Translated from the Kurdish by Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse and the author
are simple as roadside stones
are not astronauts, but earthbound children
What can I do, my heart?
Images and thin ideas
shimmer for a moment
and die like fireflies
in the black nights of gardens and orchards
I can only catch those
which tire and fall
like autumn leaves
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.