A celebration of women’s poetry for International Women’s Day 2017

Featured image from “The Infinite Body Of Sensation” by Salma Caller

 

salmacallerSalma Ahmad Caller is an artist and a hybrid of cultures and faiths. She is drawn to hybrid and ornamental forms, and to how the body expresses itself in the mind to create an embodied ‘image’. UK based, she was born in Iraq to an Egyptian father and a British mother and grew up in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. With a background in art history and theory, medicine and pharmacology, and several years teaching cross-cultural ways of seeing via non-Western artefacts at Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, she now works as an independent artist and teacher.

salma caller artists statement [PDF]

“In the Glass Coffin” by Kim Myeong-sun

Today, I withstood agony again,
Because my life is still lingering,
Trapped in scarcely visible sorrow.
If my body is trapped
Like the life of a dinky, dinky thing,
What is with all this sorrow, this pain?
Like the bygone prince,
Who had loved the forbidden woman,
I believed I would live if I danced in the glass coffin;
I heard I would live with joy
Even in this dim sorrow,
If I worked, studied, and loved.
And so I have lived in this untrustworthy world.
Now, what shall I do with this suffocating feeling
That is burgeoning in this scarcely visible sorrow?
Stupid I! Stupid I!

In The Glass Coffin by © Kim Myeong-sun, these translations are © Sean Jido Ahn

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2016102000105_0Kim Myeong-sun was born in 1896 in Pyongyang, Korea. She debuted in 1917 when her short story A Girl in Doubt appeared in Youth [Chungchun]. In 1919, while she was studying abroad in Tokyo, she joined Korea’s first literary circle Creation [Changjo], which is reputed as the harbinger of modern Korean literary style. She published her first book of poems The Fruit of Life in 1925, which is also the first book of poems published by a Korean woman. Kim was known as quinti-lingual, and she introduced works of Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Baudelaire to Korean readers for the first time.

Along with a literary movement, Kim was also a central figure in feminism movement of her time. She argued that the world would achieve peace rather than war if women could play a major role in sociopolitics. Moreover, she openly supported free love, and her practice of free love subjected Kim to severe criticism. The fact she was a date rape victim and a daughter of a courtesan hardened the criticism, even among the writers who were close to her. After she fled to Tokyo in 1939, her mental health exacerbated due to extreme financial hardship, failed relationship, and ongoing criticism, and Kim spent rest of her life in Aoyama psychiatric hospital in Tokyo. While her year of death is known to be 1951, this date is not officially verified.

A note about the translator

Sean Jido Ahn is a literature student and a translator residing in Massachusetts, USA. His main focus is Korean to English translation, and he has translated a documentary, interviews, journal articles, and literary pieces. Currently, he runs a poetry translation blog AhnTranslation and plans to publish the first edition of a literary translation quarterly for Korean literature in fall 2017.

“Closet” by Lisa Lowther

Ivory Solid Wooden door –
Unbreakable
Shining gold handle
Protected by two
One on either side
Admittance – Speaks quietly
The other will decide
As you attempt to open
Not just anyone is welcome

White Backless gowns
On shining skin
Chiffon, Encrusted diamonds
Heels that can match any
Elegant Masquerade masks
Green eyes of foreign waters
Pearls, bright & round as the moon
Reflected
To only the celebrant

By Invitation – The other
Vintage lace
Some roses too
For Your entrance
Not an exit of mine, this time
Do close the door on leaving
The two shall rest awhile
A little like my own

Even I did not feel invited into this poem

Closet is © Lisa Lowther
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Lisa Lowther lives in Cork City. She is a mother to one daughter. She has written poetry intermittently and increasingly over the years, previously not submitting any of her work. She has a passion for reciting poetry as well as reading. She holds a Business qualification & has previously worked in the University College of Cork for a number of years as well as other companies within the Business sector. She subsequently trained in sexual health and was involved in the promoting of sex education on various topics including sexuality awareness. This is Lisa’s first published work. She is presently dedicating time to her love of writing poetry and she is working on her first collection.

I. Am. Straight. Are You ? & other poems by Lisa Lowther

“Faoi Ghlas” by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Faoi Ghlas 

Tá sí faoi ghlas ann          fós, sa teach          tréigthe, 
cé go bhfuil          aigéin idir í          agus an teach 
	a d’fhág sí          ina diaidh. 

I mbrat uaine          a cuid cniotála,          samhlaíonn sí 
	sraitheanna, ciseal glasa          péinte 
ag scamhadh ón mballa          sa teach inar chaith sí — 

	— inar chas sí          eochair, blianta
ó shin,          an teach atá          fós ag fanacht uirthi, 
	ag amharc          amach thar an bhfarraige mhór. 

