Poet of the East’s creative legacy celebrated in Shakespeare’s hometown

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Pakistan Consulate in Birmingham and Iqbal Academy (UK) host tribute to two literary greats


On Wednesday, 9 November the Pakistan Consulate, Birmingham, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Iqbal Academy hosted a joint celebration of two of the world’s leading writers, William Shakespeare and Dr. Sir Allama Mohammed Iqbal – the renowned poet-philosopher of the East who is regarded as a founding father of modern day Pakistan.  


It is the first time that Iqbal’s birthday, celebrated on 9th November, has been feted at the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of Britain’s greatest poet.  The evening of music and poetry performance was attended by leading figures and the wider community from both literary traditions, including the Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, His Excellency Syed Ibne Abbas.


Some of Iqbal’s best-loved poetry performed in Urdu and English, including Shikwa, Jawab-e-Shikwa (The Complaint, The Response to the Complaint) and his message to the youth Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua, a child’s prayer to God which is frequently sung in schools in Pakistan and across Asia, was performed by a group of children from Birmingham.  Actors from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust presented complementary sonnets and extracts from Shakespeare’s cannon, and Iqbal’s poem in praise of Shakespeare. Dhanak Music Group complimented the evening with live Sufi music inspired by Iqbal, featuring tabla, sitar, harmonium, flute, earthen pitcher and vocals.

Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, His Excellency Syed Ibne Abbas, said: “This celebration is a befitting tribute to our two literary greats. Though they lived and wrote more than two centuries apart, Shakespeare and Iqbal both speak to people around the world.  There are many striking similarities, their works, literature and thoughts relate to human emotions and transcends all space and time. The words of these two great men connect our cultures in so many ways and I’m encouraged to see their creative legacies continue to enrich the lives of future generations.”

Dr Diana Owen, Chief Executive of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “We are proud to be associated, through Shakespeare’s legacy, with the literary geniuses of other nations.  We are dedicated to the worldwide promotion of Shakespeare’s work and our centre here in Stratford is a natural hub – a global cultural meeting place – to connect people through Shakespeare. We are particularly keen to reach out to more communities in our region.  This collaboration with the Pakistan Consul and the Iqbal Academy is a great opportunity to forge new bonds of fellowship with our near neighbours in Birmingham and further afield.”

Mr Syed Ahmed Maroof, the Consul General of Pakistan in Birmingham, said: “Iqbal and Shakespeare’s creative geniuses brought our two communities even closer together and I look forward to building on these foundations to enable a stronger appreciation and inter-cultural understanding between our two nations.”

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Pakistan Consulate, Birmingham also announced a competition challenging young writers and artists to capture ‘The Landscape of My Youth’ in poetry or paint.  Shakespeare and Iqbal wrote memorably about the natural world around them and the lands of their birth, and this competition will be a showcase for equally compelling images in words or pictures from the young people of today.  Entrants might take inspiration from the literary greats, or from a special, personal incident, scene or setting that has shaped their own life.

Mr Syed Ahmed Maroof, the Consul General of Pakistan in Birmingham, added: “Many young people will have heard of both our celebrated poets, but many will have only a passing acquaintance with any of their works.  We hope this competition will encourage young writers and artists to explore Shakespeare’s and Iqbal’s works, and who knows, perhaps we will find the creative greats of the future.”

The competition is open to all young writers between the ages of 16 and 25.  The winner of the poetry competition will be invited to participate in the 2017 Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival (18-25 June 2017). The winning art entry will be displayed at Shakespeare’s New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon.   The winners of both categories will also enjoy a weekend stay for them and a guest in Shakespeare’s home town (travel excluded).   Entries will be judged by a panel representing Shakespeare and Iqbal.  

Deadline for entries is 1 May 2017. Poems should be up to a maximum of 400 words.  Artwork should be photographed or scanned as an image no bigger than A3 in size.  Entries can be emailed to, or posted to The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust c/o E Dollimore, The Landscape of My Youth, Henley Street, Stratford upon Avon, CV37 6QW.  For more information, visit


Press release issued by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. For more information, contact Alisan Cole, PR Manager on 01789 207132 / 07824 137638 or email /

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in Stratford-upon-Avon, and promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times all over the world. The charity runs formal and informal educational programmes for people of all ages. It holds the world’s largest Shakespeare-related museum and archives open free to the public, a collection which is designated as being of international importance. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust receives no public subsidy or direct revenue funding; it depends on income generated through the support of visitors, donors, volunteers and Friends. For more information, visit

The Iqbal Academy (UK) is dedicated to the dissemination of the message of the Poet-Philosopher of the East Allamah Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938).  It was first established by Mr Saeed Hassan Butt in Coventry, England, in 1971.  The Academy was registered as a Charitable Trust.  It was recognised by the Government of Pakistan, which gives it annual Grant-in-Aid.  The founder died in 1983.  In 1987, Dr Saeed Durrani became the new Chairman, and he greatly expanded the activities of the Academy.

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