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Where the Sun Goes Home: Poetry from Rojava

January 2020

This month we present three poets from the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES), commonly known internationally by its Kurdish name, Rojava. Cihan Hesen, Ciwan Nebî, and Ciwan Qado offer a humanizing glimpse into a region so quickly reduced in public forums to political analysis and partisan assertions. It is our hope that these translations showcase the vibrant literary culture that doesn’t reach Western headlines. 

Beyond the Headlines: Poetry from Rojava
By Shook
These poems display the health and vitality of a literature that has already proved to be a potent medium for self-expression, a grounds for linguistic experimentation, and an important declaration of autonomy itself.
A Note from the Editors: January 2020
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
A note from the editors on the occasion of our Rojava poetry feature.
[Only the madman has stayed behind in the city]
By Ciwan Nebî
What does he have to fear?
Translated from Kurdish (Kurmanji) by Shook & Zêdan Xelef
[I needed to wake up at 3:00 in the morning to make it to work]
By Ciwan Qado
I proceeded with caution / Like a marble inching toward the line
Translated from Kurdish (Kurmanji) by Shook & Zêdan Xelef
[I speak to]
By Cihan Hesen
silence sullen-faced fate reaches my ears
Translated from Kurdish (Kurmanji) by Shook & Zêdan Xelef