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You can’t bury them all

Patrick Woodcock

ECW Press

Canadian poet Patrick Woodcock has spent much of his life as an expatriate in diverse countries that include Poland, Iceland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Colombia. In his new collection, the poet draws from the land and history of Kurdish Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Canada’s Northwest Territories.

“Yan Kurdistan … Yan Naman,” which forms the title of the first of the collection’s four parts, is Kurdish for “Give me Kurdistan or give me death.” The Kurds are spread over four countries – Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran – in a volatile region riddled with geopolitical strife, and most recently the Syrian civil war. In contrast to the conflicts that have plagued the area, Woodcock’s poem “Amedi” provides a vivid ode to the paradisaical ancient town built on a mountain plateau: “The blue blanket above the stillborn mountain, / ... Amedi, you look / like a jawbone at first blush. We rush to you.” The image is serene and colourful, yet bursting with a rich and dark history.

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