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Choman Hardi

Choman Hardi / Kurdidtan
شومان هاردي / كردستان العراق


‘Qleeshayawa’, they would say, and start running.
The old, the young, men and women
‘Qleeshayawa’, they would say.

The young men joked about it between themselves
It’s our marathon, it keeps us healthy.

They ran indefinitely.
Sometimes with no expression on their faces,
other-times covered with the sweat of fear
running, looking back, running and looking back,
or with humor.

Sometimes it was triggered by a gunshot
or the sight of vicious soldiers
jumping out from their tank into a square.
Other-times, accidentally, if somebody ran, they all followed.

Sometimes they would be surrounded by tanks
with nowhere to run to -
and forced to stand like a flock of sheep,
witness the execution of a friend,
and to clap and shout:
Long live justice!

* Qleeshayawa means cracking open. It is used to refer to the land or pomegranates; in the 1980s this word was used to describe the situation below.


From one branch of the fig tree
stretching to the window
a string made the line for our clothes
the strings we once had for swinging in picnics
used to hurt my bottom
and my mother made a special cushion for the swing-
once we hung it from the gate on a summer afternoon
and the neighbours came to have a swing too

the strings we use to tie our lives together
the strings that stretch with us
the strings that hold us back
and the strings that strangle our dear brothers

Roj was given back to his parents in pieces
although his sentence was to be hanged

a blue string reminds me of travelling on a spring day
watering the thirsty grass
and loving the sky
we spoke in clear blue at those times
a string was still a harmless thing.

Choman Hardi / Kurdidtan ,Iraq
شومان هاردي / كردستان العراق

Choman Hardi was born in Southern Kurdistan [Iraq] just before her family fled to Iran. She returned to her hometown at the age of five and lived there until she was fourteen. When the Iraqi government used chemical weapons on the Kurds in 1988 her family fled to Iran again. She has lived in Iraq, Iran and Turkey before coming to England in 1993.
Choman studied philosophy and psychology at Queen\'s College, Oxford and has an MA in philosophy from University College London. Currently she is a PhD candidate at the University of Kent in Canterbury, researching about the mental health of Kurdish women refugees between the clash of cultures.
She has published two collections of poetry in Kurdish: \'Return with no memory\' [Denmark, 1996] and \'Light of the shadows\' [Sweden, 1998]. Bloodaxe will publish her first collection of poetry in English in 2004.
Choman was nominated for the Arts Foundation scholarship 2002 and has won the 2003 Jerwood-Arvon Young Poet’s Apprenticeship. She was commissioned by the South Bank and Apples and Snakes to take part in the ‘Poetry International Festival’ Festival 2002, the Royal Festival Hall.
She has facilitated creative writing workshops for the British Council [UK, Belgium, Czech Republic and India] as well as many other organizations. Also an artist, Choman has contributed to a number of joint exhibitions in Britain and across Europe.
She is the chair of Exiled Writers\' Ink! which is an organization consisting of established refugee writers who write in another language as well as English. The organization aims to represent those writers whose voice has not been represented in the main stream British media.
Her father Ahmad Hardi, who also lives in London, is a very well-known and much respected Kurdish poet: “poetry started with my father, his regular recital of poetry at moments of anger, sadness, and laughter has had the greatest effect on me”.


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