Living Otherwise with Uyghur Poetry

Untitled by Carolyn Drake, from Wild Pigeon project

This is a little article I found on Uyghur modernist poetry. Here is a description provided:

We recently released Issue 11 of Banango Street, which included Uyghur translations of the modernist poet Tahir Hamut by Darren Byler and Dilmurat Mutellip. Below, Darren describes the development of Tahir’s work in the context of Uyghur poetry.

And here is the beginning of said article:

Beginning in the early 1990s Tahir Hamut brought newness to the world of Uyghur poetics by shattering traditional imagery and forms of feeling and pulling the shards of what remained together in new ways. Like other members of his modernist cohort he used language to reinvent what it meant to be a Turkic Muslim Uyghur in Northwest China. That is to say, among Uyghurs, poetry is one of the most dominant forms of cultural expression. Thousands of Uyghurs self-identify as poets; hundreds of thousands regard themselves as poetry critics. It was no small feat to radically transform the genre, yet that is precisely what Tahir and others in his group of avant-garde poets have done. They have taken the Sufi imagery that suffused conventional poetics out of formal rhythm and given the quotidian and mundane its place on the page. In doing so they are staking a claim to the modern human experience, pulling traditional knowledge forward, and demanding a space in world literature.

Like elsewhere in the world, the life of a modernist poet is a struggle. For the past 20 years Tahir has been balancing his passion project with his job as media producer. Many times the busyness of work and fatherhood has taken center stage, yet around the end of 2014 a flurry of new poems began to appear; fragments written on an iPhone began to coalesce into fully-formed thoughts. By early 2015 he began to talk about a collection of 60 poems that brought together dozens of new poems and with an assortment of poems from the 90s and early 2000s. A fellow translator, Dilmurat Mutellip, joined in these conversations and over endless cups of coffee we talked out the lore, the friendships, the longings these poems evoke. Plans are in the works to submit this trilingual collection for publication sometime in the near future.

Click here to read more

Yet another fascinating review of Uyghur poetry and modernist writings within the community! I wonder where one can read these poems as they are released, in the original Uyghur?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: