Poetry by Shakila Azizzada

With thanks to Sarah Maguire director of The Poetry Translation Centre for facilitating my selection of poems by Shakila Azizzada.
 
The poems were translated by Mimi Khalvati and Zuzanna Olszewska for the Poetry Translation Centre

Once Upon A Time

 
in memory of Leila Sarahat Roshani
 
Granny used to say
always keep your magic sack
tucked inside your ribcage.
 
Don’t say the sun’s worn out,
don’t say it’s gone astray.
Say, I’m coming back.
 
May the White Demon
protect and watch over you.
Oh, daughter of the dawn,
 
perhaps this sorry tale,
stuck in the mud,
was of your doing.
 
Take the comb from the sack,
throw it in the Black Demon’s path:
seven jungles will grow at his feet.
 
Don’t say heaven’s too far,
earth’s too hard. Don’t throw the mirror
if you fear the sea and her nymphs.
 
Don’t say there was, don’t say there wasn’t,
trust in the god of fairytales.
May Granny’s soul rest in peace.
 
Give the mirror to Golnar’s mother
who, down by the charred vineyards,
dreams of birds and fish.
 
Don’t say the rooftop’s sun’s too brief.
Say, I’m coming and this time,
forget love’s foolish griefs.
 
Shake out the sack.
In the name of the White Demon,
burn that strand of hair.
 
Wasn’t there,
once upon a time …?
Once upon a time there was
 
a girl in whose long, endless dreams,
an old woman with white braids,
forever telling beads, would pray:
 
‘May the Shomali Plain still fill with song
and through the ceilings
of its ruined homes, let light pour in.’
 
Once Upon A Time is © Shakila Azizzada.

The literal translation of this poem was made by Zuzanna Olszewska.The final translated version of the poem is by Mimi Khalvati

Once Upon A Time: this poem refers to a fairytale in which the hero sets off to fight the Black Demon, aided by the White Demon and the magic powers of a sack with a mirror, a comb and a strand of hair. Fairytales traditionally start with the refrain, ‘There was one, there wasn’t one, apart from God, there was no one.’

View from Afar

 
I’m left again with no one standing behind me,
ground pulled from under my feet.
Even the sun’s shoulders are beyond my reach.
 
My navel chord was tied
to the apron strings of custom,
my hair first cut over a basin of edicts.
In my ear, a prayer was whispered:
‘May the earth behind and beneath you
be forever empty’.
 
However, just a little higher,
there’ll always be a land
purer than any land Satan could wish on me.
 
With the sun’s hand on my shoulder,
I tear my feet away, a thousand and one times,
from the things I leave behind me.
 

View From Afar is © Shakila Azizzada
Translated by Zuzanna Olszewska and Mimi Khalvati.
 

Haft Seen

 
If it weren’t for the clouds,
I could
pick the stars
one by one
from this brief sky,
hang them
in your ever ruffled hair
and hear
you saying:
 
‘I’m like a silk rug -
the older it gets,
the lovelier it grows,
even if
two or three naughty kids
did pee on it.’
 
Am I finally here?
 
Then let me spread
the Haft Seen tablecloth
in the middle of Dam Platz.
 
Even if it rains,
The Unknown Soldier
and a flock of pigeons
will be my guests.
 
Haft Seen is © Shakila Azizzada.
The literal translation of this poem was made by Zuzanna Olszewska.
The final translated version of the poem is by Mimi Khalvati.


from The Poetry Translation Centre

.

shakilaShakila Azizzada is a poet from Afghanistan who writes in Dari.

Shakila Azizzada was born in Kabul in Afghanistan in 1964. During her middle school and university years in Kabul, she started writing stories and poems, many of which were published in magazines. Her poems are unusual in their frankness and delicacy, particularly in the way she approaches intimacy and female desire, subjects which are rarely adressed by women poets writing in Dari.

After studying Law at Kabul University, Shakila read Oriental Languages and Cultures at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, where she now lives. She regularly publishes tales, short stories, plays and poems. Her first collection of poems, Herinnering aan niets (Memories About Nothing), was published in Dutch and Dari and her second collection will be published in 2012. Several of her plays have been both published and performed, including De geur van verlangen (The Scent of Desire). She frequently performs her poems at well-established forums in The Netherlands and abroad.

