Poetic justice

Book by Sherko Bekas
The Kurdish language was forbidden by successive invaders. Although secretly spoken, many generations have never seen it written. Sherko Bekas, a famous poet, is renowned for writing poems using the pure ancient Kurdish language, now being discovered by younger generations.
Source: KAV Archives

The harsh geography and the political history of Kurdistan have left a distinctive mark on Kurdish culture. The Kurdish language has five distinct dialects, spoken in different areas of Kurdistan, and speakers of one dialect may not be able to understand speakers of another. In Australia, Kurds from different regions often use a third language, such as English, to communicate with each other.

Traditionally, Kurdish literature is a rich oral tradition of poetry, epics and love stories. Only as recently as the 19th century has it been written down and published, and even today there is no standard script. The use of Kurdish languages in our homeland – in either written or spoken form – has often been accompanied by severe punishment by authorities, and at times the language has been forced underground. In Turkey it is illegal to give a child a Kurdish name; in Australia our children freely and openly attend Kurdish language classes every week.

What unites us is not a single language or a published literature, but a common culture. Kurdish poetry, storytelling, music, dance, body decoration and handcrafts all preserve and promote our identity, heritage and experiences. All of these traditions have survived centuries of oppression and are now strong in Australia.

Image Gallery

Kurdish language class Teaching the language Statues of poets and writers Novel by Ahmede Xani