The Kurdish Globe
Interview by Shorsh Ghafuri
Globe: You recently published a poetry book, A Coal in the Ashes. When did you write those poems?
Dashti: A Coal in the Ashes is my most recent poetry book. In fact all the poems, in which I have tried to concentrate my poetic ideas, are, as a whole, an effort to stimulate the notion of love in a way that I can raise this notion to the level of religion. I would like to say that poetry can create a rhythm that has an attractive and directional power and take human into a sweet, devotional process. Today, humanity is suffering from the pressure of boredom. But powerful and modern poems can create a temporary retreat for the reader to go into deep thought. In short, the process of giving birth to a poem is the process of giving value to human emotion. Those poems that work outside of human feelings are those that are born under the impact of technology that might not be different from the machines in terms of impact, and so they don't have the same power of immortality and sustainability. In my poetic experience, I have kept away from this type of poetry and am trying to bring about a justification for the immortality of humans, something which is very difficult that calls for deep thought and extensive experience.
Globe: In this book, you seem to be attached to "the other" and use second person singular. Is this related to "seeking the other" mor are you looking for your own missing half?
Dashti: The word "you" is an encompassing word, covering the whole book, like the wind when it comes and covers all the earth and sky. It is not a word that is only attached to the sword, like a Samurai, but rather to the issues of existence. It is an expression of the questions of existentialism. So in this book, it raises a number of questions about the body of sweet poetry. It is a conversation with the unknown beauty. It is a dialogue with the visible and invisible. The power of poetry will only have an impact when it can deconstruct the reader and reconstruct in its own way, that is, when it is a creative effort. Take a look at the poems of [Mewlana Jalaluddin] Rumi and see how he has made poem a balancing weight for existence. He rotates all the characters inside a human. If I have been successful in changing all the words into terms, I have not allowed any word to stay imprisoned inside poetry, because a person is a lost stranger inside this universe who is trying to find himself. There isn't a half that is lost, but there is a quality in the loss of the source of love.
Globe: In the book, the reader can feel nihilism inside you. Does it relate to the Camus? absurdism, or that of Sadiq Hidayat, or it is a different way of defining life?
Dashti: If you look more deeply into my previous answers, you see that there is a comprehensive answer to this question. I have been feeling that in myself for a long time, but I am rather under the impression of the questions of this philosophy, meaning that although it is impossible that I reach the answer, but poetry can replace those answers. I have resorted to poetry during difficult times when looking for the answers to nihilism. There, I am answering the questions in my thoughts in the shape of monologue. Sadiq Hidayat has done this in the shape of a novel, like a Kafka absurdist. But neither philosophy nor a novel have the power of poetry in answering such issues. For me, poetry is the definition of unveiling my thoughts, it is absurdism. For me, poetry and life are balancing each other, absurdism exists in everyone at a certain level, especially for those who have a vision for this universe and think about it.
Globe: Many people think that difficulties, the environment and an individual's life bring about poetry. Doesn't poetry recreate poetry, especially inside the poet?
Dashti: Nothing has the ability to create powerful poetry or be a creator of poems. What creates powerful poetry needs a human idea in which life is reflected like a mirror. Those you have mentioned might have their roles in the classical era, but not in modern literature.
Globe: What does poetry mean to you? Why did you become a poet?
Dashti: For me, poetry is a multidimensional process. It is the pot where all knowledge is concentrated in the language of conscience for the purpose of creating a balance called the subject balance; that is, keeping the balance between the outer realities with the conscience. However, my definition of poetry does not summarize in this, because, in essence, it does not have a specific meaning and is related to the individual experience. Why I became a poet? This is a necessity of the terms of freedom.
Globe: What are the unique characteristics of Kurdish poetry? If you are given a number of poems and asked which one is a Kurdish poem, how do you recognize it, Some say poetry is a general language and not related to nation, soil or time.
Dashti: The latter part defines the dynamics of poetry, but I think every poem belongs to humanity in the end, that is, the characteristic of a quality poem is a humanist characteristic that goes above all other characteristics. But still, as any geography has its unique climate, despite their humanist identity, poems can be different. The great poems live in the depth of humanity, not in the appearance.
- Karim Dashti is a Kurdish poet born in Erbil in 1955.
- He graduated from the College of Law in Baghdad in 1980 and started writing in 1987.
- Dashti has 15 poetry books, three novels and seven translated works.