 

The Geometry of Love Between the Elements by Fióna Bolger

Caught in the Cross Hairs

 
I bury my face in the thickness of your hair
the darkness, the softness, the smell
raw brain sweat, your innermost thoughts
desire become scent
 
beneath the softness
the hard skull skin
a barrier you need
and I want to penetrate
 
to enter see the wiring
observe my image
upside down in the back of your head
then turn and peer through your eyes
 
I’d see the world as you
 

You’ve stolen my tongue

 
I thought I had the power
in dreams I knelt at the chopping board
an awkward sacrificial lamb
I brought the cleaver down
silencing my babble
 
but you held the knife
and while I slept you forced
my lips apart and cut
at the roots
ever the skilled operator
you stitched me up
needling the thread
to connect the severed ends
 
I can still make sounds
some almost words
they think they understand
but my tongue is in your hands
 

'Blue' by Vani Vemparala

‘Blue’ by Vani Vemparala

From The Geometry of Love Between the Elements by Fióna Bolger. A Grimoire published by Poetry Bus Magazine.

cure for a sharp shock

 
it’s that moment
when you trust
let go the balloon
your hope floats
up into the air
it’s beautiful and red
 
it bursts
empty rubber pieces
a shade darker
float to earth
 
I read somewhere
if you take these shreds
put them between broken
pieces of pottery
and blow
they’ll sound beautiful
 
I’m not sure
I read it
somewhere
 

cure poem for the lovelorn

 
a woman sits alone
her eyes are on the swan feathers
dropped by the moon upon the sea
 
she sees no-one on the horizon
but who can walk on water
dance on down
 
by day she weaves her stinging sadness
into nettle shirts, by night she waits
for her lover – the one who needs
 
to wear those painful clothes
to be fully human again
no longer trapped
 
on a cold moon
dropping feathers
on the sea
 
Cure Poems are © Fióna Bolger

bolger

Fiona Bolger’s work has appeared in Headspace, Southword, The Brown Critique, Can Can, Boyne Berries, Poetry Bus, The Chattahoochee Review, Bare Hands Poetry Anthology and others. Her poems first appeared in print on placards tied to lamp posts (UpStart 2011 General Election Campaign). They’ve also been on coffee cups (The Ash Sessions). Her grimoire, The Geometry of Love between the Elements, was published by Poetry Bus Press. She is of Dublin and Chennai and is a member of Dublin Writers’ Forum and Airfield Writers.

 

From Poetry Bus  A Grimoire is a book of magic and what is more magical than poetry? So instead of producing a series of chapbooks we’ve opted to create something a bit more special. Our first poet is Fíona Bolger and her Grimoire is called ‘The Geometry of Love between the Elements’
 
A beautiful book of poems illustrated by Vani Vemparala and featuring translations into Irish, Polish and Tamil by Antain Mac Lochlainn, Aleksandra Kubiak and R.Vatsala respectively.

Poems by Mary Noonan

The Card

 
What goes by the name of love is banishment,
with now and then a postcard from the homeland.
– Samuel Beckett, First Love

 
I’m looking for a card,
one that holds the oriole
on the black pear tree –
will it be brazen or sweet,
junebug or whippoorwill,
Tupelo or Baton Rouge?
I drape myself in maps,
drift in colours and signs,
sleep on my seven books
of owls, frogs, alligators.
 
I want a card that quickens
codes, spills the secrets
of words, sends letters flying.
We used to name things,
now we travel the lines
past ghost-shack and scrub,
sun-bothered lizards skittering
under creosote and cocotillo.
 
This card must distil the frenzy
of the firefly as it waltzes
with its own blazing corpse.
 
The Card is © Mary Noonan
.

Carry

 
To clear my head of talk, I walked the beach
and found a pebble, a cuckoo’s egg,
held it and saw it was a map.
 
An oval stone striated with slate-grey markings,
one side bore tracings that arced and criss-crossed:
polka of narrow roads,
 
sandpipers darting in bleached grasses,
contours of a shoreline, the lines on my palm.
A gate opening into a small field.
 
The curve of the stone offered concentric swirls,
a talisman you carry to ward off the evil eye,
or the nipple of a breast.
 
Here it is – an amulet, runes and traces
to light and guard you, a cuckoo’s egg
in the wrong nest, a gate opening
 
into a small field, a circle ploughed
round a lone hawthorn tree, a map
of the way between us. I carry it.

 
carry is © Mary Noonan
 

No Direction Home

i.m. Gregory O’Donoghue 1951-2005
 
I wrote that the final days of August would find me
washed up, propped in a place where the light of day
is tight and mean. You approved, gently tending –
even poems lamenting summer’s end were safe with you,
lines too concerned with the small ambit of seasons
to encompass the impact of a true ending.
 
And so it was that August swept you off your feet,
quenched your breath with ease as she dragged
hurricanes and swollen waters in her train.
In the middle of your fifty-fourth year –
one of the bald facts mourners swapped at the grave,
suddenly aware that they did not know you.
 
