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Kurdish Literature

January 2014

Image: Bahman Ghobadi, Rhino Season. Dir. Bahman Ghobadi. Mij Film, 2012.

Image: Bahman Ghobadi, Rhino Season. Dir. Bahman Ghobadi. Mij Film, 2012.

This month we present writing by Kurdish authors. Writers from the various regions and dialects of Kurdistan consider questions of nation, language, and identity, providing fresh perspectives on this ancient culture and its contemporary conflicts. Bakhtiyar Ali describes an assassin’s tipping point. On her deathbed, Yavuz Ekinci’s widow remembers the true love of her youth. Murathan Mungan draws on the Kurdish oral tradition. Alber Sabanoglu surveys recent writing about the history of Kurds in Turkey. Prominent poet Abdulla Pashew blends political and personal longing, then discusses the moral power of poetry with Ziad Rashad. Murat Özyaşar feels a shock of recognition. Kajal Ahmad delineates a politics of the body, Hama Jaza aches for freedom, and Jamal Khambar mourns the victims of honor killings.

The Beginnings of Ja’far-i-Magholi and Hasan Tofan
By Bakhtiyar Ali
If one day you become a murderer, don’t try to find out much about your victims.
Translated from Kurdish by Kareem Abdulrahman
from “The Lost Lands of Paradise”
By Yavuz Ekinci
Aram’s mutilated body on that tree had grown larger and larger in my mind.
Translated from Turkish by Kardelen Kala
By Murathan Mungan
You had no name when we met / we did not notice it wasn’t there
Translated from Turkish by Aron Aji & David Gramling
Breaking the Taboo: Turkish Writers Face the Kurdish Past
By Alber Sabanoglu
“We were forced by the state itself to take sides.”
By Abdulla Pashew
I will make my skin your flag.
Translated from Kurdish by Hemn Bakr & Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse
The Poetry of Truth: An Interview with Abdulla Pashew
By Ziad Rashad
With the process of democratization the role of poetry has been curtailed.
Translated from Kurdish by Dina Dara Omer Meran & Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse
Mirror Shock
By Murat Özyasar
If you look in the mirror too long it hits you.
Translated from Turkish by Hardy Griffin
Separation from Earth
By Kajal Ahmad
My hair / Became a belt around the Earth’s waist.
Translated from Kurdish by Darya Ali
If You See Fatima
By Jamal Khambar
Say, after her death, we lit our epic poems on fire.
Translated from Kurdish by Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse & Soran Azad
Sudden Sorrow
By Hama Jaza
Sorrow becomes my guest, in the square frame of my room
Translated from Kurdish by Hakar Dlshad