Basir Sultan Kazm

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Basir Sultan Kazmi

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Toronto, 2016
Born4 August 1953
Sahiwal (Montgomery), Punjab, Pakistan
EducationGovernment College Lahore
Alma materUniversity of Manchester
  • Poet
  • Playwright
  • Critic
  • Lecturer
Spouse(s)Dr Faraza Basir Wasti
ChildrenDr Wajiha Basir
AwardsMBE for services to literature as a poet (2013)
writer-in-residence, North West Playwrights Workshops (1992)

Basir Sultan Kazmi (Urdu: باصِر سلطان کاظمی, born 4 August, 1953) is an Urdu poet and playwright. His poetry “is rooted in the richness of Urdu literary tradition, but also looks outwards to world literature.”[1] His plays were performed in the north-west of England.[2]

Life and career

Basir’s father, Nasir Kazmi (1925–1972), a famous Urdu poet and mother Shafiqa Begum, an educationist, settled in Lahore. Basir was born in Sahiwal (Montgomery) where his maternal grandparents lived.[3] He was brought up in Lahore. As a student of the Government College Lahore, he was elected as the Secretary of the Students’ Union (1972) and edited the college magazine Ravi (1974). As a lecturer and the Vice President of the Government College Dramatic Club (GCDC) he produced and directed a few plays, including Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (1989). He came to the UK in 1990 for higher studies at the University of Manchester.

Basir’s M.Ed. dissertation was on ‘Education of Women in Pakistan’ and the title of his M.Phil. thesis was ‘Literacy in Pakistan: The Influences of Orthodox Religious Thought on Female Literacy.’ Basir has taught at high schools, colleges and two universities, i.e. University of Bradford & University of Chester [2] [4] in the UK. He also worked as a Helpline Adviser, BBC Numeracy Campaign, ‘Count Me In’ (1997) and a Helpline Adviser, Channel 4 Literacy Campaign, ‘Brookside Literacy Project’ (1999).

Basir co-founded the Asian theatre company Peshkar, in the North West, UK, in 1992. He has been the news editor/reader for the BBC’s Asian Programme Jhankaar (1990–91) and a Literature Adviser to the North West Arts Board (1993–96). Basir has been a member of the Executive Committee and the Forum of the Salford and Trafford Education Action Zone (1999 – 2002) and the Executive Committee of the National Education Union, Trafford Division (1998-2020).


Basir wrote his first poem when he was 11 and recited it at the Radio Pakistan Lahore.[3] Encouraged and guided by his father, he continued to write and in a few years time started getting published in different magazines. Basir’s father died in 1972, at the age of 46. During his lifetime he had only one poetry collection published. Basir supervised the publication of his father's unpublished collections and wrote detailed introductions of two of them, i.e. Sur Ki Chaaya and Pehli Baarish. Nasir had also prepared selections of a few classical poets. Basir compiled these selections and got them published with his introductions.

Basir’s first book was a long play, Bisaat (1987). It came as a surprise to some readers who had been expecting to see his poetry collection. Basir moved to the UK in 1990 and wrote more plays, which were staged in Greater Manchester and Liverpool. His poetry began to incorporate ideas and themes based on his experience in the West. Tarquin Hall wrote in The Times, London: “Basir Sultan Kazmi’s poems are reflections on racism and the indignity of being overeducated and unemployed. He also celebrates the gypsy existence.”[5]

From 1997 to 2018, Basir’s four collections of poetry, one volume of collected works, one of collected poetical works, one critical biography, a few critical, biographical and autobiographical articles and translations were published.

Mini Mushaira

In 1996, Basir and his poet friends, Debjani Chatterjee, Simon Fletcher and Brian D’ Arcy established a multi- cultural and multi-lingual poetry group, Mini Mushaira. One of their aims was to bring the communities together through language and literature. “What Mini Mushaira offers is richly diverse poetry coupled with a commitment to literary translation, multi-lingual performance and the exploration of different poetic forms and styles.”[6]

Katrina Dixon wrote in the daily Scotsman: “Mini Mushaira provides a vision of what could be possible in the future, for despite the differences in language background and beliefs, the three poets speak with one voice.”[7]

The group gave performances and conducted workshops all over Britain. Basir went to Lahore with Simon in 1997 and then with Debjani in 2006.[8] The three poets also performed at the Oslo Mela (festival) in August 2012.

