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Jalal Barzanji

Jalal Barzanji is a Kurdish poet and journalist who fled from Iraq following imprisonment and persecution at the hands of the Saddam Hussein regime. Barzanji and his family fled to Turkey and then made their way to Canada, settling in Edmonton, Alberta.
Trying Again to Stop Time book cover


Trying Again to Stop Time: Selected Poems

Sabah A. Salih, translator.
Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2015.
PS8603 .A788 A28 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Jalal Barzanji chronicles the path of exile and estrangement from his beloved native Kurdistan to his chosen home in Canada. His poems speak of the tension that exists between the place of one’s birth and an adoptive land, of that delicate dance that happens in the face of censorship and oppression. In defiance of Saddam Hussein’s call for sycophantic political verse, he turns to the natural world to reference a mournful state of loss, longing, alienation, and melancholy. Barzanji’s poetry is infused with the richness of the Middle East, but underlying it all is a close affinity to Western Modernists. In those moments where language and culture collide and co-operate, Barzanji carves out a strong voice of opposition to political oppression. Readers will return to his work again and again, just as viewers return to a favourite painting.

The Man in Blue Pyjamas book cover


The Man in Blue Pyjamas: A Prison Memoir

Based on a translation by Sabah A. Salih.
Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2011.
DS79.66 .B367 A313 2011

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

The style of my book must be in small pieces, as my life has been in pieces. (Jalal Barzanji) From 1986 to 1988 poet and journalist Jalal Barzanji endured imprisonment and torture under Saddam Hussein’s regime because of his literary and journalistic achievements-writing that openly explores themes of peace, democracy, and freedom. It was not until 1998, when he and his family took refuge in Canada, that he was able to consider speaking out fully on these topics. Still, due to economic necessity, Barzanji’s dream of writing had to wait until he was named Edmonton’s first Writer-in-Exile in 2007. This literary memoir is the project Barzanji worked on while Writer-in-Exile, and it is the first translation of his work from Kurdish into English.


Publisher University of Alberta Press