The kuliyat(collected works) of Kashmiri poet Abdul Ahad Azad (1903-1948) remain out of print since last being published in 2004.
Kuliyat- e- Azad was first published by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art and Culture in 1967 under the editorship of Padam Nath Ganjoo, Azad’s close friend, and sold out within a few years.
The Kuliyat have since remained out of print- save a few copies of the second edition brought out by the Academy in 2004.
“It is sad that a poet like Azad has been ignored. It’s the Academy’s inefficiency that they have not republished his kuliyat,” Zarfeef Ahmad Zareef, noted poet and activist, told Kashmir Reader.
At Kitaab Ghar, the Academy-run bookshop, the only available work on Azad is a 2002 special issue of Sheeraza Urdu, a literary journal produced by the Academy.
“The Academy cannot publish another edition unless there is a demand for it,” Abid Ahmad, editor Sheeraza English, told Kashmir Reader.
Not many buy that argument. “Azad’s poetry is an indictment of oppressive regimes. He was a true revolutionary voice. His poetry is utterly relevant in these times. It should be widely available,” Zareef said.
“The Cultural Academy takes a lot of time in bringing out a new edition. Can you imagine that the Kashmiri dictionary was out of print for five years before they released a new edition last year,” Altaf Hussain, a Kashmiri language teacher from Baramulla told Kashmir Reader.
Haroon Rashid, the current in charge Secretary of the Jammu Kashmir Academy of Arts and Languages said that he has issued the print order for reprinting Azad’s kuliyat.
“One of the first few things that I did after taking over as Secretary was to issue the order of reprinting Abdul Ahad Azad’s Kuliyat,” Haroon Rashid told Kashmir Reader.
When asked that Azad’s Kuliyat has been effectively out of print for more than a decade now, he said, “I have only taken over the Academy secretary in charge six months ago and I cannot comment why it has been out of print for so long,” he added.
Rashid said that the Academy would have initiated the reprinting process but its paper was completely destroyed in last year’s floods.
“Due to the total destruction of our paper stacked in Lal Mandi office, we had to halt the process of reprinting,” Rashid told Kashmir Reader.
Rashid however admitted that the reprinting process will take time and it won’t be soon that readers will be seeing Azad’s kuliyat in print.