Awards and honours

  • Writer-in-Residence Award, North West Playwrights Workshops, UK, 1992.[2]
  • ‘Taking Time’, selected by the Poems for the Waiting Room Project (2001), and displayed, along with Urdu text, in UK hospitals and clinics.[9]
  • Couplet, Dil laga leitay hein ahl-e-dil watan koi bhi ho/ Phool ko khilnay se matlab hai chaman koi bhi ho, with English translation (The true-hearted can settle – no matter which land./ A flower wants to bloom, wherever its garden.), carved in stone and installed at McKenzie Square Slough, UK in 2008.[2] (photo above right)
  • MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list (2013), for services to literature as a poet.[10]
  • Fellow of Royal Literary Fund (2008-2012 & 2015-16).[2] [4]
  • Ali Sardar Jafri Literary Award, Aligargh Alumni Association, Houston, USA, 2017.
  • Play, Bisaat, included in the A Level Syllabus, UK, 2018.[11]
  • Bazm-e-Sadaf International Lifetime Achievement Award, Qatar, 2018.[12]

Published works


  • Mauj-e-Khayal, 1997.
  • Chaman Koi Bhi Ho, 2009.
  • Hawa-e-Tarab, 2015.
  • Chaunsath Khanay Chaunsath Nazmein, 2015.
  • Shajar Honay Tak (collected works: poetry & plays). Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications, 2015. ISBN 10: 969-35-2848-4 & ISBN-13:978-969-35-2848-0
  • Ab Wahan Raat Ho Ga’ee Hi Gi (collected poetical works). Delhi: Creative Star Publications, 2018.
  • Passing Through (translations of Urdu ghazals & poems, with Urdu text). Manchester: Crocus Books/Commonword, 2014. ISBN 9 780946 745739
  • Generations of Ghazals: Ghazals by Nasir Kazmi & Basir Sultan Kazmi (translations of Urdu ghazals), (with Nasir Kazmi), Redbeck Press, Bradford, 2003. ISBN 0-904338-08-9
  • Ghazal Nasl der Nasl (translations of Urdu ghazals, with Urdu text), (with Nasir Kazmi). Lahore: Jehangir Book Depot, 2006.
  • English translations of ghazals & poems published in British magazines and anthologies.[13]


  • Bisaat, 1987.
  • Shareek-e-Dard, 2005.
  • Na’ee Zindagi, 2015.
  • Robot 420, 2015.
  • The Chess Board (Bisaat’s translation). Hebden Bridge: Pennine Pens, 1997. ISBN 1 873378 27 0
  • Check Mate (Bisaat’s revised translation). Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications, 2019. ISBN 10: 969-35-3206-6 & ISBN-13:978-969-35-3206-7

Critical biography

  • Nasir Kazmi: Shakhsiat aur Fun. Islamabad: Pakistan Academy of Letters, 2007. ISBN-978-969-472-224-5

As editor

  • Nasir Kazmi’s Intekhaab-e-Mir, 1989.
  • Nasir Kazmi’s Intekhaab-e-Nazeer, 1989.
  • Nasir Kazmi’s Intekhaab-e-Wali, 1991.
  • Nasir Kazmi’s Intekhaab-e-Insha, 1991.
  • Khushk Chashmay Ke Kinaaray (Nasir Kazmi’s prose writings); 1981 (Co-edited).


  • Basir recorded a series of podcasts for Royal Literary Fund, (2) i.e. Why I Write; How I write; Writers Who Inspire me; The Best Advice I Ever Received; Stage Or Book (with Julia Copus) and Poets of The Ghazal (with Mimi Khalvati and Debjani Chatterjee).

Plays performed

  • Bisaat, Act One, Scene Two, at Pearl Continental Lahore (April 1987) & PTV Drama Festival (June 1987).
  • Robot 420 (Urdu/English/Bengali), at Werneth Park, Oldham & Abraham Moss Centre, Manchester, UK (June/July, 1992).
  • Something to Share (English translation of Shareek-e-dard), at Unity Theatre Liverpool (March 1993) & Green Room Manchester (April 1993).
  • New Horizons (Urdu/English/Bengali), at Sixth Form College Oldham (1992), Nia Centre Manchester (1993), Colesium Theatre Oldham (1994), Octagon Theatre Bolton (1994) and Contact Theatre, Manchester (1994).

