One of the contributors to After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events is Nazand Begikhani, who survived the chemical gas-bombing attack in Halabja by the regime of Saddam Hussein on Iraqi Kurds on March 16, 1988, which killed 5,000 civilians, 75 percent of them women and children. Begikhani escaped, though her two brothers died, and she now lives in London.
She is an incredible poet and scholar, a polyglot who translates her own poetry into French and English, and her poems have been translated into Arabic and Persian. She has also translated Baudelaire and T.S. Eliot into Kurdish. Begikhani is a founding member and coordinator of Kurdish Women Action Against Honor Killing. Her research into Kurdish gender issues is widely published in Kurdish, French, and English.
In an email yesterday, Begikhani asked me for comp copies of After Shocks to sell at upcoming conferences in Paris and London of the Kurdish Women's Rights Watch. Proceeds would benefit KWRW. The Paris conference starts next Thursday, so I am mailing her a dozen copies expedited. At that weight and speed, this is going to cost at or near $100, maybe more (gulp!). Can I afford this? Not really, but I guess I can afford it more than Kurds can. My incredibly insignificant contribution--can it help the cause of justice in this murderous world?
Anyway, I share this here because I am just totally overwhelmed by the unexpected turns in my journey of the past 18 months to compile and launch After Shocks. The surprises get more incredible each day. Whether I sell enough books to earn back my costs seems immaterial at this point. The fun I'm having is worth every dollar. Never in my wildest dreams would I have anticipated coming across Nazand Begikhani's poems and her causes.