Guidelines to understanding the poetry
of the Kurdish poet-prophet Salim Barakat (b. 1951, Qamishli, Syria) are to be
found in a poem by his friend, the Palestinian poet-prophet Mahmud Darwish (b.
1941, al-Birweh, Palestine – d. 2008) – Laisa lil-Kurdi ila al-Rih [Ila:
Salim Barakat] (The Kurd Has Only the Wind [For Salim Barakat]) ( (2004).
For the benefit of the English-speaking reader, as Darwish’s poem and Barakat’s
poetry (also in Arabic) have not previously been translated to English, I have
included, in the body of this study, my translation of Darwish’s aforementioned
poem and various of Barakat’s poems, namely: Niqabat al-Ansab (Lineage) (1970); Kama’in fi al-Mun‘atafat Killiha / Htam ma – Sihm (Ambushes at Turns / Conclusion – A Sort of Arrow)
(1985). I have appended the whole of Barakat’s long poem Surya
(2014). The techniques Barakat introduces into the art of writing modern Arabic
poetry come from modern mainstream poetry, as well as from his Kurdish and
Persian background. Altogether his concept of history, which puts into sharp
outline the norm of the ancient and medieval world of empire, enters the
poem-of-his-being, the “work” as Maurice Blanchot describes it – and makes his
chronicling unique. Discussion of the
selected poems clarifies as to how Barakat became a poet-prophet, and describes
the commitment he took on not only to the Kurdish nation, but also to the
entire Middle East.
Salim Barakat, Kurdish poet, Zoroastrianism, modern Arabic poetry, Mahmud Darwish