Dissertations, thesis and a special issue on Basir’s works

  • Muhammad Tasawwur Abbas, Basir Sultan Kazmi ki Adabi Khidmaat. M.Phil. Thesis, Government College University, Faisalabad, Pakistan, 2019.
  • Khadija Saeed, Basir Sultan Kazmi ki Kuliyaat (Shajar Honay Tak) ka Tehqeeqi o Tanqeedi Ja’eza. B.A. Honours dissertation, Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan, 2018.
  • Tahira Khalid, Basir Sultan Kazmi bataur Ghazalgo. M.A. dissertation, Punjab University, 2014.
  • Sputnik, ‘Urdu Adab ka Roshan Sitaara-Basir Sultan Kazmi’, Volume 27, Issue 3, March, 2016, Classic Lahore.


  1. Debjani Chatterjee, Passing Through (back title), (Manchester: Crocus Books/Commonword, 2014). ISBN 9 780946 745739
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Basir Sultan Kazmi". Royal Literary Fund website. 22 January 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nasir Kazmi, Nasir Kazmi ki Diary (Lahore: Jehangir Book Depot, 1995), p121.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "International poet appointed Royal Literary Fellow at University of Chester". 22 January 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  5. Tarquin Hall, ‘Beside the Yorkshire Ganges’, The Times, London, June 3, 2006.
  6. Debjani Chatterjee, ‘A Little Bridge’ in Mark Robinson (ed.) Words Out Loud, (Exeter: Stride Publications, 2002), pp 69-75. ISBN 1 900152 84 3
  7. Katrina Dixon, ‘Speaking in tongues on a national verse day’, The Scotsman, Thursday, 9 October, 1997.
  8. Intizar Hussain, ‘A messenger of friendship’, Dawn (daily), April 16, 2006. Karachi.
  9. Poems for the Waiting Room Project (Hyphen-21, 2001)
  10. "No. 60534". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2013. p. 19.
  11. Pearson Edexcel Level 3 Advanced GCE in Urdu (listening, reading and writing) – Specification - Issue 1 – June 2018 c Pearson Education Limited 2018. p41.
  12. L. N. Mallick, ‘UK-based Pakistani litterateur finds Urdu literary scene in Qatar vibrant’, Qatar Tribune, February 27, 2017.
  13. Orbis (Autumn 1982, no 46); Wasafri (Issue 26, Autumn, 1997); A Little Bridge, Pennine Pens, 1997. ISBN 1 873378 77 7; The Northern Durbar: Poems Celebrating Fifty Years of Independence, (Kala Sangam, 1997); Agenda: An Anthology (Vol. 35, Winter-Spring, Agenda Magazine, 1998); Poems for the Waiting Room Project (Hyphen-21, 2001); Dream Catcher (Issue 11, Autumn, 2002); The EMLIT Project: European Minority Literatures in Translation (Brunel University, 2003); Jade Horse Torso: Poems and Translations (Sixties Press, 2003); Poetry Leeds (Issue 1, Winter Edition, 2003); Is a religious poem possible in the early 21st century? (Flarestack, 2004); Masala: Poems from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (Macmillan, 2005); Hair: A Journey Into the Afro & Asian Experience (Shorelines, UK, 2006); Private, No 39: I am Pakistan (Winter 2007-8; Italia); Fire (nos 29/30, 2008); The Suitcase Book of Love Poems (Suitcase/Shorelines, 2008); Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings, (Volume 9, Number 2, 2009); Pakistani Diaspora: Culture, Conflict and Change, (Oxford University Press, 2009); Another Bridge, 2012. ISBN 9780953626625; Sweet Tongues, Crocus Book of Food Poems (Commonword UK, 2013); Atlanta Review, Pakistan Issue (Volume XX, Issue Number 2, 2014); Writing the City in British Asian Diasporas (Routledge UK & New York, 2014); Close To Home, by Simon Fletcher, (Headland Publications, 2015.

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