Tá an eochair ar shlabhra          aici, crochta óna muineál 
	agus filleann sí          ann, scaití,          nuair 
a mhothaíonn sí          cloíte.          Lámh léi 

ar eochair an tslabhra, dúnann sí         a súile agus samhlaíonn 
	sí an teach úd          cois cladaigh, an dath céanna 
lena cuid olla cniotála, na ballaí          gorm-ghlas, 

teach          tógtha ón uisce,          teach tógtha       as uisce 
	agus an radharc          ann: 
citeal ag crónán,          gal scaipthe,          scaoilte 

ó fhuinneog an pharlúis, na toir          i mbladhm, 
	tinte ag scaipeadh          ar an aiteann 
agus éan ceoil a máthair ag portaireacht          ina chliabhán, 

ach cuireann na smaointe sin ceangal          ar a cliabhrach 
	agus filleann sí arís          ar a seomra néata, ar lá néata 
eile           sa teach 

altranais,          teanga na mbanaltraí dearmadta          aici, 
	seachas please agus please agus please, 
tá sí cinnte de          nach          dtuigeann siad          cumha

	ná tonnta ná glas. Timpeall a muiníl, 
ualach          an eochair          do doras a shamhlaíonn         sí 
faoi ghlas fós, ach          ní aontaíonn an eochair          sin 

leis an nglas níos mó     tá an chomhla dá hinsí     i ngan fhios di 
	an tinteán líonta          le brosna          préacháin 
fós, fáisceann sí an chniotáil          chuig a croí 

ansin baineann sí dá dealgáin          í, á roiseadh go mall arís, 
arís, na línte scaoilte          ina ceann          agus ina gceann 
	snáth roiste:          gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas

gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas          amhail cuilithíní 
	cois cladaigh      nó roiseanna farraige móire.     Sracann sí 
go dtí go bhfuil sí          féin          faoi 

ghlas         le snáth         á chlúdach         ó mhuineál go hucht. 
	Ansin,      ceanglaíonn sí      snaidhm úr, snaidhm      docht, 
ardaíonn sí na dealgáin          agus tosaíonn sí          arís.


                              ∇

	Under Lock and Green

She is locked there 	still, in the empty 	house, 	
despite 	   	 the ocean between her	and this house, 
	the one	she left 		behind her.

In the green sweep 	of her knitting	 she imagines
	layers, green layers			of paint
a wall peeling 		in the house where she spent –

– where she turned 		a key, years
	ago, before, 	the house that is 	still waiting for her
gazing 			over a vast ocean.

She wears the key on a chain 	that hangs at her throat
	and she returns 		there, sometimes, 	when 
she feels 	weak.		With one hand

over that chained key, she closes 	her eyes and daydreams
	that house 	by the beach, the same colour
as her wool, the walls 		blue-green, 

a house		from water, a house 	of water
	and the view 	there:
a fretting kettle, 	its steam loose, 		leaving

through the parlour window, where the furze is 		aflame,
	fires swelling 		through the gorse,
and her mother’s songbird chirping 		in its cage,

but thoughts like these bind 	her chest too tightly
so she lets go, and returns  	to this neat little room, this neat little day
another		in this home

this home for the elderly	where she forgot the nurses’ words years ago
	except please 	and please 		and please, and she’s certain
that they		understand neither cumha 		

	nor tonnta 	nor the glas		at her throat,
the weight of a key	   for a door 	she imagines	
	still locked, but 		the key won’t slot 

into her remembered lock the door has fallen from its hinges in her absence 
	the hearth fills			with the kindling of crows
still, she nestles her knitting 	in near her heart

then lifts it from the needles, 		unravels it slowly again,
again, the lines released		one		by one
	unravelled, the thread:		blue-green blue-green blue-green 

blue-green blue-green blue-green 		like little ripples 
	scribbling on the shore 		or immense ripping oceans. She tears
until 		she is		under

lock and green again, 	with wool 	covering her	neck and chest.
	Then, 	a breath, and then,		she ties	a new knot,
lifts the needles 			and begins 		again.
doireann-bwDoireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual writer working both in Irish and English. Among her awards are the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Michael Hartnett Prize, and the Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary. She frequently participates in cross-disciplinary collaborations, fusing poetry with film, dance, music, and visual art. Doireann’s writing has appeared widely, including in The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner, The Stinging Fly, and Poetry, and has been translated into many languages, most recently to French, Greek, Dutch, Macedonian, Gujarati, and English. Recent or forthcoming commissions include work for The Poetry Society (UK), RTÉ Radio 1, Cork City Council & Libraries, The Arts Council/Crash Ensemble, and UCC. Her most recent book is Oighear (Coiscéim, 2017)

faoi-ghlas-le-doireann-ni-ghriofa-1

“Rajm” by Müesser Yeniay

Rajm

Outside is night
inside is separation

this must be the last day
of the world 
          -I think of him-

love ends (…)

