On Poetry: Sherko Bekas (Part 2)

Interview and Translation by Aras Ahmed Mhamad:Sherko

This interview, conducted last year, is possibly the only interview with Sherko Bekas (who died last week) in the English language.

AA: Have you ever imagined a day where poetry and poets are neglected – taking into the consideration the fact that the rise of the novel has marginalized poetry.

SB: A beautiful poem is just like a pleasant voice, none can be neglected. No invention can wipe away the other invention. Beautiful novels couldn’t erase beautiful short stories. Cinema couldn’t obliterate novels. Beautiful things complete each other and each beautiful thing has its taste, pleasure, color, smell and love. If there were no poems, there wouldn’t have been novels. The era of the novel was the era of intense social relations. Prose addresses us more directly and is more logical and it talks about the miseries of our daily life; whereas the language of poems is more indirect and symbolic and there is a kind of disguise in the language of poems.

Tolstoy couldn’t eliminate Pushkin, Gogol couldn’t confiscate Lermontov, and Hugo couldn’t abolish Rambo; likewise, novels cannot put an end to beautiful poems. Every genre of literature has its magic, beauty and language. Our thoughts and literature will get richer having those differences. However, people and readers in general will love literature that addresses their wound, wish and worry directly.

In Kurdish society, poems are still the highest points of the mountains and they aren’t lowering. When cinema was invented, the entire world said that this is the end of poetry and many other things. But that was untrue. By depending on the statistics I read these days, poems have still a good number of readers in Europe and America. Moreover, there are still academic researches and studies on poems in the big centres of the world especially in the popular universities. As you know, the yearly Nobel Prize is sometimes won by poets.

 AA: Poetry has been said to weaken the military spirit, encourage people to do vice and distract people from the right path. How does that make you feel as a poet?

SB: I haven’t heard of these allegations and the question isn’t clear. What military are you talking about? Where can we find the ‘vice’ of poetry? If the aim of the question is erotic poems, then in my opinion they are an important part of our lives and social affairs. These poems can approach the reality of humans’ conscious and unconscious better. And that is the beauty and reality of life and love.

Whether society, law and religion accept these kind of poems or not, it doesn’t affect the fact of their existence and continuity. Religious extremists retaliate against these poems by making use of social conventions and the values of religion. Poetry isn’t a slogan to embrace moral allegation. Poetry is like reality that appears unclothed.  Those things that are considered bad by conservatives might be developed to me. After all, who decides which way is bad and which way is good? What is ‘good’ and ‘bad’? Poetry is above all observations. In fact, this is the challenge between beauty and its enemies. The enemies of beauty are those who consider themselves moral but from humanity’s perspective they have the lowest human features. The good and bad aspect of poems has one criteria and that is its artful side.

Additionally, for every kind of thought and opinion there is a picture that finds its place in poems without paying attention to any sort of social, religious or political censorship. The humanity of poems can be found in its freedom and freedom can’t be restricted. Good and bad is relative and there is no absolute decision in them.

 AA: Do you think poetry presents a world more beautiful than the world we live in? If so, is this a good or bad thing?

SB: The world of poems is the world of childhood and lovers. One of the utopian things that humanity always wishes to reach is the world of peace and love, which is the exact opposite to the world that we live in nowadays. The world of today is the world of war, destruction, pain and starvation. It is the world of authority and confrontation between big interests and usually bloody ambitions. The world of today reaches its death edge because of the ambitions of big countries.

One of the hopes of humanity was that that modernism would bring a world full of happiness and justice. But unfortunately modernism brought world wars and atomic bombs. This failure made people hopeless and darkened the future of humanity. In the world of poems, certainty and justice can be established. Poetry wants to change the bitter realities of the world to happiness and begin to change in every aspect of human life.

Since the development of humans, philosophy and every theory of the world came to make people happy. Conversely, from the religious messages to the messages of modernism till today all have brought a message that is full of war, injustice, cruelty and discrimination. The world of poems is the world of love in its essence, while the world of today is the world of untruth and worldly authority. Poetry by itself is powerless and can’t provide us that beautiful world. But poetry is always the magical energy that can spread love all over humankind. It is a spiritual force that can always be a lighted torch.

And of course the world of childhood and love is the world of purity and peace; that is why they are the most beautiful and the best in the world.

Aras Ahmed Mhamad is a freelance writer and translator. He is the Founder and Deputy Editor of SMART magazine, an independent English magazine that focuses on ‘Literature, Language, Society’. He is the Top Student of College of Languages at the Department of English/ University of Human Development, 2012.

Copyright © 2013 Kurdistantribune.com

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