rEview/ Trying Again to Stop Time: Selected Poems

Kurdish poet & journalist Jalal Barzanji re-lives memories of love and death, war and freedom in a collection of powerful poems

By Paula E. Kirman

Trying Again to Stop Time
WORDS are powerful. They have the power to protest. While they do not have the power to actually stop a bullet, they can be powerful enough to send the writer to prison.

That is exactly what happened to Kurdish poet and journalist Jalal Barzanji who was imprisoned for two years by Saddam Hussein's regime in the late 80s. In the 90s, Barzanji and his family fled further political oppression by going to Turkey, before eventually immigrating to Edmonton.

Trying Again to Stop Time is a collection of Barzanji's poetry, most of which was previously published, from the late 70s to more recent years and a few that appear in print for the first time in this volume. They were translated into English by Sabah A. Salih, a professor of English at Bloomsburg University, Pennsylvania. 

These poems deal with war, loss, death, changes, love, and sometimes hope and longing. They follow Barzanji's own path of exile and document the internal conflicts that come about living in a new land, while reflecting upon the one from which was fled.

Many of the pieces are very short but with carefully-chosen language that evokes strong sensory images. They are meant to be read and re-read many times, perhaps opening the doors to different interpretations each time.

One does not necessarily have to be familiar with the oppressive political situation that gave birth to these poems. Although they are about specific times and places, many of the sentiments expressed are universal.
Kurdish poet & journalist Jalal Barzanji immigrated to Edmonton to flee political oppression in Turkey


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