Kyrgyzstan WPM Report

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Bishkek, February 15th, 2023

National Coordinator: Altynay Temirova 

“Poetry is the mother of the World”

Dear coordinators, members and participants of the WPM, poets and poets of all continents, countries of our one planet! I’m greatly for accepting me into your ranks, in this noble cause and far- reaching mission of striving to preserve peace, well-being and spiritual values among the society, on the Earth and in the hearts of all Mankind!

As a new member, I’d like to introduce myself and introduce you to the history and poetic history of my country:

I am a poet, playwright and translator in modern Kyrgyzstan. Historically, Kyrgyz are the indigenous nomads of Central Asia, naturally gifted with a poetic and creative spirit, that  is rooted in the oral storytelling folk art of tokmolyuk – improvisation. Since ancient times, nomads, without much literacy or writing, have nurtured ingenious poets and singer-improvisers who never prepared ahead and f time but composed and performed lyrics, music and stories in real time in front of public.. They sang about peace and friendship, about people and destiny, about nature and life, about the universe and world order, about the past and the future, about good and evil… in general about everything in the world… for hours on end, sometimes even for days. In those days, their performance gave people a lot – it was a  historical mono-theatre for the people, a single-actor show. The works they performed inspired people to live, act, create; called for unity and peaceful life; taught about love, friendship and kindness; shared the feeling of unity with nature and universe! Thus, the beginning of our poetic art begins with the art of tokmolyuk, which encompasses many different genres. The performers of each type of genre were also called differently, as: manaschy – storytellers of the epos Manas trilogy only; dastanchy – storytellers of minor eposes, dastans, heroic legends; akyn – singers on free themes; jomokchu – fairy storytellers; koshokchu – singers of traditional koshok songs; yrchy – singer as the common name for oral performance art, etc. This sacred spiritual-poetic tradition continues to this day.

One of the distinctive genres of oral folk singing tokmolyuk, is aytysh, a competition between akyns – improvisers. In the past the people were famous for their witty language, and almost everyone member of general public could compose a sparkling quatrain on the fly, at least once in a lifetime. This gave rise to a joking saying that all Kyrgyz are poets, and it was said: the best skill is eloquence! And above all else, the Word has always been valued!

In tokmo-akyn competitions in the region, neighboring Kazakhstan almost always accompanies them, as the tradition of aitysh is inherent to the Kazakh people too. That is why, since ancient times, the competition between the singers of the two peoples, the Kyrgyz and the Kazakhs, has continued successfully to the present day, helping people to discover the problems and feelings, the joys and sorrows of ordinary people, and to see the virtues and shortcomings of modern society.

 For our country the 20th century began with the tragic genocide of 1916, when the people of the northern part of the country fled to China to protest against the First World War. Then came the repression of the 1920s and 30s and 40s. During those tragedies, our people were not the only martyrs, many nations in Soviet Union suffered, and in the Second World War, during the famine and cold years, the whole globe pined! And all these troubles our long-suffering nation survived – thanks to the spirit of Manas, the protector of the people, through their storytelling guides, who supported the people in the most difficult times with their heroic work – no matter what, they continued to chant, in both sorrow and joy, giving courage and calling for life and peace. In this oral-storytelling art of manaschy – akyns, there is a Great Power of true High Poetry!

Modern Kyrgyz written poetry in Cyrillic alphabet, originated in those difficult times of the 20th century (before that the Arabic alphabet was used, and even before that they had their own script lost during the destructive wars of Genghis Khan). At the origins of this new beginning stood great poets such as: Jusup Turusbekov, Jomart Bokonbaev, Aaly Tokombaev, Alykul Osmonov, and others. Starting from realistic poetry combined with folklore, the poetic genre current gradually shifted to modern, vers libre and free verse. Epic, romantic, oral and written natıonal folklore were enriched with new trends.

Today, there are many poets who write in new ways and continue to develop a traditional style. Some are writing in different Eurasian directions, retaining their originality and national flavour.

Poets are children of nature – very sensitive to all changes in society, in people, and in the universe, as our old folk saying goes: “If a rift happens somewhere on earth, it goes through the heart of the poet.” Our modern country, in the last 30 years of its sovereignty, has experienced three revolutions. In between these revolutions there have been terrible events inside the country, which has also been a kind of catastrophe, a tragedy for our society. I have set out about them in my poems:

Обнявшись с роковой красоткой Смертью,
«сутенёры Смерти» прогуливались по городу,
в костюме невидимки, неузнанные и безликие…
только с ней спали они, 
только её передаривали,
друг другу и прохожим
отмеченным косою…
«Клиенты» и киллеры,
посылали как «дилеры»
её «поцелуи» холодные…
Поцелуи эти, голодные пели, –
оставляя частичку себя, сидели,
как хозяева в чьих-то телах,
властвуя в чьих-то душах,
забирая тепло, убивая любовь,
отнимали жизнь вновь и вновь…
А в городе гадали,
о злой напасти годами…
Да кто же вы такие?!..
Продажные и жестокие,
в горечь слёз облачённые,
сотканные из страха и грёз,
ненависти и проклятий?!.
…Роковая, обходи?!..
В нашей стране не броди!..
На кон жизнь людскую не ставь за грош?!..
«Сутенёры», сгиньте,
с убийцами вместе,
пусть вернётся в город наша любовь,
Пусть вернётся… Любовь!.. усть!

