Friday Finds: Kurdish Literature

The July issue of World Literature Today features excerpts from their special section on Kurdish literature, including poetry by Sherko Bekas, Hero Kurda, and Abdulla Pashew, and Salim Barakat:

Hero Kurda — the pen name of Hero Husam ad-Din in Kirkuk — was born in 1989 and has published two books: I Burn in the Season of Flight (2008) and I Write Yusif (2013). Pashew is, according to WLT, “arguably the most popular Kurdish poet,” drawing audiences in the thousands to his readings. He’s published eight volumes of poetry and is also a translator.

Bekas (1940-2013) was son of the Kurdish poet Fayak Bekas and was one of the language’s most prominent 20th-century poets. In an interview with Medya magazine, translated by Aras Ahmed Mhamad, Bekas said of poetry:

From Plato’s time to today, there have been millions of definitions for poetry but none of them could give the exact picture of it. Imagination can’t be put into a frame. The nature of poetry is like the nature of gods; they have neither a beginning nor an end. Poetry is a continuous act of questioning and questions have no ending.

Bekas published his first collection at age 17 and followed it with more than 20 more. He died of cancer in Sweden in 2013.

Bakarat, who needs no introduction here, had an excerpt of his “Dylana and Diram” translated from the Arabic by Huda Fakhreddine and Jayson Iwen.

Fakhreddine writes in her introduction to the translation:

Salim Barakat’s language is intimidatingly dense and complex, flaunting a vast and daunting vocabulary. His texts possess an “organic” music and a formal orientation that are the products of an aggressive and intimate excavation of the Arabic language’s creative and thinking powers. Barakat’s work in poetry and in prose posits a distinct redefining of the poetic, rooted in a confrontation with the Arabic language and close examination of the meaning of its grammar and syntax.

It opens:

A mountain goat on a hill
and a stillness that raises its horns high as a mountain goat.
Don’t move a step closer, O guide!
Don’t move a step further.
Your place is the place from which roots eye roots
and the earth eyes its inheritance.

A mountain goat on a hill
and a stubborn stillness raising its horns high as the goat.

Keep reading.