This event
has passed

PTC Online Translation Workshops: Iraqi poet Zêdan Xelef


The Poetry Translation Centre is very proud to present our first-ever workshop on Kurmanji poetry*, with poets and translators Bryar Bajalan and David Shook.

This collaborative group translation workshop will focus on the work of Iraqi poet Zêdan Xelef, who works in this dialect also known as Northern Kurdish. After starting writing poetry in Arabic, Zêdan has been developing his practice in his first language, alongside a project translating Walt Whitman into Kurmanji.

This online workshop will take place over two 90-minute sessions on Zoom over two consecutive Tuesdays. This format will let us spend time with a single poetic voice. The sessions will be led by poets and translators Bryar Bajalan and David Shook who have both worked at Kashkul, the Center for Art and Culture at the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani, alongside Zêdan. They will offer insight into the nuances of the language and culture, and give helpful suggestions for the direction of the translation that is produced.

Our online poetry translation workshops can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Join like-minded poetry lovers from across the world to discover new poetry and different cultures, share insights and language skills, working together to open up a poem in its original language and reassemble it in English.

We have had participants from the UK, Egypt, Germany, India and the Phillipines. The workshops are the perfect way to keep you feeling creative, engaged and connected to the world at large. A rough and ready guide translation is provided by the guest translator so there is no need to know the language being translated, simply sign up and bring your love of language.

*A previously advertised 'first Kurmanji workshop' was eventually conducted on an Arabic poem by the same poet.

'Pay-What-You-Can' Pricing

The cost of running these sessions is £45 per person. However, the PTC wants to ensure that our workshops are financially accessible to all, so participants are invited to pay what they can afford to attend.

About the Poet

Zêdan Xelef is a poet and translator from Shingal, the traditional homeland of the Êzîdî people. Forced to relocate to the Chamishko IDP Camp in late 2014, he then completed his studies in translation at the University of Duhok. Xelef’s current projects include translating poetry from Rojava into English and Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself into Kurmanji. After moving to Sulaimani to work for Kashkul, the Center for Art and Culture at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. His poems have appeared in World Literature Today and on the Poetry Foundation website, and he is currently studying for an MFA at San Francisco State University.

About the Translator and Facilitator

Bryar Bajalan is a translator and filmmaker presently pursuing an MA in Middle East Studies at the University of Exeter. He is a Non-Resident Fellow at Kashkul, the centre for art and culture at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. His work as a translator from the Arabic and Kurdish has appeared in Ambit, Modern Poetry in Translation and on the Poetry Foundation website, and his present projects include the translation of poets displaced from Shingal during the Islamic State’s genocide of the Êzîdî and the collection of oral histories in Mosul.

David Shook is a poet and translator whose work has focused on increasing the visibility of writers and communities yet to be represented in English. Their most recent translations are Jorge Eduardo Eielson’s Room in Rome and Pablo d’Ors’ The Friend of the Desert.

Full Details

To try and make the online experience as enjoyable and manageable as possible, places will be restricted - if you book please do make sure you can attend both sessions.

Workshop materials and the log-in details to join the sessions with easy to follow instructions, will be sent out by email when you book your place.

• The PTC will deliver these workshops online via Zoom.
• This online series will follow our usual workshop format, working as a group to translate the poem line by line.
• Working from a guide translation of the original poem, guided by a translator and poet to facilitate the sessions.
• Two sessions lasting 90 minutes over two weeks working on one longer poem
• In advance of the beginning of the series, we will share the original poem and the guide translation that the group will be working from, as well as further materials to aid the experience like audio examples of the poetry and a video introduction to the poet by the translator
• On consecutive Tuesday evenings 15 and 22 February, 18:30-20:00 GMT.
• Pay-What-You-Can donation when reserving your ticket.
• Reserve one ticket for both sessions.

Event date: