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This review is taken from PN Review 166, Volume 32 Number 2, November - December 2005.

CROSSING INTO THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE BEJAN MATUR, In the Temple of a Patient God, translated by Ruth Christie (Arc) £9.95
CHOMAN HARDI, Life for Us (Bloodaxe) £7.95

Bejan Matur and Choman Hardi made their poetic debuts into English differently. Matur's poetry was translated from the Turkish by Ruth Christie. Born in Iraqi Kurdistan and currently living in England, Choman Hardi bypassed translation and self-translation, choosing to write straight into her adopted language. Memorably, both collections tell 'the story of the tribe and sorrow' (to quote from Matur's poem 'Those Who Search'). Broken bodies, scattered limbs, and the complicated relationship the poets have with their native land form the subject of these poems, which intimate to us a sense of violent history.

Bejan Matur is of Kurdish provenance living in Turkey. Her poems ambitiously speak of God; the mysterious power of the woman to give life and also to kill; the connection between the body and the landscape as one merges with the other; the depth of love; and of local bloodshed. 'The god chose us/ and gave us love/ so we might feel his loneliness' she says in 'From Deep in the Forest'; and then, in 'Woman is a Letter on Allah's Wall', she forces the concept of sin disturbingly: 'The sun never lit the tiles/ where I laid my son/ strangled him' and 'I did not know Allah's letters/ I was time/ and sin'. This expands and disturbs the vision of the nurturing woman, which comes up in many of her poems, as in 'Lament', where 'to be a mother is to know the pain of others'. The notion of death is also ...


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