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.

 

Signature

Poems from ‘Signature’

 

thistle roll
 
thistle roll
twig sphere
scatters a
 
thicket clump
looks alive, its
red-tipped a
 
blown-feather
bag blown to
 
a bird-corpse let lie
its throat opened out
 
purple the thistle-roll
and hue,
purple the cry
 


tear
 
a field of ewes, their winter wool loose
blown down to the rusted gate.
 
a flower clock banks each moment to the birthing,
their mothering.
 
their rich milk a wellspring. spring now and
a breeze tickles the white cloud
 
their winter coat shed, wind still barbs her cries
they ignore her labouring
 

Thistle Roll and Tear are © C. Murray

Signature is published by Bone Orchard Press, and edited by Michael McAloran. It is my second chapbook, and it can be bought via LULU. If you are into freebies, and not supportive paying for your arts, a sample of my writing, a chapbook called Three Red Things is available here.

ssignatureignature is a beautifully wrought collection of short/ imagistic/ surrealistic-impressionistic poems…ISBN 9781291797046

Copyright Christine Murray

Edition First

Publisher Bone Orchard Press

Published 23 March 2014
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Crown Of Thorns by Bethany W Pope


Crown of Thorns by Bethany W. Pope

Oneiros Books 2013

Crown Of Thorns by Bethany W. Pope is published under the Oneiros Books imprint. This is not an easy book to read. Ultimately it is a tale of triumph against war, where  war is child sexual abuse, rejection, and alienation. Throughout Crown Of Thorns there is a sense of profound hope and strong unshakeable faith.

Bethany Pope uses an imagery and symbolism in Crown of Thorns that is bloody, battered, estranged, and sometimes terrifying. Corridors, umbilici, and torn flesh form the vast part of the imagery, with water and earth less spoken but always present. Crown Of Thorns is a testament of survival and endurance sited in a complex construction that requires some explanation.

Divisions in Crown Of Thorns

There are four major divisions in Crown Of Thorns, Crown of Thorns, House Of Masks, Rabbit Trap, and Bloodlines: An Emperor’s Crown. Within each division are series of poems excavating both familial and personal history. The series are broken into sonnet groups, some of which are acrostic.

The opening section of the book eponymously titled Crown Of Thorns comprises two separate threads (or cords) Joy and John. The section is 15 sonnets long, alternating between two groups of seven sonnets under each heading that become entwined in Sonnet #15. Crown Of Thorns forms the foundation of the book proper. The major themes of survival and abuse are herein introduced.

The themes of this opening section of the book are taken up throughout the other previously named divisions, House of Masks,  Rabbit Trap and Bloodlines. Pope maintains a careful balance in the foundational and introductory parts of her book. She explores and ultimately accepts the damage of war on the body, and its survival in the final part of the book Bloodlines: An Emperor’s Crown.

Pope has intricately embroidered her major themes throughout the fabric of the book. She will pick up and repeat phrases in different sonnets, most especially in  Bloodlines: An Emperor’s Crown, which is more assured and deftly handled than the earlier sections. Bloodlines is cumulative, thus the most difficult set of themes to render poetically.

The achievement of this book is for the writer, who has honed her craft to attain her mature poetic voice. This, she achieves through her use of structure, structural underpinning in the form of acrostic sonnets, and a developed use of symbolism that interweaves its way through each titled or numbered section. The use of  the symbolism of the umbilicus, the corridor, the tunnel, the eye , and water is very evident in the final section of the book through Crown 2: The Ancestors, Crown 3: Alchemy, and Blood Jewels. These named sections form the final part of the book, titled Bloodlines, An Emperor’s Crown.

Symbols In Crown of Thorns

Crown Of Thorns is set out as a Bildungsroman, or more properly a pilgrimage. The book is confessional, as it is a testament of victory over war. War is the torn body and soul of the victim of child abuse, war in the experience of neglect and poverty. The deepest victory is in Pope’s admittance to herself that the battle is never entirely won. It begins anew each day with the ‘Dream that bursts when eyelids open.’

Some of Pope’s material is traumatic to read and to think about. Her most intense victory therefore is in how she has achieved compression of her traumatic themes through her use of poetic form, and in how she has explored and set out those themes through sure use of symbol.

Soil, earth, water and the dark blood of birthing mingle their acids into an existence that is always questing for right and truth. The umbilicus, that dark binding cord of ancestry binds the victims of family through change of place and of time,

13.

‘The corridors run, binding us together
out of glistening blue and red wires.’

Crown 3: Alchemy (Bloodlines)

Bloodlines makes liberal use of the acrostic form spelling out a history, which I read as an SOS. Bethany is born, only purity is my tough refusal to, sell my poor soul, and so on. It is a morse-code of distress hammered into sonnets of sure structure and strong voice. I found myself trying to avoid the acrostics as much as possible to get to the meat of the work, although the acrostic sonnets form the tough outer skin of the poetry- the rind.

Joy: Thorns

Growing flesh around the darkened hole death springs from,
the bark hardens around the hollow in the bole,
the secret place you love for no known reason.
Dressed in a chiton, playing the role of nymphic
servant to unseen Pan, you slide into the loamy darkness,
your wood-rot scented hide. Adolescent haunches
squat in soft soil. You have a shepherd’s pie you bought
with two week’s allowance. Treated bamboo and garish
dyed bands, producing a sound your mind makes melodious.
The tree speaks with the borrowed breath of a wounded girl.
Saturday is for hiding, drawing strength from the earth.
Sundays still belong to grampy, his evil, elderly
entitlement; right of patriarchy to penetrate
beyond the heart of innocence, which grows no armor-bark.

by Bethany W Pope

Cup by C. Murray

Cup


nest rests
her cup

(heart, feather)

into wood
winds
capillary

In air (above)
sky is a heart caught
red, its amber spilling

nest stills
her dust
and moss

breathe out 

underground, wet roots stir
the sleeping house up

soften
     the softening rain

my veins answer tree

.

Cup is © C. Murray

.

New Trees,


there are three -
two crows dance 
steel-beaking the mounds round

New Trees is © C. Murray


Image is © Mick McAloran

Image is © Mick McAloran

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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