Butterfly Valley is Sherko Bekas' response to the 1988 atrocities by Saddam's Ba'athis régime on Iraqi Kurdistan. Stunned by the world's silence in the face of this genocide, Bekas - in exile in Sweden at the time - longs to go home and mourn the victims. He laments the repetitive cycles of continuous oppression and suppressed revolutions in Kurdish history, and in his despair speaks to other exiled Kurdish poets (Nali, Haji Qadir and Mawlawi among them) from the ninteenth century to the present day. This long poem unfolds in beautifully-drawn images of the poet's homeland - mountains and forests, rivers and villages, meadows and flowers - which are juxtaposed with scenes of death, destruction and suffering. This is an immensely powerful poem, at once lyrical and heart-rending, and Choman Hardi's fine translation at last gives the English-speaking reader the most extensive example yet of his outstanding writing.
Paperback: 64 pages
Published: Bloodaxe Books Ltd.
2 edition (30 Sept. 2004)
Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.5 x 2.6 cm
There is so much to admire here, including Bekas’s even-handedness in discussing Kurdish
politics, from the woman who had had enough of revolution,
‘What is left for you to come for? The sieve of our bodies?’ to the warring within
Kurdistani political movements, ‘the self-destructive flocks of wounds’.
His imagery – and Choman Hardi’s translation – is tremendous.
This is a sophisticated and intense expression of
grief in which Sherko Bekas, as is made clear on the back cover of this
astonishingly powerful and beautifully produced edition from Arc
Publications, uses a mixture of conflicting traditions, “folksong,
funeral lamentation, wedding ritual”. The poem mourns but also celebrates
the victims not only of Anfal and Halabja, but also those of
past centuries. Butterfly Valley, a long poem of human response to pain,
deserves a wide readership and if we ignore it we become thinner
by doing so.