: 08th March 2020 08:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th March 2020 08:44 AM   |  A+A-

At the book launch of Dilliwali, IIC

At the book launch of Dilliwali, IIC

Express News Service

Meet Bushra Alvi Razzack – Founder of the poetry group, Delhi by Verse. She has compiled and edited Dilliwali: Celebrating the Woman of Delhi through Poetry (2018), an anthology by 94 poets. Her poems have featured in anthologies and online magazines, and her articles were published in Khaleej Times, Dawn, Rising Kashmir, among others.  She just completed translating writer Manzoor Ahtesham’s Hindi novel, Basharat Manzil, into English, is translating Urdu writer Jeelani Bano’s short stories into English, and is working on her novel. Photography and old buildings are other fascinations.


Your writing schedule?

I don’t follow a rigid schedule, but I plan to rectify that soon. A lot of ideas take root while commuting, and so I always keep a pencil and paper handy to jot down stray thoughts.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

I would say both. It energises and is cathartic too. Creating something beautiful from a mere thought can be very satisfying. Translating is fun, but can drain you pretty soon. Sometimes, it’s really difficult trying to find the right word to convey in the target language. So, I leave that portion and come back to it later. It always works. I also switch between projects on whim. So, if a Eureka moment for the novel I am working on pops up during a dull phase in the translation, I jump and pursue it till i t ’s there in my headspace.

Writing advice for your younger self ?

If there’s a novel in your head, just write it quick because the idea won’t remain floating in your mind till you’re ready to tick off other ‘have-to-do-it-first’ things.

Your favourite books?

Top on the list is The Golden Treasury – poet Francis Turner Palgrave’s compilation of the best songs and lyrical poems, by the greats including William Shakespeare, John Milton, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth and John Keats. This book was part of my school syllabus in Grade 8 and 9, and has been with me ever since. Then Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen... one of the most adored love stories that finds an echo in Indian families too. I have taught this book as part of my teaching assignments. Z` Then Delhi by Heart, where Raza Rumi offers unusual perspectives into the political and cultural capital of India.

Literary success vs number of copies sold?

Literary success is that praise and acknowledgement I receive from readers on how they loved my writing and how it has touched them deeply. However, receiving awards for my writing would be great, once I have a larger body of work.

Favourite spot/s in Delhi to write at?

I find my creative juices flowing when in the midst of nature. At home, my writing table is set near the window so that I can see the trees and hear birds sing. When deciding which direction my story should take, a stroll through the shaded environs of my neighbourhood or the park, gets me on track. But poetry tumbles out in my observation of people – be it at home, on the road, a crowded space, etc.

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