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.
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
The day will come
When all the lamps in this world
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
We were millions
we were old trees
newly growing plants
From the helmet of Ankara
they came at dawn
they uprooted us
they took us 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.
with whom I dallied last year
I will ask for their hands this year,
said the lake.
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.
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