Tag Archives: H. Masud Taj

Soul Animated: Review of Alphabestiary

Rajiv Trivedi

alphabestiary_coverIn his introduction, Barrie Poet Laureate Dr. Bruce Meyer informs us why this volume was conceived as an Emblem book. During early Renaissance, popular literary works featured elaborate woodcuts and these illustrations were accompanied by poems to present the idea, before the topic in question was discussed in detail. He says,

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…part of sixthness

“h equals ten raised to the power of minus twenty seventh part of 6.6thness” With similar mathematical abstractions weaving near-concrete images, Taj Masood continues the oral tradition of poetry. He holds that poetry, born in head should reside there till other heads are ready to lend an ear. The images form and dissolve to reappear; they resurface, honed and enriched by flow of life meanwhile.

Orality carries an authenticity not found in the paper-rigid fixity of the material world. It is authenticated by life itself. The Classical traditions aim to capture human achievements; the oral traditions merely allow them a playground.

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Knowledge rewarded

Being vital for any civilized society, education often is taken for granted. But occasionally the busy wheels of life stop for a moment to notice those who serve equally as they stand and wait. It is heartening whenever that happens.

Such an occasion was the 10th annual EduGala held at Algonquin College where along with others, Carleton professors Leighann Neilson and H. Masud Taj were presented with Capital Educator Awards on Thursday evening from the Ottawa-Carleton Learning Foundation (OCLF), which facilitates dialogue and action to support public education in the community – from Kindergarten to PhD.

Leighann Neilson has been an assistant professor of marketing in the Sprott School of Business since 2006. Neilson designs her courses in keeping with her philosophy that learning, especially in undergraduate courses, “doesn’t have to hurt.” Students say her sense of humour is one of the things they most enjoy in her class. Neilson believes in integrating teaching and research, frequently bringing insights from her research in not-for-profit marketing or the Canadian wine industry into the classroom.

H. Masud Taj is an adjunct professor at Carleton. He conducts design studios at the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism and lectures on Muslim civilizations at the Centre for Initiatives in Education.  Both his studios and his lectures are premised on “alterity” − to know ourselves, we need to know the other. He is the director of Transnational Architectural Journeys with projects in India where he delivered the keynote at the 2ndInternational Conference of Islamic Art and Architecture. As an architect, he was mentored by the Egyptian visionary Hasan Fathy, and as a calligrapher, by Italic master David Hosbrough.

His poetry is archived in the University’s Special Collection.

The award ceremony can be viewed here.

Teaching is a futuristic activity that never loses sight of past. It is considered to be and often appears, a profession but teaching is a call. As the saying goes some instruct, others inform but the best inspire. It is in the dreams of their students that teachers live. One of the awardees, Taj  represented the spirit of eternal teacher in his acceptance speech.

I am pleased to win the Capital Educators Award. To those who nominated me: thank you for your trust. All finalists here and my colleagues at Azreili School of Architecture and Urbanism are dedicated teachers in their own ways and many more deserving than I. Hence I accept the award on their behalf.

I thank all my students at Azreili School of Architecture and Urbanism as well as life-long learners that I lecture to at Centre for Initiatives in Education at Carleton University. I also thank students and colleagues at the International Academy of Science & Technology here as well as at Sir JJ College of Architecture, Rizvi School of Architecture, and Pillai School of Architecture in India and I recall my teachers there in gratitude – Sardar Muhammad Malik of Blue Mountains School and Prof Yatin Chandawarker of Bandra School of Art.

In my forthcoming book of poems, Alphabestiary (with exegesis by Dr Bruce Meyer) the Grasshopper says:

Map your senses

On to my frame of reference,

Your thighs will bulge

With muscular insights.

You will witness

The world the way I do,

Take a leap of faith,

Fly.

I thank my family for their insights and my parents for their faith in us (my sisters too are teachers). Parents faith in their children remain unshaken: they told me I was going to win the award and that I should read out their greetings to all the teachers assembled here. So here is the message from my 86 year old parents:

Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) said : “God, His angels and all those in heavens and on earth, even ants in their hills and fish in the water call down blessings on those who teach others beneficial knowledge.

Salute to all who teach and blessings to all who learn.

Knowledge is its own reward, teaching, own joy.

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