"> Kajal Ahmad


Awene The most admired Independent Kurdish Newspaper from the heart of Kurdistan.

Khatuzeen Center For Kurdish Women’s Issues

Kajal Ahmad  Born in Kirkuk in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1967,  Kajal Ahmad began publishing her remarkable poetry at the age  of 21, and she has gained a considerable reputation for her  brave, poignant and challenging poetry. Her work has been  translated into Arabic, Turkish, Norwegian and now, for the  first time, into English.

The Letter

On a simple sheet of paper, the moon sent these simple lines to the sun's house: ‘After all these years  of waiting for you, I feel too shy to ask: Why don't you marry me?' And the sun, by way of one of the stars, replied: ‘After all these years of hiding from you, I don't want to tell you: I don't dare.'

Birds According to the latest classification, Kurds  now belong to a species of bird which is why, across the torn, yellowing pages  of history, they are nomads spotted by their caravans.  Yes, Kurds are birds! And even when  there's nowhere left, no refuge for their pain,  they turn to the illusion of travelling  between the warm and the cold climes  of their homeland. So naturally, I don't think it strange that Kurds can fly.  They go from country to country  and still never realise their dreams of settling,  of forming a colony. They build no nests  and not even on their final landing  do they visit Mewlana to enquire of his health,  or bow down to the dust in the gentle wind, like Nali.*

Notes* Refers to a famous line from Nali, 17th century poet: I sacrifice myself to your dust - you gentle wind! Messenger familiar with all of Sharazoor!


It sparks lightning and broadcasts thunder. It cancels drought in the calendar’s leaves. It weeps for all the trees that stand and for all the stones that sit. It may give life but it drowns my will to live. I have tried on every legend like a cloak and rain is the one cloak that never fits.

Directions Whenever he was in the mountains,  wherever he took off his shoes,  they would always point towards his city  but he never thought that this might mean  his homeland would be liberated.  Now that he’s in his city,  wherever he leaves his shoes,  they point towards lands beyond his  but he never dreams that the day  might come when, without seeing  the mirage that exile always sees,  without any direction from his shoes,  he will travel through the heart of his country,  store myth in his grandmother’s wooden chest  and, in the cellar of a happy house,  close many colourful doors on it  like the doors in his childhood stories.

Watch the video: Mimi Khalvati and Mina Swara read ' The Lonely Earth'  by Kajal Ahmad

The Lonely Earth Neither do the white bodies of the universe say good morning to her nor do the handmade stars give her a kiss.

Earth, where so many roses, fine sentiments are buried, could die for want of a glance, a scent, This dusty ball is lonely,

so very lonely, as she sees the moon's patched clothing and knows that the sun's a big thief who burns with the many beams he has taken

for himself and who looks at the moon and the earth

like lodgers.

Listen to  The Fruit Seller's Philosophy  read by Choman Hardi in Kurdish

The Fruit Seller's Philosophy My friend! You were like an apricot. At the first bite, I spat out the core and crux.

* My old flame! Sometimes you're a tangerine, undressing so spontaneously,

and sometimes you're an apple, edible with or without the peel.

* Neighbour! You're like a fruit knife. There's never a time when you're not at our dinner table. But forgive me if I say - you're a waste of time.

* Dear homeland, you're like a lemon. When you are named, the world's mouth waters but I get all goosepimply.

* You, stranger! I'm sure you're a watermelon. I won't know what you're really like till I go through you like a knife.

Kinder than Miriam Marys of my country! When death becomes a necessity, let us mothers face it first and not our children.

Our nation is as lonely as Father Adam was before the fertile arrival of Mother Eve. Our nation is lonely and I am lonely. Boredom has grown like a fungus in my heart but I haven't wearied. My laughter was once like warm bread in the mouth, now it curls at the edges. Ah, poets, I have been like a pregnant woman but I haven't miscarried my poems nor has poetry miscarried me.

Jesus, when are you coming? I am standing on the Sirat*, about to fall from the bridge. I have cried so much in the house of love and poetry that the pool of my tears is covered in algae. With or without poetry, I'm waiting. Waiting to cross, waiting for you. Talking to no avail and who knows if it's all about me or the earth?

After a wave of nausea, You fell from the wound of my mouth. You were a sheet of light. After your birth words bled and never stopped. Blood made me a poet, the mad poet Miriam.

Before you were born, I came and built a bridge myself between the land of my heart and the sky of your skull. (The bleeding still goes on - will it be for ever?) At that time, the cross hadn't found you yet. It searched for you everywhere. Had I known it would be unkind, right there at your birth, I would have told you to return to the safe womb of your mother. Had I known they would call you the Son of God, I would never have let you come in the first place. How can God be the father of my son if I have never spent a single night in his embrace? And if I have, why call me the Virgin Mother?

* Tell me, light of my eyes! who do you think is the purer, me or Miriam? Who is more in love? Is the wound in my heart deeper than hers? It's not for me to say but you, light of my eyes, loving singer, Jesus, tell me! Don't call me Miriam or you'll hurt my pride and my heart will break. Surely, as a mother, I am kinder. Miriam and I differ in this: were I unable to purchase your life with my own. I'd rather go blind and keep my eyes eternally open. If I couldn't be crucified in your stead, how could I sit by, complacently in a corner? And in this, too, we differ: unlike her, I couldn't give you away, not to anyone, not even to God - my heart wouldn't let me. God is no mother whose heart burns with pity and who grieves over losing a child. Motherhood is a grave sorrow and I become a mother while I was still a virgin.

Since I gave birth to Christ and you doubt my virginity, raise your knives, I don't care. Jesus of sand ... Jesus, father ... What am I here for, if not to expose the world's lies? I won't wait for you to die. Just this once, my only child, instead of holding your grey and grieving guitar, embrace your mother's corpse. I'll die first, I'll make sure of that. I won't live to see the day that your death lies in my lap.

Notes*Sirat: the bridge mentioned in the Qur'an which must be crossed to reach heaven.

The original version of these poems are written in Kurdish. The literal translation of these poems were made by Choman Hardi. The final translated versions of the poems are by Mimi Khalvati.

Courtesy of  Poetry Translation Centre 

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