Choman Hardi's "Gas Attack" Compared to Wilfred Owen's World War One Poem | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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Choman Hardi's "Gas Attack" Compared to Wilfred Owen's World War One Poem

Thursday, April 14, 2016 - 14:30

April 14, 2016 - British poet, translator and reviewer, Martyn Crucefix, recently compared two gas attack poems by British war poet Wilfred Owen (1893 - 1918) and Kurdish poet and author, Choman Hardi.

Hardi, chair of the English Department and founding director of the Center for Gender and Development Studies at AUIS, recently published her second volume of poems, “Considering the Women” in November 2015. The book’s central sequence, Anfal, draws on Hardi’s post-doctoral research on women survivors of genocide in Kurdistan. The poem, “Gas Attack” in the article comes from this collection.

Anfal was a series of military operations which targeted Kurdistan's countryside in 1988. Between February and September 1988 over 2000 villages were razed to the ground, 100,000 civilians ended up in mass graves, and 281 locations were attacked with poison gas. The gas attacks were used at the beginning of every stage of the Anfal genocide to kill and terrorize civilians. April 14, 2016 is the 28th anniversary of the Anfal genocide.

Crucefix has compared Hardi’s poem to Owen’s, “Dulce et Decorum est”, on his experiences of warfare in World War One. “I’ve recently been reading Choman Hardi’s new collection and the link with Owen’s very well-known (well-studied) poem is obvious,” says Crucefix, “Owen’s title is a reference to Horace’s Odes (III, ii l. 13), the full phrase translating as “Sweet and fitting it is to die for one’s country”. It is this sort of ardent, patriotic jingoism that Owen looks to counter in the poem as it is the world’s blindness to real events in Kurdish-Iraq that Hardi wishes to correct.”

“Owen’s poem takes the reader into the trenches, to the post-traumatic world of nightmares, but also manages to encompass this declarative, even propagandist, point. Likewise, Hardi’s poem plunges us into the gas attack and its aftermath but never ventures into the same argumentative, passionate point-making. Her decision to allow the details of this poem to speak for itself is a brave one (of tone and manner) given the horrors of which it speaks and the author’s evident commitment to bringing them to notice,” concludes Crucefix.

Read the full review here: Two Gas Attack Poems - Owen Wilfred and Choman Hardi.