poetry | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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Poetry Reading with Marie Labrosse and AUIS Alumni

AUIS is hosting a poetry reading of a selection from Kajal Ahmed's "A Handful of Salt" with poet, translator, and former AUIS faculty member, Marie Labrosse, and AUIS alums Darya Ali and Mewan Nahro. There will be a musical performance by Tawar Orchestra and an art exhibition by Gasha Kamal, a student at the University of Sulaimani at the event.  Marie Labrosse translates classical and contemporary Kurdish poetry, hosts readings with regional poets, and introduced the annual translation workshop at AUIS. Read more about her translation of Kajal Ahmed's poems.  Born in Kirkuk in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1967, Kajal Ahmad began publishing her remarkable poetry at the age of 21. SHe has published four books:  Benderî Bermoda (1999), Wutekanî Wutin (1999),Qaweyek le gel ev da, (2001) and Awênem şikand , (2004). She has gained a considerable reputation for her brave, poignant and challenging work throughout the Kurdish-speaking world. Her poems have been translated into Arabic, Turkish, Norwegian and now, for the first time, into English. 

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

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.

Choman Hardi's Book Launch Begins Orange the World Campaign at AUIS

  November 25, 2015 - Distinguished poet and activist, and Chair of the English department at The American University of Iraqi, Sulaimani (AUIS), Dr. Choman Hardi, published her second collection of poems, Considering the Women, earlier this month. Her new book explores the ambiguous relationship between immigrants and their homeland, and the plight of women in a patriarchal society and as survivors of political violence. "The book’s central sequence, Anfal, draws on Hardi’s post-doctoral research on women survivors of genocide in Kurdistan. The stories of the survivors are framed by the radically shifting voice of the researcher, naive and matter-of-face at the start; grieved, abstracted and confused by the end...Choman Hardi's second collection in English ends with a new beginning found in new love and in taking time off from the journey of traumatic discovery to enjoy the small, ordinary things of life," as described in the excerpt on the book cover.   Earlier in November, Hardi was invited to a book tour in the UK by the publisher Bloodaxe, along with two American poets, Kim Addonizio and Tony Hoagland. She had the opportunity to read from her new collection at various events and venues throughout the tour. The book tour started with the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and lead to readings at King’s College, Newcastle University and her alma mater, Queen’s College Oxford. Hardi also attended the Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull and the Woodstock Poetry Festival as part of the tour. The book has also been given a recommendation by the Poetry Book Society (PBS), UK as one of the PBS selections for Winter 2015.  Hardi formally launched her book in Kurdistan at an event hosted at AUIS on November 25, 2015. The launch was attended in great numbers by members of the local community as well as students, staff and faculty members at AUIS. The book launch coincided with the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, and marked the first day of the campaign on campus to raise awareness of gender violence, in support of the global “Orange the World” campaign. AUIS Interim President, Dr. Esther Mulnix, welcomed the guests to the launch before a trio of musicians from Sulaimani - Arayan Jalal, Rasty Jmal Kurdi and Zana Aziz - gave a melodious performance on guitar, saz and cello. Afterwards, AUIS students, Shatoo Diyar Bakir and Zhiwar Jawhar, spoke briefly on the issue of gender violence and the students’ efforts to raise awareness on campus. “This year AUIS will go orange. Next year, we will make Kurdistan orange,” they said to an applause by the audience. Dr. Hardi recited a few poems from her new collection, including ‘Dib’s Camp, the Women’s Prison’, which was recently selected as The Guardian’s Poem of the Week. She also read a few poems from her first book, Life for Us. Noted Irish poet and academic, Bernard O'Donoghue, in praise of Choman Hardi's first collection of poetry had said: "I have rarely read a book which so indisputably establishes the capacity of poetry to express the historical and political... poetry makes something happen here; the book answers the poem's question "Could you show me where that is on the map?" more memorably than any map or political analysis." At the end, Dr. Hardi presented copies of her new book to the Sulaimani Public Library and Zheen Archive. After the readings, guests were invited by the students to hand-paint and write messages against gender violence on a piece of fabric. The painted orange piece will be displayed on campus throughout the internationally marked 16 days of activism to end violence against women. Shiereen Saib, project manager at the AUIS Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS), served as master of the ceremony. We would like to thank the sponsors of the book launch, Chalak’s Place, who provided refreshments and snacks for the guests attending the event.    Related Links: More about Choman Hardi, the author Choman Hardi reads a poem, A day for love, from her new collection in this video  Hardi’s reading in King's College during the book tour Guardian’s Poem of the week: Dibs Camp, the Women’s Prison by Choman Hardi Two gas attack poems: Wilfred Owen and Choman Hardi Choman Hardi’s books on Amazon Read press articles about the book launch AUIS Goes Orange!

