Poetry News

Renowned Urdu poet publishes first English-language collection at 86

By Harriet Staff

The Oxford Mail interviews Akbar Alikhan, better known as Akbar Hyderabadi to readers of Urdu poetry. Alikhan moved to Oxford from Hyderabad in 1955 to study architecture, but never stopped writing the poetry that connected him to India.

He said: “I did not make a switch to poetry from architecture; poetry has always been a divining force in my life.

“My poems started off nostalgic, as I missed Hyderabad, but I would soon be inspired more by whom I met, and by what I read about the world.”

His five collections in Urdu have garnered him international recognition, awards and symposia invitations but remained inaccessible to his own family, who didn't grow up with the language. After forty years of publishing only in Urdu, Alikhan is releasing his first English-language book Reflections at the age of 86.

He said: “For many years I wrote the occasional English poem. In fact, in the late 1960s/early 70s I dabbled with a bit of English songwriting, which may have been the catalyst. And in the mid-70s I presented a weekly programme on Radio Oxford for Asian listeners called abrang, which means multi colours.

“I published Reflections because I wanted to reach out to poets who may not have been brought up with Urdu, and also to my own immediate family."

Originally Published: March 11th, 2011