Playwright, translator and pioneering poet of English in Pakistan, Taufiq Rafat (1927- 1998), was the finest verse practitioner of his generation. By postulating the fundamental “Pakistani Idiom” in English writing, he defined the way for subsequent writers and provided a critical framework of serious scholarly application.

Born in Sialkot in 1927, Rafat was educated at Deradun, Aligarh, and Government College, Lahore.

His work featured in several OUP collections of Pakistani English poetry, including the early First Voices (1964), Pieces of Eight (1970), Wordfall (1976) and was anthologised abroad in Poems of the Common Wealth, Mentor’s Modern Asian Literature and The Encounter, a leading literary journal of the twentieth century.

His first collection of poems written between 1947-78, Arrival of the Monsoon 1985) was followed by the posthumously published Half Moon (2009), a collection of poems compiled by the author himself, written between 1979-83.

He suffered a serious stroke in 1984, and although he recovered from it to talk and walk again, he did not take to writing after that till he died peacefully at home in Lahore in 1998.

His poems have been set in secondary school and college English courses in Africa, Australia, UK, and the United States, as well as in the English syllabi in the Punjab and Sindh provinces.

Rafat’s renditions, in English, of Punjabi classics such as Puran Bhagat by Qadir Yar (1802-1891), published in 1983, and the poems of the great Sufi master Bulleh Shah (1680-1757), received acclaim at home and abroad.

These are an accomplished poet’s creative interpretations of the work of two master-poets who had profound influence on Urdu and Punjabi writing, oral lore and music over the centuries. Forthcoming books by Rafat include his unpublished full-length play in blank verse, Foothold, and translations of Punjabi lullabies and contemporary Punjabi poetry.