Aaron in Azerbaijan

Just another blog about Azerbaijan.

Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

A Sunday Poem

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It’s been a rough week, so the posts this week have been few. We’ll start the new week with a poem from Bakhtiyar Vahabzade (Bəxtiyər Vahabzadə), called Speed (Sürət):


Time was, we would sit
in the compartment of a train
Three days and three nights
Counting the miles
For lack of anything else to do.

Then, eight hours by plane,
And now just three hours,
Still sorry,
Bored stiff.

We want to fly
With the speed of light,
But even the speed of light
Is too slow to catch
The flight of our thoughts.

I am the son of modern times.
Give me now
The speed of my mind
The speed of my thoughts,
Not to worry me,
Not to bore me to death.
Just now,
Match the swiftness of my mind,
Move now!

Sorry that there’s no translation this week. If you’d like to check out more poems by Bəxtiyər, head over to Azeri.org.


Written by Aaron

October 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm

A Sunday Poem

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This week’s poem is by Vagif Samadoghlu (Vaqif Səmədoğlu), called That Strange and Soft Tune (Sənin səhərdən axşama kimi oxuduğun). Enjoy:

That Strange and Soft Tune

That strange and soft tune
that once you were murmuring all day long
in the language that I didn’t understand,
is still ringing in my ears.
I have learned by heart
the strange words of that nice and inconsolable,
of that distant and desperate song,
and they are still ringing in my ears…
That strange song that once
you were singing all day long
is as far, unhappy and somehow cautious
as my native land.

For the Azeri, read below… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Aaron

October 23, 2011 at 5:48 am

A Sunday Poem, On Monday

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Travel logistics made Sunday’s poem get pushed back to today. This week, we read a poem by Füzuli, Azerbaijan’s epic poet writing in the 16th century. This is an excerpt from his rendition of Leyla and Majnun (Leyli və Məcnun), describing Leyla:

Among all the girls was one bright as a fairy,
Who aimed all her glances directly at Qays.
So beautiful she, with her ways and her graces,
That many an elder, forgetful of vows,
Might find all his virtue caught up in her curls.
Calamitous chain for the neck was the garland
Of ringleted locks that fell down in a cloud:
Affliction for lovers was spelled by her eyebrows,
As lovely as twins, and, as twins, forming one.
Each eyelash that curved from her lids was an arrow
That pierced to heart and that stirred all the blood:
Her eyes from their shelter poured forth fiery glances
That, piercing the soul, spread the fever of love.
Her brow, like an ocean, far spread and smooth rolling
Like the ocean had many a peril in check.
The black of her eyes shamed collyrium’s darkness
And made it a captive in chains to her mole.
Her cheeks flushing red, paled her rouge to a whiteness,
No rouge ever sullied their delicate blush.
Should her eyes lose their pupils, no blindness would follow,
Her mole would become a black pupil of sight.
Her teeth, pearly white, from between her lips’redness
Gleamed forth as bright pearls in the heart of a rose:
When the doors of her speech were full opened, one fancied
The dead must spring forth from their mouldering tombs.
From her round dimpled chin her neck curved to her bosom;
Her stature and form were creation divine.
The falcon itself, a bird sacred to kingship,
Unhooded, can gaze in the eye of the sun,
But the eyes of this child, with their antelope softness,
Could flash forth a look that the falcon outshone.
Her motion was graceful, her words sugared honey,
No act but had grace, every movement a joy-
But why count her beauties? Put all in a sentence:
The whole world itself, in a passion of terror
Clung fast to her hair, as she went on her way.
Beloved of all the world was this maiden.
Qays looked and he perished, for Leyla her name.
As he with a sorrowful passion of yearning
With sighs fed the fire that her beauty awoke,
So she in a thousand sweet joys lost her reason
For him without whom she knew living was death.
She saw how the world gave its ultimate wonder,
She saw how he held all her world in his hands.

You can find more from Füzuli’s Leyli və Məcnun here at this site about Turkish culture. For even more Azeri poetry, go to Azeri.org’s Poetry page.

Written by Aaron

October 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm

A Sunday Poem

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This week, a poem by Fikrat Goja (Fikrət Qoca) called An Unfinished Work (Yarımçıq İş):

An Unfinished Work

An unfinished work is
An engaged son or daughter
Without a wedding.
An unfinished work is
An autumn without harvest.
An unfinished work is
A road without a bridge,
A land without a road,
A tongue without a word.
An unfinished work is
A work done without a goal,
A curse without meaning,
A kiss without love.
An unfinished work is
A roof with a ceiling
That leaks,
Brother, in short,
An unfinished work is
A person who is good for nothing.

For the Azerbaijani version, read below… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Aaron

October 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm

A Sunday Poem

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This week’s poem is by Ali Karim (Əli Kərim) called Stone (Daş):


Primitive man
Cast a stone at his foe,
Shed blood.
But the stone
Didn’t fall to the ground,
It kept flying,
From horizon to horizon.
Don’t say that the stone disappeared.
That stone transformed into an arrow,
And then a sword,
A bullet,
A missile.
It did not stop as we thought.
It transformed into an atom.
Piercing the summit
And wishes
And the ocean,
It sped away…
Nor has that very stone
Stopped even now,
It still shoots through the air, but where?
It becomes neutron,
A lot of this, a lot of that.
Transforming into fire.
You, my contemporary,
You, brother of Truth,
Tell me, can’t that stone be stopped,
That the half-naked,
Primitive man
Cast so long ago?

