Directions by Kajal Ahmad

Featuring: Kajal Ahmad, Choman Hardi, Mimi Khalvati

My first reaction on receiving Choman Hardi's literal translations of Kajal Ahmed's poems was how good they were, and how little I would seemingly have to do! I think it helped enormously that Choman is such a good poet herself and, in these first versions, had already caught much of the rhythm and tone of Kajal's work. The sweetness and simplicity of the voice, the political and personal passion, the directness and immediacy of the address, were qualities that struck me most, and which I decided were the most important to preserve. I also liked Kajal's sense of humour and the fable-like quality of the poems, evoking so clearly her cultural heritage. In my translations, I also wanted to preserve some sense of the Kurdish language, while helping the poems to sit naturally in English. In considering the strengths and weaknesses of my own voice, I thought that the biggest danger for me might be in losing some of the simplicity that Choman had achieved so gracefully and, to this end, decided to stick as closely as possible to these first versions.

From Translating Kajal Ahmad by Mimi Khalvati