Translated from the Kurdish by Mewan Nahro, Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse, and the author
I host a dusky visitor
I do not dare picture her as my motherland
but she is as sweet
Her voice is the shelter of an arbor
and the meadow of her breast
smells of sweet clover
In the corner
an idea crouches
undoes its braids
and combs them, stroke after stroke
cutting through the haze of my depths
like Gathas’ beams
in the same moment?
The Gathas are 17 hymns that were composed by Zarathustra. They are sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion in the Kurdistan region.
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.