Nazand Begikhani

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Nazand Begikhani

Nazand Begikhani is from Kurdistan (Iraq). She has been living in exile (Denmark, France and UK) since 1987. She took her first degree in English language and literature, then completed an MA and Ph.D in comparative literature at the Sorbonne University. 

She has published three poetry collections in Kurdish and Bells of Speech is her first anthology in English. Her collected poetry works is under publication by a leading publisher in Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Ranj (forthcoming Autumn 2007) 

UK poet of Pakistani origin, Moniza Alvi, wrote on Nazand Begikhani and her English collection Bells of Speech:

“With Bells of Speech Ambit’s fine new series introduces readers in Britain to a remarkable voice. Nazand Begikhani explores the experience of being an exiled Kurdish woman in visionary poems of rare political and spiritual depth. Like bells, they sound clear musical notes and linger in the mind long after they have first been heard. Fully cognisant of that “thin line between life and death”, they are poignant, but ultimately life-enhancing.” 

Nazand is a polyglot and translates her own poetry into French and English. Many of Nazand’s poems are published in French, Arabic, Persian and English. Her poems in English have been published in several well-known poetry magazines including Poetry Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, poetry Salzburg Review and Ambit. She is also a translator from French and English into Kurdish; she translated Baudelaire and T. S Eliot into Kurdish.  

Apart from writing poetry, Nazand is an active researcher and advocate for women’s human rights.  She is a founding member of the network organisation Kurdish Women Action against Honour Killing (KWAHK), which was incorporated later into a wider organisation, Kurdish Women’s Rights Watch (KWRW) 

Bells of Speech has been very well received in the UK. Following its publication Nazand was invited to participate and read her poems on the flagship Radio 4 programme, Start the Week, presented by Andrew Marr, which was broadcast on Christmas Day 2006. On May 14th 2007, MP Ann Clwyd hosted a reception of Bells of Speech at the House of Parliament where Nazand read her poems to a number of literary figures, MPs, media representatives and foreign diplomats. 

Also, one of the poems in the collection, Voice, has been selected by the British art critique, Sister Wendy Beckett, for an anthology of 40 inspiring poems in English, called “ Inspired Verse” by Wyndham Thomas (Corsham Print, Easter 2007). Wendy Beckett wrote in her introduction to the anthology: “Nazand devotes herself to seeking justice for Kurdish people and all who are persecuted. She believes happiness in our right, and sings of it with wistful certainty”

Hide and Seek in Bergalu

A fresh summer morning on the lower slopes of Bergalu village two children played hide and seek women planted trees in their garden

When a warplane roared in rushed us face-down to the land

After four heavy circles and a shower of shells a thick line of smoke billowed from the land

Eighteen years on on the lower slopes of a village an old woman can be seen circling around an empty hole chasing the shadow of two children playing hide and seek in Bergalu God is not dead for my mother

“Truth is an illusion” said Netsche 

For my mother who has never been to school truth is standing up calmly after a deluge planting a garden with hands of serenity speaking the language of trees and understanding the alphabet of rain

For my mother truth is to read the silence of my brothers’ faces as they lie in stone and to see in the blueness of the sky  a plum of light tracing a path  a divine path stretching deep  beyond the cloud and the stars

when you can trace the white wings of your dead children flying over the path of light in the azure of the sky you need God to survive you don’t need God to die At a happiness symposium in Wales

A psychologist said Graveyards may help you feel happier, visit a graveyard when you are depressed

There is a thin line between life and death, my friend and I am a graveyard

I am happy to be alive, my friend After Halabja and Anfal I am happy to become the voice  of a land that contains the mass graves of our brothers

There is a thin line between life and death, my friend There is a thin line between life and death Calm

Let’s lay down Close our eyes And listen to the music of the sun To the grass singing Let words have a rest And speech a little siesta Ghazu ?

To the widows of Anfal ??

Words started out from the sacred books  Meaning started out from the bright words Voice started out from the hidden meaning The voice of rage, voice of wretched conquest It blew Ahnfal Ah n f a l, Ah n f a l

A: is arson, the furious fire The crackling of the children’s souls scorching of mothers’ hearts the echo of the Fall of lives

H: is a howl A scream of a butterfly One hundred and eighty two thousand colourful butterflies in the storm of pain and the hurricane of death

N: is Nur, the Holy light A prophetic beam tiptoeing aggressively It folds into our days brings a desert Pouring sands of Ghazu  into the eyes of our springs

F: is a flame in a lantern A lantern of waiting glowing blue in the hand of a saintly woman a widow, of 16 years old on the steps of loneliness

A: is anticipation A hope of returning  towards the celebration of colour A gracious hope to illuminate huge in their lives to reclaim lost years and reconcile with life

L: our luminous vision blurred  wrapping us in mist leaving us lacerated on the edge of Holy Books.

Ahnfal Ahnfal A voice blew, the voice of wretched conquest Voice of desert storms and  tempest of Fall It blew a voice a voice of rage, a voice of wrath It blew Ahnfal.

My mother on the steps of waiting counting her prayer beads weaving the necklace of hope when the body of her son  fell into her arms

Ahnfal Ahnfal It blew a voice voice of wrath, voice of conquest Conquest of garden,  Conquest of colour Conquest of flight Howls pour from the silence of waiting no one dares say, “They are dead.” It has been 13 years that  my mother has carried the lantern of waiting on the step of loneliness  Weaving an encounter with her youngest son Lanterns of waiting in the hands of 50 thousand widows in the narrow lanes of hope The lanterns of waiting are glowing blue glowing blue  The lanterns of waiting. © 2006, Nazand Begikhani From: Bells of Speech Publisher: Ambit Books, London, 2006 ISBN: 978-0-900055-11- 

For more information on Nazand Begikhani and her poetry see the following links: content&task=view&id=126&Itemid=1 &smap=02010200 223&anr=17929 php?obj_id=9763&x=1

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

Khatuzeen Center For Kurdish Women’s Issues

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