Embraced by the fatal beauty Death,
“Death’s pimps” strolled through town
in an invisible costume, unrecognized and faceless…
she was the only one they slept with,
only she was handed down,
to each other and to passers-by
marked by the scythe…
“clients” and killers,
sent like “dealers”
her “kisses” were cold…
Those kisses, hungry singing, –
leaving a piece of themselves sitting
like masters in someone’s body,
dominating someone’s soul,
taking away warmth, killing love,
taking life again and again…
And in the city, they’ve been guessing
about an evil plague for years…
Who are you?!
You’re corrupt and cruel,
…clothed in the bitterness of tears..,
woven of fear and dreams,
hatred and curses?!
…Fatal, go around?!…
Don’t wander in our country…
Don’t put your life on the line for a penny…
“Pimps”, go away,
with the murderers,
Let our love return to the city,
Let love come back… Love!… Let it..

(June, 2005, Helsinki – Lahti. At the International PEN-Club Congress of Writers of Asia, America and Europe)

– Сидят у вас писатели в тюрьме? –
меня спросила финка Анна-Рита.
– Нет…
В моей стране,
заменила эта –
тенета быта…
Плохо одеты… и совсем не сыты.
Рубищем выживания прикрыты.
Всему народу
из чужой затеи,
как Лаокоону из объятий змея,
не выбраться никак
и жизнь как яд,
кровь отравляет, превращая в Ад…
жестокая, немыслимая пытка –
Я выдыхаю криком:
– Нет! – И в душе гремит набат:
«Король» порочный виноват!..
Все, что он творил,
ему же вернется, как бумеранг!..
– Гнать?!..
– Карать?!..
За испытания, за страдания…
Но убежал «король».
У Судьбы незабываемая «шутка»! –
В «одноактном действии»…
Нет слов!..
И нет пути назад!..

– Do you have writers in prison? –
Anna-Rita, Finnish woman, asked me.
– No…
In my country,
replaced by this –
the tenets of everyday life…
Poorly clothed… and not at all well fed.
The rags of survival are covered up.
All the people
out of someone else’s scheme,
like Laocoon from the serpent’s grasp,
can’t get out of the snake’s grasp.
and life is like poison,
poisoning the blood, turning it into hell…
cruel, unthinkable torture –
of being…!
I exhale with a cry:
– No! – And there’s a rattle in my soul:
“Down with me!
“The wicked king is to blame!
All that he has done
He’ll get back what he did like a boomerang!
– “Chase him down”?
– Punish him?
For the ordeal, for the suffering…
But the “king” escaped.
Fate has an unforgettable “joke”! –
In a one-act act…
There are no words!
There’s no turning back!

As in the WPM concept, humanistic ideas are inherent in all progressive creative people in our large Central Asian region and the republics of the former Soviet Union. It was a kind of tradition and natural humanity. But, in the age of change of the 21st century, all values have destroyed. In a mercantile society, everything has become upside down. And creative people, not just to develop, have even found it difficult to survive, especially poets. Now, they are trying to go back to their roots, to revive and protect all that is noble and sacred that still survives, while at the same time trying to progress with the times, on all sides. As Mr. Fernando Rendón stressed in his Report, in our time “we are threatened not only by the risk of war, of nuclear catastrophe, but also by the risk of climate catastrophe and the consequences of growing global inequality.” And singing about all this – about saving the nature, culture and spirit of the peoples of the world for history, will also be up to We, the Poets.

As the great Dostoevsky said: “Beauty will save the world”, we can say that “Poetry will save the world!”, because poetry is the manifestation of spiritual beauty! And the origins of both concepts come from Nature itself. Nature gives mankind everything, not only for physical life – air, water, food; but also gives much for spiritual life – inspiration, thinking, creativity, talent, etc. It is our Great Mother, and Poetry is the sacred renaming of Nature in the language of the soul. In ancient times, our ancestors treated their mother with great reverence, “where people do not revere mother nature, there disasters happen…” they used to say. Maybe that’s true. It’s time to think…