the heart 
remains as a woman who was stoned to death
in the middle of reality

my heart is the biggest
stone that God threw 
at me

© Müesser Yeniay, translated into english by Müesser Yeniay

muesserMÜESSER YENİAY was born in İzmir, 1984; she graduated from Ege University, with a degree in English Language and Literature. She took her M.A on Turkish Literature at Bilkent University. She has won several prizes in Turkey including Yunus Emre (2006), Homeros Attila İlhan (2007), Ali Riza Ertan (2009), Enver Gökçe (2013) poetry prizes. She was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Muse Pie Press in USA. Her first book Darkness Also Falls Ground was published in 2009 and her second book I Founded My Home in the Mountains a collection of translation from world poetry. Her second poetry book I Drew the Sky Again was published in 2011. She has translated the poems of Persian poet Behruz Kia as Requiem to Tulips. She has translated the Selected Poems of Gerard Augustin together with Eray Canberk, Başak Aydınalp, Metin Cengiz (2011). She has also translated the Personal Anthology of Michel Cassir together with Eray Canberk and Metin Cengiz (2011). Lately, she has published a Contemporary Spanish Anthology with Metin Cengiz and Jaime B. Rosa. She also translated the poetry of Israeli poet Ronny Someck (2014) and Hungarian poet Attila F. Balazs (2015). She has published a book on modern Turkish Avant-garde poetry The Other Consciousness: Surrealism and The Second New (2013). Her latest poetry book Before Me There Were Deserts was published in 2014 in İstanbul. Her poems were published in Hungarian by AB-Art Press by the name A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa (2015).
Her poems have appeared in the following magazines abroad: Actualitatea Literară (Romania), The Voices Project, The Bakery, Sentinel Poetry, Yellow Medicine Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poesy, Shampoo, Los Angeles Review of Books, Apalachee Review (USA & England); Kritya, Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Casa Della Poesia, Libere Luci, I poeti di Europe in Versi e il lago di Como (Italy); Poeticanet, Poiein (Greece); Revue Ayna, Souffle, L’oiseau de feu du Garlaban (France); Al Doha (Qatar); Poethead (Ireland)Tema (Croatia); Dargah (Persia).
The Anthologies her poetry appeared: With Our Eyes Wide Open; Aspiring to Inspire, 2014 Women Writers Anthology; 2014 Poetry Anthology- Words of Fire and Ice (USA) Poesia Contemporanea de la Republica de Turquie (Spain); Voix Vives de Mediterranee en Mediterranee, Anthologie Sete 2013 ve Poetique Insurrection 2015 (France); One Yet Many- The Cadence of Diversity ve ayrıca Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Come Cerchi Sull’acqua (Italy).
Her poems have been translated into Vietnamese, Hungarian, Croatian, English, Persian, French, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Greek, Hindi, Spanish and Romanian. Her book in Hungarian was published in 2015 by AB-Art Publishing by the name A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa She has participated in the poetry festivals like Sarajevo International Poetry Festival, September 2010 (Bosnia-Herzegovina); Nisan International Poetry Festival, May 2011 (Israel); Belgrad International Poetry Festival, September 2012 (Serbia); Voix Vives International Poetry Festival (Sete), July 2013 (France); Kritya International Poetry Festival, September 2013 (India), Galati/Antares International Poetry Festival, June 2014 (Romania), Medellin International Poetry Festival, July 2014 (Colombia); 2nd Asia Pacific Poetry Festival 2015 (Vietnam).
Müesser is the editor of the literature magazine Şiirden (of Poetry). She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Turkish literature at Bilkent University, Ankara, and is also a member of PEN and the Writers Syndicate of Turkey. 

Three Poems by Müesser Yeniay
An Index of Women Poets

“We did not choose the sea” by Philo Ikonya

philo 6.1.2014

When we found them washed ashore
they were barely alive but still breathing
We spoke for the voiceless they
said, many times, and now speak to us
and for us and with us share this breath

We shuddered at life’s turns and twists
when the madding crowd kicked them hard
They slave them again, they do, their voices
deadly drilling the stones so alone intone

downloadPhilo Ikonya is a writer, lecturer and human rights activist. She is the President of PEN Kenya. She taught semiotics at Tangaza College and Spanish at the United States International University in Nairobi. She graduated in Literature and Linguistics (The University of Nairobi) before reading philosophy in Spain and Italy. She worked as an editor for Oxford University Press (Eastern Africa). Born in Kenya, Philo speaks Kiswahili, Gikuyu, English, Spanish and some Norsk. She has a grasp of Italian and French. Philo is a mother of one. She is currently living in exile in Norway.

Her fiction includes two novels, Leading the Night and Kenya, will you marry me? She has published three poetry anthologies including: This Bread of Peace, (Lapwing) Belfast, Ireland, and Out of Prison- Love Songs translated into German (Aus dem Gefangnis Liebesgesange). Philo is a Pan-Africanist.

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