Book Launch - Considering the Women by Choman Hardi

AUIS English literature Professor Choman Hardi has recently published her second collection of poems Considering the Women that explores the equivocal relationship between immigrants and their homeland, as well as the breakdown of an intermarriage, and the plight of women in an aggressive patriarchal society and as survivors of political violence. The book’s central sequence, Anfal, draws on Choman Hardi’s post-doctoral research on women survivors of genocide in Kurdistan. The stories of eleven survivors (nine women, an elderly man and a boy child) are framed by the radically shifting voice of the researcher: naïve and matter-of-fact at the start; grieved, abstracted and confused by the end. Recently, one of the poems from the new collection, 'Dibs Camp, the Woman's Prison' was selected as the Guardian's Poem of the Week. Read it here. Dr. Hardi is currently on a book launch tour in the UK where she will be attending a poetry festival and several other events.   

Jamal Xembar Poetry Reading

Famous Kurdish poet Jamal Xembar read some of his poetry during the opening events of The Art of Social Justice Festival on Friday. Translations of his work were ready by Marie Labrosse, Chair of the English Department. Click below to see photos of the event on our Facebook page.

A Poetry Workshop in Istanbul

Literature students from AUIS and Koç University, Istanbul, came together for some creative writing at a poetry workshop earlier this month. The workshop came at the end of a joint poetry course taught by Professor Marie LaBrosse.   “The workshop was held in Turkey to help foster international partnerships and connections between our students and faculty,” said LaBrosse, professor and former chair of the English department at AUIS. Around 20 students from both AUIS and Koç University attended the workshop in Istanbul. The forum was mainly instructed by LaBrosse, with assistance from fellow professor from the English department, Loren Higbee, and three Turkish faculty members. The course was offered to selected students, who had earlier applied for a slot in the poetry course. “The students were selected for the course based on their commitment to, experience with, and talent in writing poetry.” said LaBrosse. Sara Jabbar, an English student and participant of the course from AUIS, found it exciting and challenging. “This was no doubt the best course I've taken during the two years I've been here. I would definitely enroll in other classes similar to this.” Talking about the joint workshop, she said, “The unexpected trip to Turkey was a bonus. I had heard great things about Koç University, and it was interesting to be part of this new collaboration.” She felt that working in groups during the workshop was a real ice-breaker between the students from the two universities as it “gave way to introductions and new friendships.” English literature major, Lana Jabbar, has always been interested in writing poetry and thinks that the intensive course really helped her. “This was the first time I took a poetry-writing course and it made me feel a lot more capable,” she said, “On the second day (of the workshop) we actually got to work with the Turkish students by translating each others’ works into our own languages. It was nice to interact with them, and the Turkish professors too were very welcoming.” One of the Turkish faculty members, Nazmi Ağıl, believes in the benefits of bringing students from different cultures together and exposing them to new ideas. “It was nice to see how willingly students cooperated and how soon they made friends. If one purpose of the gathering was to create this friendly atmosphere I believe it was achieved.” he said. Professor Higbee thinks the joint workshop was a wonderful experience for the students and the faculty members. "The weather wasn't great, but everything else about the workshop was wonderful. The students put a lot of effort and thought into their work and showed an impressive amount of energy. Koç University has a beautiful campus, and their faculty members were extremely courteous and engaged,” he said. “I was also impressed by their students, who interacted actively and enthusiastically with our students on both an intellectual and social level. Most importantly, Professor LaBrosse helped the workshop participants develop their interpretative and feedback skills and create some very good poetry." Although it was a one-time event, LaBrosse feels that it could be used as a model for other low-residency teaching options in the future. “The amount of focus, creativity and growth that I have seen occur through our correspondence and through the workshop has been incredible. These students are learning to forge art from their personal and shared experiences. They are finding language for the most elusive ideas.” she said. “In Turkey, among peers, they were intelligent and respectful leaders of the conversation. The grounding they have received from the English Department in foundational texts, theoretical approaches, critical thinking, literary translation, and creative writing has positioned them well to be part of a global academic environment.”


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