The sixth anniversary of the departure of the great poet Sherko Bekas

4/8/2019 18:33:00

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the departure of the great and famous Kurdish poet “Sherko Bekas”.


Sherko Bekas is a prominent contemporary Kurdish poet. He was born on 2 May 1940 in Suleimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan as a son of the large Kurdish poet Fayak Bekas. He joined the Kurdish liberation movement in 1965 and worked in the movement's radio station (the Voice of Kurdistan). He left his homeland because of political pressure from the Iraqi regime in 1986. From 1987 to 1992 he lived in exile in Sweden. In 1992 he returned to Iraqi Kurdistan.


Literary Works


Sherko Bekas takes a prominent role in the modern Kurdish literature. He introduced a new element into the Kurdish poetry, called Rûwange (vision), in 1971 which was a break from the strict traditional rules of poetry, such as Rhyme. The poems translated in "The Secret Diary of A Rose" are examples of this style. For the first time, he introduced the "poster poem" (a term originating from sculpture and painting) in 1975 into the Kurdish poetry. Most of these poems are short, as small or seemingly trivial objects are conveyed into great mysteries. Everything in these poems is alive. In the beginning, thoughts are often depicted vaguely, the poet rousing the reader's curiosity and fantasy. The poem culminates in a surprising and sometimes shocking climax, in which the mystery of the poem is solved. Literary critics in the Orient called the style of such poster poems As-sahil mumtana' , as "the simple unattainable".


Sherko's works are distinguished around the Globe and have been translated into Arabic, Swedish, Dutch, Italian, French and English. In 1987, he was awarded the "Tucholsky scholarship" of the Pen club in Stockholm and in the same year he was awarded the freedom prize of the city of Florence.


A two-volume collection of his poetry works has been published in Kurdish under the title "Sherko Bekas' Diwan" in Sweden. These two 1000-page volumes contain his poetic works in their entirety. He has read his poems in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, United Kingdom, Russia, and Italy, where he was named honorary citizen of Milan. He visited United States in 1990.


Poem by Sherko Bekas




The tide said to the fisherman:


There are many reasons


why my waves are in a rage.


The most important is


that I am for the freedom of the fish


and against


the net




The day will come 


When all the lamps in this world


will rebel


and refuse to light up anymore,


because ever since they have existed


their eyes have been shining


above the heads of thousands of statues


in this world, 


but not a single statue


has been erected 


for Edison.






We were millions


we were old trees


newly growing plants


and seeds. 


From the helmet of Ankara


they came at dawn


they uprooted us


they took us away


far away.


On the way the heads of


many old trees drooped


many new plants died in the cold


many seeds were trampled under foot


lost and forgotten


We grew thin like the summer river


we diminished like flocks of birds


towards the time of autumn


we diminished to mere thousands 


We had seeds


carried back by the wind


they reached the thirsty mountains again


they hid inside rock clefts


the first rain


the second rain


the third rain


they grew again


Now again we are a forest


we are millions


we are seeds 




and old trees


the old helmet died!


And now you the new helmet


why have you put the head of the spear


under your chin?


Can you finish us off? 


But I know


and you know


as lond as there is a seed


for the rain and the wind


this forest will never end? 



The meadow that remained arid 

despite last year's kisses of rain 

I will make green this year, 

said the cloud. 

With that beautiful flower 

that I did not thread in my hair last year 

I will adorn myself this year, 

said the garden. 

That beautiful tall tree 

with whom I did not dance last year 

I will ask to dance this year, 

said the breeze. 

The New Year's crown 

that I wore last year 

will look much smaller than this year's crown, 

said the mountain top. 

The brooks 

with whom I dallied last year 

I will ask for their hands this year, 

said the lake. 

The horizon 

in which I did not fly last year 

will be this year's destination of my journey, 

said the bird. 

The dark-eyed letters 

that I did not know last year 

I will slip over my hand as a bracelet this year, 

said the little girl. 

The whirlwind 

by which I was thrown back last year 

I will break through this year, 

said the horse. 

The candles on my twelve fingers 

radiate more hope this year 

than last year's did, 

said the candlestick on the table. 

The grain of wheat 

that I did not manage to store in my ant-hill 

I will take there this year, 

said the ant. 

The poem that is shy like a deer 

and that last year I could not tame 

or acquaint with my eyes 

I will tame this year 

and take into the bright attic of my poetry-book 

and let it sleep in my arms, 

said finally I. 


The Secret Diary of A Rose: A Kurdish Anthology of Poems; Translated by Shirwan Mirza, MD; University of Vermont; Burlington, VT 05405








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