Eskere Boyik

A Glimpse on the Kurdish Literature in the former Soviet Union

There are relatively short periods that are of epochal importance. The Soviet period has been crucial for the foundation of the modern Kurdish literature in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and other regions of the former Soviet state. The October Revolution of 1917, despite its controversial standing in the modern historiography, opened the way of cultural development for many feudal societies including Russian, Armenian and Kurdish ones. The backwardness of the social relationships amongst the Yezidi Kurds and the genocidal politics of the Ottoman authorities forced them to move to the Caucasus in order to escape from the life which looked like hell.

At the beginning of the Soviet era, the majority of the Kurds lived in Azerbaijan, where there existed the so-called Kurdistanskiy Uezd (Kurdistan regional autonomy) between 1923 and 1930. Other Kurdish groups resided in Armenia, Georgia and Turkmenistan. However it was the Yezidi Kurds of Armenia who paved a way to the creation of the standartised Kurdish language and Soviet literary tradition in Kurdish.

The period between 1920s and 1937 was the golden age of the cultural Renassaince amongst the Kurds and all the national minoirities of the USSR. First, the Armenian Yezidi Kurds headed by Hakob Xazaryan, a Kurdish-speaking Armenian, founded a Kurdish alphabet with Armenian letters called Shems. It has been followed by Latin (by Arab Shamilov and Ishak Marogulov) and later Cyrillic Kurdish alphabets which were used to publish the Kurdish newspaper Riya Teze (The New Path) and many books and school material. The best known representatives of the first generation of the Kurdish intellectuals are the academicians Qanate Kurdo and Cherkez Bakayev as well as Djerdoye Gendjo and Semend Siyabendov. Before the World War 2, there were collections of Kurdish folklore and early attempts to write novels and theatre plays according to the socialist realism. The following names deserve to be mentioned here: Hedjiye Djindi and Emine Evdal.

The second period in the Soviet Kurdish intellectual life lasted from 1937 until 1955, that is, during the years of Stalinís personality cult and large-scale presecutions, including the deportation of many Kurds from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to the Central Asia and Siberia. Then, there has been a relative silence in Kurdish literature.

A real advance of the Soviet Kurdish literature took place since 1955 until the decay of the USSR. At that period, many classical works from the Middle Ages has been discovered, translated, published and made availbale to the world-wide Kurdish community. The works of some of the authors ascended to the best Soviet literary level and did not yeild to the modern poetry and prose as such. These poets were beloved by the widely educated Soviet Kurdish readers and their works have been translated into many languages. The new trend of the modern literature combining Kurdish themes with the lyrics of the 20th century started in 1961 with the books Alchichek (The fiery flower) by Ferike Usiv and Dile Kurd (A Kurdish heart) by Shikoye Hesen. A different style, that of saddened wisdom, was pursued by Mikaele Reshid and lots of others. The Soviet Kurdish literature mostly in Armenia, but also in Georgia and other republics has an unequivocal specificity of being both Soviet (with a wide range of topics and achievments) and Kurdsih (with its patriotic longing of the lost homeland). The break-up of the USSR also meant the end of this interesting experience.