Letter from N. M. Rashed

Rashed, N. M. Letter from N. M. Rashed. To Coppola, Carlo. Apr. 11, 1966. 1 p. 1 sheet. 8 x 11.5". Typewritten. Letter from N. M. Rashed to Carlo Coppola, PhD student at University of Chicago, regarding a possible interview in the periodical Mahfil. English. Box 2. Folder 5: English translations of NMR poetry and letters to editors. 014. Digitized by Zahra Sabri. Catalogued by Zain Mian. Donated (2015) by Yasmin Rashed Hassan to the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University, Montreal. Full item here.
In 1966, Rashed exchanged letters with Carlo Coppola. Today, Coppola is a distinguished scholar of South Asia and a Professor Emeritus at Oakland University.[1] At the time, however, he was still a graduate student completing his PhD on Progressive Urdu Poetry at the University of Chicago.[2] Rashed was meanwhile resident in New York, where he worked as Director of the United Nations Information Center for Iran.[3]

In the letter preceding this one, Coppola solicits an interview from Rashed. This interview is meant for publication in Mahfil, a journal of South Asian literature that Coppola co-founded with C. M. Naim in 1963. Coppola intended this interview for a special issue of Mahfil that would focus on literary culture in Pakistan. In the previous letter, Coppola informed Rashed he would be in New York for the Association of Asian Studies Convention between the 4th and 6th of April. He asked Rashed about the possibility of recording an interview during this time, but mentioned that he would need a tape-recorder as bringing his own would prove difficult. This interview, he tells Rashed, would examine current trends in Pakistani poetry, and address more general questions about the literary situation in Pakistan.
A summary of Rashed’s response is below:
From: N.M. Rashed, Room 1037, United Nations Headquarters, New York, N.Y., 10017. Written 04/11/1966.
To: Mr Carlos [sic] Coppola, Box No. 39, Foster Hall, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 60637. Replied 05/11/1966.[4]
Rashed mentions he was unable to send a positive reply to Coppola’s letter as he remained unsure of his return from Geneva by April 6th. He has returned to New York on the 8th and inquires about Coppola’s visit and his possible disappointment at not being able to meet Rashed.
Rashed echoes Coppola’s feelings that it would be difficult to record at the Asia Society. He informs him that tape-recording equipment is available at the UN office but it would be unsuitable for such personal use. Rashed mentions that he does not have a tape-recorder at home, but offers to answer Coppola’s questions via post. He suggests having a friend voice the questions on Coppola’s behalf, should recording equipment become available.
As per Rashed’s suggestion, the interview was conducted via post. Rashed was very particular about his interviews: not only did he reorder and remove some of Coppola’s questions, but also insisted on first recording his answers and then having them transcribed. This, he felt, would preserve the freshness of the interview and make it “much more natural” than otherwise.[5]

Despite Rashed’s keenness, however, the idea of an issue of Mahfil ;on Pakistani literature failed to materialise for quite some time. This likely happened as a result of the numerous difficulties Coppola faced in gathering submissions from other writers and translators, most of whom proved much less forthcoming than Rashed.[6] Indeed, though this interview was completed in 1966, it did not appear in Mahfil until 1971.[7] By this time, an Urdu translation had already been published in Rashed’s Lā = Insān, which came out in 1969.

The Mahfil interview can be read here.
1 "Department: - Department of Modern Languages and Literatures - Oakland University - Acalog ACMS," accessed August 12, 2015, http://catalog.oakland.edu/preview_entity.php?catoid=20&ent_oid=641&returnto=1555.
2 Coppola, Carlo. "Urdu poetry, 1935-1970: The Progressive Episode." The University of Chicago, 1975.
3 Zakir, Mohammed. Poems of N. M. Rashed: A Poet of the Third World.New Delhi: M. D. Publishing, 1995. p. 29.
4 Coppola’s first name is "Carlo" and not "Carlos" as Rashed has written here.
5 Letter from N.M. Rashed to Carlo Coppola, May 20th, 1966. Letter in Noon Meem Rashed Archive.
6 Letter from Carlo Coppola to N. M. Rashed, September 24, 1966. Letter in Noon Meem Rashed Archive.
7 Mahfil 7, no. 1/2 (1971): front matter.

Article by Zain Mian
August 12, 2015

To Cite the Article

Mian, Zain. "Letter from N. M. Rashed." Noon Meem Rashed Archive, Aug 12, 2015.

To Cite the Item:

Rashed, N. M., “Letter from N. M. Rashed,” Noon Meem Rashed Archive, accessed June 22, 2024, https://nmrashedarchive.com/item/NMRArch-02-05-014-letter-nmr-coppola.




Rāshid, N. M., -- 1910-1975


[no text]


[no text]


IsRelatedTo NMRArch-2-05-044-mahfil-cover-inside, IsRelatedTo NMRArch-2-05-045-mahfil-interview-corr






Rashed, N. M.


Coppola, Carlo


[no text]


[no text]


[no text]



Folder No.


Folder Name

English translations of NMR poetry and letters to editors

Item No.



Letter from N. M. Rashed to Carlo Coppola, PhD student at University of Chicago, regarding a possible interview in the periodical Mahfil.





No. of Files


No. of Pages


No. of Sheets


Physical Dimensions

8 x 11.5"


Zahra Sabri


Zain Mian


Yasmin Rashed Hassan

Year of Donation



Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University, Montreal