Zahrad’s Clever Poems

zahrad1.jpgPoet Zahrad (1924–2007) died earlier this year and hardly anyone noticed.

The Istanbul-based Armenian poet was born Zareh Yaldizciyan and authored eight books of koan-like poems: Big City (1960); Colored Borders (1968); Green Soil (1976); Kind Sky (1971); Two Springs with One Stone (1989); A Sieve of Water (1995); A Tight Fit (2001); and Water Up the Wall (2004).

His writing is marked by an urbane love of modernity. He is at his best when he has closely pruned his words until only the trunks of his poems remain, powerful in their starkness. Here are three notable examples:

The Big City

Everything is big in the big city
pleasure is big
sorrow is big
like the avenues and the buildings

And those who are little people
Will never feel at home in the big city

(Translated by Tatul Sonentz)

Ahmet Effendi Street

Kiko is afriad to pass by Ahmet Effendi Street
Ahmet Effendi Street is dark
There are couples kissing in the dark

Kiko is afraid to pass by Ahmet Effendi Street
His loneliness invades his mind

(Translated by Tatul Sonentz)

Cleaning Lentils

A lentil, a lentil, a lentil, a stone.
A green one, a black one, a green one, a stone.
A lentil, a lentil, a lentil, a word.
Suddenly a word, a lentil, a lentil, a word
next to another word. A word, a word, a word,
a speech. A word of nonsense.
Suddenly a song. A song, a song, suddenly
an old dream. A green, a green one, a black one
a stone. A lentil, a lentil, a lentil, a stone.

(Translated by Diana Der-Hovanessian)

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