Over the past three decades—

I have generated a novel, essays, poems, and short stories that have appeared in anthologies, newspapers, magazines, and online publications.

Sehba Sarwar Writer Activist
Sehba Sarwar teaching writing workshop Voices of the Displaced at Project Row Houses, Houston; photo by Shaista Parveen

My work moves between Pakistan, the US, and in spaces in between, collapsing borders while tackling women’s issues, displacement, and migration.

Two of my essays appeared in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. In “Karachi’s Winter Days,” I write about a dramatic ending after a family picnic at a Karachi beach, while “A Delicate Matter in the Examination Room,” tells the story of a refugee, who shares the challenges and humor of translating medical terms.

As artistic director/founder for Voices Breaking Boundaries (VBB), an arts organization that I started in 2000 after writing a protest poem about events unfolding in Pakistan, I visualized and directed VBB’s Borderlines publications, and two of my essays appear in Borderlines Volumes One and Three.

In both essays, I share about risks that arise as a result of a family pattern of migration from India to Pakistan and the US.

Alongside my creative nonfiction essays, I continue to create fiction.

My short story, “Soot,” published by Feminist Press in an anthology, And the World Changed (ed. Muneeza Shamsie), is about a Pakistani woman pursuing a graduate internship at an Indian non-profit organization. Another story “A Sandstone Past,” in Neither Night Nor Day: 13 Stories By Women Writers From Pakistan (ed. Rakshanda Jalil), is told in the voice of a 14-year-old, who recounts a story that highlights the impact of 1947 Partition on contemporary Karachi.

Book covers: And the World Changed and Neither Night Nor Day

Select Publications

Essay: “Invisible Lines.” Borderlines Volume Three. Eds. Margot Backus and Maria Gonzalez. Houston: Voices Breaking Boundaries, Spring 2017.

Essay: “A Delicate Matter in the Examination Room.” Lives column, New York Times Magazine, 2016.

Essay: “What Is Home?” Borderlines Volume Two, pp 29-36. Eds. Margot Backus and Maria Gonzalez. Houston: Voices Breaking Boundaries, 2015.

Interview: “An Interview with Shirin Herman.” Borderlines Volume Two, pp 22-28. Eds. Margot Backus and Maria Gonzalez. Houston: Voices Breaking Boundaries, 2015.

Essay: Skyping My Father Goodbye.” Gray Matters, Houston Chronicle, Houston, May 6, 2015.

Essay: No Borders: Delhi 25 Years Later. Aman Ki Asha, Karachi, Pakistan, February 04, 2015.

Essay: “That Long Monday Afternoon.” Borderlines Volume 1, pp 85-88. Eds. Margot Backus and Maria Gonzalez. Houston: Voices Breaking Boundaries, 2014.

Essay:”Bapsi Sidhwa’s Laughter, Tea and Novels.” Houston Chronicle, December 5, 2014.

Essay: “Bangladesh’s Unresolved History of Independence.” Creative Time Reports, December 16, 2013.

Essay: “The Story Behind the Stories.” Homes and Histories, pp 3-7. Eds. Sehba Sarwar and Joshua N. Turner. Houston: Voices Breaking Boundaries, Fall 2013.

Essay: “Invisible Thread.”Women Under Siege, pp 3-7. Eds. Sehba Sarwar and Joshua N. Turner. Houston: Voices Breaking Boundaries: Fall 2013.

Essay: “Freedmen’s Town Lives!” CITE 91, A Hand-Made Issue, Rice Design Alliance, March 2013.

Blog posts: Poet-in-Residence for Poets & Writers, October 2012: October 1. October 9, October 15, October 22.

Essay: Op-Ed: Observing social change, in Houston and Karachi, Houston Chronicle, Houston, TX, January 29, 2012.

Poems: “Doc. 101: Intro to Life and How To Live It and Why Are You Looking at Me like That? Vallum Contemporary Poetry, 9:1 | Winter 2012: 27-30 (Canada).

Essay: “Slipping Between Borders.” South Asian Review, Special Issue, Pakistani Creative Writing in English, 31.3 pp. 106-11. Co-guest eds. Fawzia Afzal-Khan and Waseem Anwar. October 2011.

Essay: “Devouring Mangoes with Gusto.” Dawn Books & Authors, 14 August, 2011.

Essay: “Think Global/Act Local.” Houston Chronicle Op-Ed. 30 January, 2011.

Essay: “The poor are the hardest hit by devastation in Pakistan.” Houston Chronicle, 12 September, 2010.

Essay: “For Choice.” in an on-line roundtable Pens and Swords. The Mantle, 26 January, 2010.

Essay: “Education is the key to peace.” Houston Chronicle, 17 October, 2009, B-15.

Essay: “Sisters in Struggle: Karachi & Houston.” CITE Magazine. Rice Design Alliance, 79 Summer 2009: 9.

Essay: “Heartbeat.” Callaloo Salutes Texas Writers. 32.1 (2009): 235-240.

Short story: “Soot.” And the World Changed: Anthology of Short Stories by Pakistani Women Writers. Ed. Muneeza Shamsie. New York: Feminist Press, 2008.

Essay: “Lives: Karachi’s Winter Days.” New York Times Sunday Magazine, 30 March 2008.

Blog post: “Kalidas in NAPA in Karachi.” Words Without Borders blog. 16 January 2008.

Essay: “Sisters in Struggle: Karachi & Houston.” CITE Magazine. Rice Design Alliance, 79 Summer 2009: 9.

Essay: “Heartbeat.” Callaloo Salutes Texas Writers. 32.1 (2009): 235-240.

Short story: “Soot.” And the World Changed: Anthology of Short Stories by Pakistani Women Writers. Ed. Muneeza Shamsie. New York: Feminist Press, 2008.

Essay: “Lives: Karachi’s Winter Days.” New York Times Sunday Magazine, 30 March 2008.

Blog post: “Kalidas in NAPA in Karachi.” Words Without Borders blog. 16 January 2008.

Poems: “Why I Can’t/ Don’t Write About the War” and “Tearing Wires, Building Bridges.” ASIA: Magazine of Asian Literature 3.4 (2008): 94-103.

Poem: “Tearing Wires, Building Bridges.” BorderSenses online Magazine, June 2007.

Poems: “For René” and “Jamshed Road.” Alhamra Literary Review, Volume 2, Spring 2007: 116-118.

Essay: “Calling All Asia.” ASIA: Magazine of Asian Literature. 2.2 (2007): 375-379.

Short story: “A Sandstone Past” in Neither Day nor Night: Pakistani Women Writers. Ed. Rakshanda Jalil. New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2007.

Excerpt: “An adapted excerpt from Black Wings.” And the World Changed: Anthology of Short Stories by Pakistani Women Writers (ed. Muneeza Shamsie). Karachi: Oxford University Press, Pakistan,, 2005.

Essay: “Recovering my Voice.” GOOD. Ed. Mel Chin with support from Polly Koch (Essay commissioned by Toni Beauchamp.), Houston, 2000.

Currently...

I am working on a memoir as well as generating essays, short stories, and poems.

CONTACT

I am an author and speaker, an artist, and a community and cultural activist.

If I can use my talents and passions to inspire you or your network to push boundaries and become involved in our communities, please connect with me. I offer a range of services including: readings, workshops, courses, or multidisciplinary performances/installations. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sehba Sarwar Art Car
Front hood of my art car, Digital Meets Pakistani Truck Art, featuring stickers of buraq images from Karachi; photo by Burnell McCray