4Word is excited to announce that our next pamphlet is due to be launched on June 1st. Titled Remote, it has been written by a young Kurdish woman, Sarwa Azeez, currently living in the States, and is dedicated to Those who believe in freedom and fight for it.
This is a stunning debut and Stella and I feel privileged to have played a part in its inception and in helping to launch it, and its creator, to a wider world.
Sarwa Azeez takes us through the experiences of women in Iraqi Kurdistan from the early ‘80s to the present day. She captures lives inside and beyond the home, in wartime and in peace. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. Her hauntingly beautiful poetry gives you a glimpse of life under a patriarchal regime that attempts to stifle women’s voices, and she transgresses wonderfully.
(Dr Muli Amaye – author of A House With No Angels, (Crocus Books), and co-ordinator of MFA Creative Writing at the UWI, Trinidad)
These poems by Sarwa Azeez will startle you. They are delicate yet devastating, their endings often small explosions reverberating through the collection. “Something toxic was muting me,” reveals Azeez, simultaneously laying bare a deeper culture of fear, censorship, and female repression within war-ravaged Kurdistan, spanning generations: “one day my daughter may inherit my exact mummified mouth,” vexes this talented poet, fully aware of the exacting cost of speaking out. Sarwa Azeez is destined to become one of the important writers of our time. (
(Dr Eman Hassan – author of Raghead, which was named as the 2018 Editor’s Choice (forthcoming, New Issues Press, 2019) and the recipient of a Folsom Award. Former International Poetry Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review and former Associate Editor for Prairie Schooner, Eman is one of the founders of The American University of Kuwait and part of Zayed University’s start-up team (UAE). She is also a veteran of the first Gulf War.
We live in a world that seems to be increasingly violent and, with frequency, we can become immune. If someone tells us about war, inequality, violence, homelessness, migration, we may pretend that we are listening, but hope that their next topic is about love or travel. Maybe poetry has the cure for today’s desensitised world.
I hope my poems give some blood and feeling back to everyday words, to portray what it is like to be vulnerable, cold or frightened in severely shattered war-torn environments. But also to show that life is not as easy as it seems, at least not for a female who is born and raised in a patriarchal culture. War happened. Childhood was miserable. Men displayed power, they said they defeated enemies. They ignored women who fought with them, cooked for them, cared for their children, kept homes together or simply waited.
First I wanted to find a way to describe the haunting images of postwar Kurdistan; then, other images struggled to find their place among my war-struck words. A 20 year old girl from our neighbourhood was killed for ‘honor’ yet no-one talked about her. Genocide stole a generation, but few people described the misery that women endured after losing their husbands and sons. I turned to poetry to describe the un-described, to portray the hidden lives of females who lived and live under cultural and social restrictions. I wrote my poems for the hope of a better future. Writing to live.
Sarwa’s pamphlet is available to order and pre-order from 4Word https://www.4word.org/ for £5.99 (plus p&p)