Translated from the Kurdish by Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse and Haval Mustafa
Last night, my sleep was fitful
I crept outside
my mind throwing thunder
Lifting my head to the sky
I saw naked stars
clusters and clusters, thousands and thousands
Around the roosting swan
they were scattered like pomegranate seeds
I went back inside and mourned
for them, for those stars
with wounded wings and broken necks
who at the height of their brilliance
plummet from the heavens head first
Abdulla Pashew (b. 1946) is a true heir to the tradition of Kurdish poetry. He dedicates himself to the sounds of each poem, drives his reader across a range of subject matter. He completed his graduate work, a Masters in Pedagogy and a Doctorate in Philology, in Moscow and began his academic career as a professor in Tripoli. Fluent in Kurdish, Russian, and English, he is also a prolific translator. When he isn’t writing poems, he is bringing Whitman and Pushkin into Kurdish. He loves, as many poets do, that the act of translating enlarges the capacity for expression in his mother tongue. Arguably the most popular contemporary Kurdish poet, he draws audiences in the thousands when he reads publicly. Each of his eight collections of poetry has been so sought after that bootleg copies proliferate.
Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse served as the founding chair of the English Department at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, where she continues to teach literary translation and poetry writing. She received her MFA at Warren Wilson and a Masters in English Education from the University of Virginia. Her translations and nonfiction have appeared in Words Without Borders, The Fair Observer, and the recent anthology SoJust.