“Being a cadet has proven to bring a revolutionary change in every aspect of my life. It has given me opportunities which I had never had before. It helped me bring finesse into my skills, organization into my life and brought about positive changes in my personality. It helped me become independent in my decisions and made me who I am today” says Zain Ul Abidin Khan Alizai in this exclusive interview to KARVAN.
1. When did you decide to become a Cadet?
The decision of me joining a military institution was made long ago by my parents because my elder brother joined before me. It was only partially my choice after the sixth grade. But nonetheless, it has been a decision which I always cherish and never regret.
2. What kind of poetry do you enjoy writing? Where do you get the inspiration?
Poetry, to me, is something very independent and blossoming. I don’t believe in putting labels on poetry for it takes the essence out of it. I find poetry in everything around me. My inspiration brews from the experiences I have in life, from patterns, incidents, pondering, the weather, nature, heartbreak, news, food, essentially everything that constitutes my entirety. Everything! Sometimes, I’d hear a randomly blurted phrase from someone and it would be enough for me to latch onto an idea, another path to tread. It is that simple. I often say this, if you observe deep enough, you will find poetry in everything this world has to offer!
3. Tell us about the declamation contests you have taken part in?
Taking part in declamation contests has been a recent interest of mine which started off, out of the blue, when I was selected to represent my college at the All-Pakistan Declamation contest held at Pakistan Scouts Cadet College, Batrasi. Our team was fortunate enough to clinch the “Overall Best Team Trophy”. That served as a boost and since then, I have been fortunate enough to win trophies at Abbottabad Public School, Army Burnhall College, and others. It has been a wonderful experience so far!
4. What rules should aspiring debaters follow to become successful?
I would say try to learn from your experiences. Even if you lose, you should always try getting something better out of the experience. Learn from those who are your senior. Have a stronghold on your topic. In declamations, try adapting an oratory style that best suits you. Be authentic and original and always aspire to control the emotions and the sensations of the crowd and develop the ability to resonate with the audience!
5. You have also performed in theatre. How was the experience? Which character did you like imitating the most and why?
I am currently working on acting a part of Shakespeare’s renowned play, Macbeth. I’ll be acting out Banquo. This is going to be my first big part for which I am very excited! Theatre gives me the ability to channel my expressions and emotions which is something I cherish a lot. Poetry, along with performance is something very close to my heart.
6. Which books and novels do you enjoy reading and which authors (from Pakistan and abroad) are your favorite?
I tend to read everything except paranormal and romance. I am always a sucker for good contemporary poetry, for my interest is more in contemporary poetry than classic. I don’t have a particularly favorite author but I very much enjoy reading Garcia, Ray Bradbury, Dostoevsky, and Orwell. My favorite contemporary writers include Arvin Ahmadi, Adam Silvera, Celeste Ng, Tayari Jones and many more. I have a lot of favorite contemporary poets, some of whom are Max Ritvo, Kaveh Akbar, Anis Mojgani, Yusuf Komunyakaa, sam sax, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Ocean Vuong and many more! There has been a recent work being put out by younger poets of my generation, some I particularly admire a lot, namely Kathryn Hargett, Lydia Havens, Brynne-rebele Henry, Christina Im, Daniel Blokh. Among Pakistani authors, I love to read Aamer Hussain, Muhammad Hanif, Zulfikar Ghose, Omar Shahid, H.M. Naqvi, Kamila Shamsie and a few more. The influx of budding poets is very refreshing and heartwarming.
7. For which two international magazines are you serving as Poetry Editor?
I am currently serving as a poetry reader for The Cerurove. I am on a hiatus from working over as a poetry editor for Parallel Ink.
8. As a cadet, what factors do you think contribute to the development of a personality?
Being a cadet has proven to bring a revolutionary change in every aspect of my life. It has given me opportunities which I had never had before. It helped me bring finesse into my skills, organization into my life and brought about positive changes in my personality. It helped me become independent in my decisions and made me who I am today.
9. What are your plans?
I plan to put out my debut chapbook by the end of this year if all goes well, along with continuing my education for now. I also hope to take part in spoken word contests and polish that skill of mine. Literature and formal education will move along in parallel for now. I will also be sending out my poems in many more different journals throughout the year.
10. Your message to the youth of Pakistan?
The youth of this nation must realize they are our future. The urge to move forward, to aspire, is what is lacking. The youth needs to pull themselves out of this phase of disorientation and focus on how they can contribute to bringing changes in their surroundings. They need to shed off their despair and believe in themselves first. They need to believe that everyone is blessed in one’s own beautiful way. The magnitude of the contribution is not what matters; it is the dedication that counts! The opportunities are boundless and the benefits are never-ending!
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