I knew only the grace of your yellowed fingers,
that elegant pen, your hand feathering its tender script
across a page, your hooded eyes, your mug of gin,
the small room where we met once a week.
I saw you sometimes, walking lopsidedly in the street;
once, at a launch, we talked about Bob Dylan
 
but in the moment I heard of your death I knew
that you had guided me to a place – a room, a page –
where limping and stammering come into their own,
a vast, airy space inviting me to stand my ground,
to bellow in tantrum, to rampage, to thrive
in my brokenness.
 

No Direction Home is © Mary Noonan

mnMary Noonan lives in Cork. Her poems have been published in The Dark Horse, The North, Poetry Review, Poetry London, The Threepenny Review, Cyphers, The Stinging Fly, Wasafiri and Best of Irish Poetry 2010. She won the Listowel Poetry Collection Prize in 2010. Her first collection – The Fado House (Dedalus Press, 2012) – was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for a First Collection (2013) and the Strong/Shine Award (2013).

Mary Noonan at Dedalus Press

 

‘Lament’ Recorded at the Smock Alley Theatre

I received this morning the sound files for a performance of Lament that occurred at the Smock Alley Theatre, as part of the 2012 Béal Festival. My thanks to Elizabeth Hilliard and David Bremner for programming the piece.

Friday Afternoon – part 3.wav

Containing:

Christine Murray: Lament (for three female voices) (performed by Dove Curpen, Réiltín Ní Charthaigh Dúill and Emilie Champenois; also with thanks to Rita Barror for organising and reading-through) (first performance)


Beal2012

Poems from In Between Angels and Animals, by Emily Cullen

EMBODIMENT

 
1.

Maternal

 
I lie on the bed in darkness,
wary of sudden toddler jerks
(your innocent, erratic strength).
Instead, you lay your head upon my cheek
and in that momentary tenderness,
a universe of visceral wisdom.
I am held by this intuition:
love
free of all condition.
 
2.

Marital

 
We grasp each other.
Words surrender
to spoor of pore.
You kiss my collarbone.
Sacred contours
underscore
quibbles and stresses.
Our limbs recall
a geography
of catharsis;
the lee of my back,
the lie of your land.
 
Embodiment is © Emily Cullen
 

GALWAY MOULD

 
We take the damp for granted here.
Blinds draw back to reveal
colonies of galaxies:
tiny black holes
in our new collective space.
 
‘It’s only condensation,’
Next Door concedes,
‘the weather’s too wintry
to open the windows.’
My wooden bangle by the sill
slips into a mildewed coat of green.
 
For fun, I bought you mouldy cheese.
Last night, it took revenge on me,
inducing a vivid dream
of a white chandelier of mould
that slowly lowered
through our kitchen ceiling:
a lichen lantern,
till its lattices became milky spores,
mouths that started to open and close.
 
Then I awoke, vowing to spray
our wall of condensation,
diffuse for good my fascination
with Galway mould.
 
Galway Mould is © Emily Cullen
 

INCENSE

 
Wisps of opium:
boa constrictors
curl into curtains
of late afternoon.
Milky ribbons tantalise
like the soft, deliberate motion
of the belly dancer you admired
in Turkish solitude.
I remember you burning sandalwood
in Illinois to set the mood.
Now smoky arabesques
tease then evanesce
while broken trails of ash,
like fossilized worms announce
seduction as but a crumbling dream:
brittle, grey, ephemeral.
 
Incense is © Emily Cullen

Incense’ was published in No Vague Utopia (Ainnir Publishing, 2003) ‘Galway Mould’, ‘Embodiment’ and ‘Playing House’ were published in Emily Cullen’s second collection, In Between Angels and Animals (Arlen House, 2013).

Author-pic-Emily-Cullen

Dr. Emily Cullen is an Irish writer, scholar, harpist and arts manager. Her first poetry collection, entitled No Vague Utopia was published by Ainnir in 2003. In 2004 she was the national Programme Director of the Patrick Kavanagh Centenary celebrations and was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions series. Emily was awarded an IRCHSS Government of Ireland fellowship for her doctoral study on the Irish harp. She is a qualified teacher of the harp who has performed throughout Europe, Australia and the United States. A former member of the Belfast Harp Orchestra, she has recorded on a number of albums and also as a solo artist. In addition to writing poetry, short stories and feature articles, she publishes widely on aspects of Irish cultural history and music.

Out now! Emily Cullen In Between Angels and Animals (Arlen House, 2013) 
ISBN: 9781851320790  Paperback 96 pp 12 EURO
Available from Kennys Bookshop, The Book Depository and many good book stores.
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