Baqir Khan brings us two poems which have been important to him as an Hazara living first under persecution in Pakistan and then as a refugee arriving in Australia. The first poem ‘Toofan’ literally means storm and refers to the long struggle of liberation and enlightenment for the Hazara people. It was written by the great Hazara reformist and historian Faiz Mohammad Katib. Baqir shares it with us in his native language Hazaragi.
His second choice is ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley, a poem which has given him strength and comfort over a lifetime. He tells the story of finding the poem among books sold by the kilo by streets vendors in Pakistan when he was a young boy. ‘Invictus’, Baqir later found out, was a poem important also to Nelson Mandela in his time on Robben Island.
‘Invictus’ from Book of Verses, William Ernest Henley, 1888
‘Toofan’, unpublished, untranslated into English
Baqir Khan is a multilingual poet and humanitarian innovator and collaborator. He manages the Community Led Projects & Volunteering Program at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Innovation Hub. He is also an adjunct lecturer at RMIT, where he teaches Language Management in International Organisations.