For the Azeri, read below… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Aaron

October 2, 2011 at 5:15 pm

A Sunday Poem

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This week, read a poem by Mammad Araz (Məmməd Araz) called If There Were No War (Müharibə Olmasa):

If There Were No War

If there were no war,
We could construct a bridge between Earth and Mars
Melting weapons in an open-hearth furnace.

If there were no war,
The harvest of a thousand years could grow in one day.
Scientists could bring the moon and stars to Earth.

The eyes of the general also says:
“I would be chairman in a small village
If there were no war!”

If there were no war,
We could avoid untimely deaths
Our hair would gray very late.

If there were no war,
We would face
Neither grief, nor parting.

If there were no war,
The bullet of mankind would be his word,
And the word of mankind would be love.

Below, the Azeri version… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Aaron

September 25, 2011 at 8:19 am

A Sunday Poem

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In an effort to make sure the Sunday Poem arrives on Sunday, this poem comes sans translation. It’s from Vagif Bayatly Oder (Vaqif Bayatlı Ödər) and is called More Than Anyone Else (Hər Kəsdən Çox):

More Than Anyone Else

I can neither be the strongest man in the world,
Nor do I want to be.
I don’t want anyone to be afraid of me.

I can neither be the wealthiest man in the world,
Nor do I want to be.
For me the greatest wealth in the world,
is a tiny tent with a smiling face and eyes, with an open door and windows!

I can neither love you more than anyone else in the world,
Nor do I want to love you so.
Because only those who love insincerely
Love more than anyone else.

I want to love you quietly and gently,
I want to love you as destined by God,
Like a small bird that has nestled against the tiny corner of its nest.

Enjoy more from Vagif at his Azeri.org page.

Written by Aaron

September 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm

A Sunday Poem

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This week’s poem was written by Samad Vurghun (Səməd Vurğun) and is called Don’t Bend! (Əyilmə!):

Don’t Bend!

O life! At times it’s smirched with mire and dirt,
But see, life’s stage a thousand curtains knows
When you, young man, in difficult times are hurt,
Then bless the manliness which in you grows.

O Time! It may be pitiless, or sad,
And now and it brutally shakes the earth.
If Time intends to annihilate you, my lad,
Go boldly forward, and fight for all you’re worth.

O Boldness! Every moment it must imbue.
Without it, life would perish, that’s my belief.
And you, who’ve come to know my words are true,
As a man, a son of man, control your grief.

Now what I wished to say, I cry aloud:
Aspire to wide horizons, to highest skies!
Don’t think, young man, that life’s a rosy cloud,
And do not bend, no, not in any wise!

For the Azeri, read on… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Aaron

September 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm

A Sunday Poem

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This week’s poem is by Vagif Samadoghlu (Vaqif Səmədoğlu), called Heart Full of Words (Ürəyi Sözlə Dolu):

Heart Full of Words

Will my notebook die
as a man his heart full of words?
Or will it tell all what it knows?
Will crows be flying over its corpse?
Or will they be pigeons?
Who’ll remember which of these
thousands of words?
Will this last page of my notebook
be closed tonight forever?
Or will it be opened tomorrow again?
If it’ll be opened tomorrow,
Then who’ll do it?
My nation,
or the breeze?…

For the Azeri, read below… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Aaron

September 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

International Writing Olympics 2011: Awarded

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This past weekend, we celebrated another successful go of the Writing Olympics. The award ceremony was packed with guests, including representatives from the US Embassy, Peace Corps, and a host of media organizations, not to mention our budding young writers and their families. At the US-Azerbaijan Education Center in Baku, we gathered to present awards, read selected essays, and congratulate Azerbaijan on a job well done competing both within the country and internationally.

The Writing Olympics is an important piece of what we do here as Volunteers because it gives our Azerbaijani friends and students an opportunity to compete, to practice their English abilities, and to think creatively (a skill not though very highly of around here). Having students ponder questions like “Why is the grass green?” or “If you could fill the night sky with something other than stars and planets, what would it be and why?” is an exercise that doesn’t happen often enough. It would be great if we could do this essay competition in Azeri, but that would make the international part of it much more difficult.

I wrote about the Writing Olympics first last year, when it was the Trans-Caucasus Writing Olympics competition. We reached just under 300 participants and netted some real gems of quotes from the writers. Of the 11 international first-prize awards, Azerbaijan took 5 of them, more than any other country involved (Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova).

This year, Azerbaijan’s students were competing with countries across the globe, including Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and a bunch more (total of 9). Almost 500 students competed, and Azerbaijan tied Ukraine for the most international prizes taken. Overall, it’s a feel-good event that spreads throughout the world through Peace Corps. Encouraging creativity, providing a space to improve English skills, and building connections with people from nine different Peace Corps countries (and within their own countries, too!) is tough to beat.

On a side note, we also got some serious press coverage. In addition to my being interviewed about Writing Olympics and Peace Corps on the national TV channels, we also got picked up on Today.Az and Trend:

US-Azerbaijan Education Center on Saturday held a ceremony to award winners of the International English Olympiad. At the event, certificates and prizes were presented to eight representatives of Azerbaijani youth who have become winners of the contest. The contest was attended by 483 people from all regions of Azerbaijan – both pupils and students. For the first time, the International English Olympiad was held in Georgia in 2004. This year, the contest was by attracted 4,867 people from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Albania, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Mongolia, Ukraine and Armenia. It was noted at the event that most prizes were gained by the Azerbaijani and Ukrainian pupils and students.