Omer Tarin

Omer Tarin

Omer Tarin (real name Omer Salim Khan), born March 1967, is a well-known Pakistani poet in English, research scholar, and social activist. In some editions of his works, the name is written as Omar Tarin.



Tarin was born in 1967 to the Tarin (or Tareen) family, or clan, of the Hazara region of the North-West Frontier (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), while his father was posted as a senior civil servant and administrator in Peshawar.[1] From his maternal side, he is related to the Hayat family, of the Khattar tribe of Wah, in North Punjab. He was educated at the Burn Hall School (now Army Burn Hall College), Abbottabad and the Aitchison College, Lahore, Pakistan, prior to graduating from the University of the Punjab, Lahore.[2] He later obtained various higher degrees in English and History/Postcolonial Studies from Pakistan and the United Kingdom respectively.


After a short time in the civil service of Pakistan, Tarin resigned to become a full time university lecturer and research scholar and involved himself in literary and academic pursuits. He has published four volumes of poetry in English so far, widely reviewed in Pakistan and abroad, as well as several poems published in anthologies and collections worldwide. His volumes of poetry are : A Sad Piper (1994; 1996 UK), The Anvil of Dreams (1995), Burnt Offerings (1996, 1997) and The Harvest of Love Songs (1997, 2000; and UK ed 2003). Since 2004, he has not published any new volumes of poems although he has been publishing poems independently from time to time [3]. In recent years, he has also been involved in various literary and historical projects of an academic nature, chiefly focussing on the colonial history of South Asia, in particular North-Western Pakistan. Recent academic publications include works on military history/campaigns on the Frontier and some work on Rudyard Kipling and Kipling's India[4]. A number of these works are available or referenced online, and were published in the Kipling Journal,[5] UK and the Journal of the Indian Military Historical Society, also the UK. He has diverse academic and literary interests and is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, UK, The Tolkien Society (UK), associate of the Kipling Society, and the Indian Military Historical Society (IMHS).

In addition to his literary and academic interests, Omer Tarin has also long been involved in limited social activism, especially in relation to environmental, forests and wildlife conservation, in his native area. He also makes occasional comments on various aspects of global politics and environmental issues in the media, from time to time[6].


Omer Tarin's poetry holds a noteable place in Pakistani poetry in English.[7] It has a certain erudite grace, a universal, humanitarian quality and passionate involvement that raises it above the general run of much of the work recently published in Pakistan and South Asia, generally.[8] It seems to be deeply influenced by the mystic, transcendental tradition of the great Sufi and Bhakti poets of the South Asian subcontinent, such as Hazrat Baba Farid 'Ganj Shakar', Baba Bulleh Shah, Rahman Baba, Kabir Das and even Guru Nanak, in addition to that of the classical Sufi poets and writers of Islam such as Rumi, Hafiz, Saadi and Attar-- in terms of its essential lyricism, its engagement with 'human' issues, problems and challenges[9]; as well as in the experimentation with form and content, in ways that have certainly not been attempted by other poets here today.[10] He has also a fascination with Japan and Japanese culture and esoteric, or meditative practices, which find reflection in his works.[11] In the words of Tariq Rahman, a noted Pakistani scholar and literary critic, "a certain force of vitality" and creative 'intensity' is to be found in Tarin's writings that unveils the depths of the poet's knowledge, wisdom and deep understanding of the cultural heritage of his own society as well as Western and other world literary-symbolic traditions[12] One of Tarin's early poetic mentors, to whom he owes a great deal and to whom he himself paid tribute, was the late Taufiq Rafat, one of the pioneers of English poetry in Pakistan/South Asia, an important scholar of Punjabi Sufic poetry in his own right[13] and his indelible influence is quite manifest in Tarin's own poetical development.

Tarin's poetry reflects certain basic, recurring qualities such as a broad, universal humanity; a mystical regard for nature, life and the universe[14]; a sense of the frailty of human existence and a continued concern with the central issues of life/death and immortality;[15] which also inform his style, and the system of symbolism and images that consequently arises from this, via which " patterns emerge in our perception of the world, of creation, of ourselves and our motivations".[16]

See also


  1. ^ Biographical information in the Introduction to "A Sad Piper", Leo Books, Islamabad, 1994 edition ISBN 969 8127 03 8; and 2nd edition London, UK, 1995, p. vi
  2. ^ Luminita Karim, article on Omer Tarin in Weekly Poetry Review, in "The Muslim" daily, Islamabad, 28th October 1994, p. 18
  3. ^ He has, however, recently brought out a small volume of prose writings, "Selected Shorter Essays", 2011. ISBN 978-1-105-15532-1; as well as a a collection of short stories, "From Hill and Plain" ISBN 978-1-105-18623-3
  4. ^ For example, see his article on Mahbub Ali in the Kipling Journal, No. 327, June 2008, pp.10-22 at
  5. ^ For example, in Vol 84, No 339, December 2010, pp. 35-52; and Vol 82, No 327, June 2008, pp. 10-22; also search can be made in the Society Journal's Online Author's Index ISSN 0023-1738
  6. ^
  7. ^ Pilkington, Introduction to 2nd ed 'A Sad Piper', 1996 ISBN 1860 3318 58
  8. ^ Mazhar ul Salam, Preface to 'Harvest Season', Islamabad, 1997 ISBN 969 8127 11 9
  9. ^ See Dr. Sophia Duvenant's review at
  10. ^ Ahmad Zafar, Review, 'Frontier Post' daily, Lahore, 12th May 1995, p.15; present newspaper website
  11. ^ For a detailed report on Haiku and Omer Tarin's work, please see Yasuhiko Shigemoto's interview in "The Mainichi" shimbun", Japan, issue of 15.8.1998; present Japanese website
  12. ^ Tariq Rahman, 'Review of Pakistani English Poetry', The News on Friday, 6th December 1996, p 30; now published as The News on Sunday, by "The News" daily, Pakistan,
  13. ^ Tarin, "Taufiq Rafat: In Memoriam", Obituary in The Pulse weekly, Islamabad, 30th Sept-Oct 6th 1998, n.p
  14. ^ See Dr. I.H. Malik's brief review at Alibris,
  15. ^ Prof E Cyprian, in a critical review "The Nation" daily, Pakistan, 16th July 1995, np, the general newspaper website
  16. ^ Review, Dr Acantha Gulzar, UK, at

Further reading

  • A. Rahim, Ed.(1999) "A Select Bibliography of Pakistani Literature in English" ed A Rahim, Islamabad.
  • Ian Hamilton, Ed. (1994). Section on Pakistani English poets/writers in "The Oxford Companion to 20th Century Literature".
  • "Poetry International" (Asia section), Ed by Prof Edwin Thumboo, Vol 7/8, SDSU Press, CA, USA, 2003. [1]
  • Review of Pakistani Literature in English in the "Journal of Commonwealth Literature ", 1997
  • Alamgir Hashmi, "Pakistani Literatura in 1993 and 1994" pub in Revista Alicantina de Studios Ingleses , No 13 (2000)
  • Dr Tariq Rahman "Review of Pakistani English Poetry", The News on Friday, The News International, Islamabad ed, 6 December 1996.
  • Dr Tariq Rahman "A History of Pakistani Literature in English", Lahore: Vanguard Books, 1991.
  • O Tarin "Taufiq Rafat: In Memoriam", in "Pulse' Weekly, Islamabad, Sept 30th- Oct 6th 1998, np.
  • Luminita Karim, Weekly Poetry Review, Daily 'The Muslim", Islamabad, 28th Oct 1994
  • B.King ed (1996) "New National and Postcolonial Literatures" Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Prof Eric Cyprian, "Poems of Considerable Merit"; A Critical Review of Omer Tarin's "The Anvil of Dreams" in daily "The Nation", Islamabad, 16 July 1995, np.

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