Leading Azerbaijani poet pens sensitive new verse dedicated to Azerbaijani IDPs and refugees

Press Release: Nigar Hasan-Zadeh is one of the leading living Azerbaijani poets. Being well-versed in the poetic heritage of Azerbaijan, her works encapsulate the symbolism of her native country which is rooted in Sufism. Having been published and translated extensively, Nigar is currently Director of the Soz Literary Project, run by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture and Tourism, is a member of the Azerbaijani Writers’ Union and a member of Pen International, which has promoted freedom of expression through literature since 1939.

On the occasion of UN World Refugee Day on 20 June, Nigar has applied her poetic talent to highlighting the plight of the estimated one million Azerbaijani internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees who are the ongoing victims of the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Due to the illegal occupation of an estimated 20 per cent of Azerbaijani territory, two generations of Azerbaijanis have grown up in camps spread across the country. This is a particular tragedy for the arts, as the Nagorno-Karabakh region was home to some of the greatest Azerbaijani poets, including Natavan and Molla Panah Vagif.

The poem – translated by Christopher Arkell, former editor of The London Magazine, the oldest British literary periodicaland Editor-in-Chief of The London Miscellany – is equally relevant to all refugees in the world as for specifically the Azerbaijani situation. In Azerbaijan, 10 per cent of the population has refugee or IDP status, equating to one of the highest proportions in the world:

 

This is the world where millions of shattered souls are moaning,

This is the world of bloodied unshaven faces,

Of birds that are mute,

This is the world of blind executioners, who are above the world,

This is the world of hacking swords.

 

This is the world of weeping candles, of sleepless nights

Of cemeteries missing putrid graves,

The world of lost hopes, of lost garments of countless motherless children, children, children,

This is the world of ruling ignoramuses,

 

The world of cindered hearths and walls!

The world of torrents of tears,

The world of veins like lightning

 

The blind trader,

Without reflections and mirrors.

 

The world has become tight, has become maddeningly small,

for life in it, for those whom the world would not hear.

 

This is the world of the rats, to whom all the others are mere mice,

The ships sink without oceans,

Countries are wiped out from the map.

 

In the deserts there are wandering prayers, delivered in a colourless voice, and the faith is fading in greyness,

Saliva is full of dust,

This is the world where men, women are all on their own!

 

The world is a refugee,

A stranger in a house which brings no comfort to the dweller,

Where the refugee world is begging for bread and water,

This is the world of destitution!

 

But you! You exist in this world, you are alive and spared among the millions of the dead bodies, you exist!

My world of the worldly revenge, of my goodness, of the last light in which the dawn is waiting to touch leads that are too heavy, 

Yes! You exist, my world, my human.