Kajal Ahmad

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).

Kajal 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.

The Fruit-Seller’s Philosophy 

My friend! You were like an apricot. 
At the first bite, 
I spat out the core and crux.

My old flame! Sometimes 
you’re a tangerine, undressing so spontaneously,

and sometimes you’re an apple, 
with or without the peel.

You’re like a fruit knife. 
There’s never a time when you’re not at our dinner table. 
But forgive me if I say — 
you’re a waste of time.

Dear homeland, you’re like a lemon. 
When you are named, the world’s mouth waters 
but I get all goosepimply.

You, stranger! 
I’m sure you’re a watermelon. 
I won’t know what you’re really like 
till I go through you like a knife.


Whenever he was in the mountains, 
wherever he took off his shoes, 
they would always point towards his city 
but he never thought that this might mean 
his homeland would be liberated. 
Now that he’s in his city, 
wherever he leaves his shoes, 
they point towards lands beyond his 
but he never dreams that the day 
might come when, without seeing 
the mirage that exile always sees, 
without any direction from his shoes, 
he will travel through the heart of his country, 
store myth in his grandmother’s wooden chest 
and, in the cellar of a happy house, 
close many colourful doors on it 
like the doors in his childhood stories.

Source: Poetry Translation Centre: http://www.poetrytranslation.org/poets/Kajal_Ahmad


According to the latest classification, Kurds
now belong to a species of bird
which is why, across the torn, yellowing pages
of history, they are nomads spotted by their caravans.
Yes, Kurds are birds! And even when
there's nowhere left, no refuge for their pain,
they turn to the illusion of travelling
between the warm and the cold climes
of their homeland. So naturally,
I don't think it strange that Kurds can fly.
They go from country to country
and still never realise their dreams of settling,
of forming a colony. They build no nests
and not even on their final landing
do they visit Mewlana to enquire of his health,
or bow down to the dust in the gentle wind, like Nali.*

* Refers to a famous line from Nali, 17th century poet:
I sacrifice myself to your dust - you gentle wind!
Messenger familiar with all of Sharazoor!

The literal translation of this poem was made by Choman Hardi

The final translated version of the poem is by Mimi Khalvati

Source: Poetry Translation: http://www.poetrytranslation.org/poems/100/Birds