Book launch of You Can't Bury Them All (ECW, 2016), Toronto. Left to right: Patrick Woodcock, poet; Paromita Kar, dancer; Siyar Yetim, musician. (Photo: Monica Graves)
TORONTO, Canada (Kurdistan24) – Canadian award-winning poet, Patrick Woodcock, launched his latest poetry collection in Toronto accompanied with Kurdish music and performance.
You Can't Bury Them All, described as “a poetry that is at once harrowing, angry, and achingly beautiful,” is Woodcock's ninth book, published in 2016 by the reputable ECW Press in Toronto.
Yan Kurdistan, Yan Naman, Kurdish for “Give me Kurdistan or give me death,” is the title of the first section of this book which is set in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The other two sections are based in Fort Good Hope in the Northwest Territories, and Azerbaijan.
Woodcock, who calls himself “an almost Kurd,” has lived in the Kurdistan Region and has been involved with the people, politics, and landscapes of the Region. His previous book, Echo Gods and Silent Mountains (ECW, 2011) was written fully from a Kurdish perspective.
Talented dance scholar and founder of Dilan Dance Company, Fethi Karakecili, originally from Urfa, Kurdistan of Turkey (Bakur), choreographed a piece to match the poetry and the instrument.
“I found the right music for both the dancer and the author. I found the music but I wanted to use just one instrument that can represent Kurdish identity,” Karakecili told Kurdistan24.
“My choreography for this particular event was related to the words and poems of Patrick's new book. The poems were very powerful, emotional, strong and real. That’s what I focused on during the choreography, and tried to offer the same impression with body movement, facial impression, costume and scarf in harmony with the kaval instrument,” he added.
Karakecili is the artistic director of the first Kurdish ballet theatre performance in the world, Mem-o-Zin. The Legend of Noroz, Dance of Colors was his second production staged in Isabel Bader Theatre at the University of Toronto.
Siyar Yetim, also from Bakur, played the instrument kaval, a chromatic end-blown flute, while Woodcock read parts of his book and performer Paromita Kar danced.
The kaval is an instrument that is often associated with mysticism and mountain life. Unlike the flute, the kaval is fully open at both ends and is played by blowing on the sharpened edge of one end.
Paromita Kar, a member of Dilan Dance Company who has a Ph.D. degree in Dance Studies in Canada (York University, Toronto) and has performed in numerous Kurdish venues and starred at both Mem-o-Zin and The Legend of Noroz, shared her thoughts with Kurdistan24.
“The movements are from his [Karakecili's] envisioning, and we used the yellow scarf for expressing parts of the music and poetry. We draw upon different movement heritages of the region: whirling, and some work with the scarf. It was a really interesting and enriching process to work with everyone in this inter-arts performance piece!” Kar told Kurdistan24.
She mentioned that she acquired her costume from a lady who owns a costume shop in Diyarbakir, in southeastern Turkey.
Woodcock, a poet, wanderer, writer and witness who has lived in Iceland, Russia, Bosnia, Colombia, Oman and Saudi Arabia seemed satisfied with the event.
“I am always quite nervous when I read. But when I was reading along with the dance and music I felt strangely confident. I think I was aware that I was participating in something special and that made me feel oddly proud. It felt really rewarding to take such dark poetry and make it beautiful,” Woodcock told Kurdistan24.