The Fruit-Seller’s Philosophy by Kajal Ahmad

Featuring: Mimi Khalvati, Choman Hardi, Kajal Ahmad

Some of Kajal Ahmad's metaphors translated literally seem either melodramatic or just wierd in English, eg. ‘the igniter of lightning', the radio of thunder', ‘the eraser of dryness's notebook', ‘the revitaliser of the world' (in ‘Rain'). In some cases, I tried to lighten such metaphors by using similes instead or, in the case of extended metaphors (and how lovely to come across them, so rarely used now in English poetry), to make sure that the logic of both tenor and vehicle was sustained throughout (as in ‘Birds'); à propos of this, I loved Choman's frustrated exclamation in the workshop: "Why is English so logical?"

Despite the many challenges, or because of them, I have really enjoyed this opportunity to work with Choman on Kajal's poetry, to engage with another language (so near to my mother tongue), and to broaden my horizons while trying to imagine what horizons might mean to a Kurdish poet, without a homeland to delineate them. The differences in our poetries is remarkable, but poetry speaks across them and it is so humbling to see the courage that poets such as Kajal display under such impossible circumstances; as Louise Glück says, women poets must have the courage not always to affirm life!

Extracted from 'Translating Kajal Ahmad' By Mimi Khalvati

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