Contemporary Kazakh Poetry, marks one of the pillars of the historic Rukhani Zhangyru programme, bringing together pre and post-Independence Kazakh writers, working together to define Kazakh’s literary history.
“I am descended from warriors and hunters” writes Kadyr Myrza Ali, demonstrating his proud love for country, a feeling shared by each of the poets, expressed in different ways. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of this anthology, according to Professor Jason Harding of Durham University, is the “emergence of strong female voices from out of the shadow of patriarchal family values enshrined in folktale and epic”.
The female poets featured in this collection lend a wonderful freshness of vision to Kazakh writing, each of them embraces the liberal values shared in modern Kazakh society and culture. Their writings provide stimulating and engaging reflections on the contemporary state of Kazakh writing and the limitless imaginings of their futures.
The senior poets in this anthology delve into the turbulent years of Kazakhstan’s past through the era of Soviet rule and the havoc this period wreaked on ordinary lives. The younger contributors blend this historical consciousness with the current democracy, introducing the reader to the imagination that shapes modern Kazakhstan.
The anthologies will be launched at the British Library in London in September 2019.
Kadyr Myrza Ali was a poet who combined his writing with a career in publishing and politics. He published nine collections of poems as well as a number of prose works, including a two-volume collection of aphorisms. He also wrote plays and historical fiction, and translated prolifically into Kazakh. He published a twenty-volume edition of selected works in 2010. He was the winner of numerous awards, including the Lenin Komsomol Prize (Kazakh SSR), the State Prize of the Kazakh SSR, the Grand Prix of the Creative and Literary Association of Mongolia, the State Youth Award Daryn and the Platinum Tarlan Award. He was a recipient of the orders Parasat and Dostyq.
was a poet best known for his love lyrics. He worked for periodicals for fourteen years, becoming executive secretary at the Baldyrghan journal and editor-in-chief at the Jalyn almanac. His debut poetry collection was followed by over forty books. He also wrote books for children and numerous popular song lyrics. He translated the works of foreign poets, as well as excerpts from the Kyrgyz epic Manas, into Kazakh. His selected works have appeared in three editions, of three volumes, fourteen volumes and two volumes respectively. Moldagaliyev was named a People’s Writer of Kazakhstan and was awarded the Lenin Komsomol Prize (Kazakh SSR), the State Prize of the Kazakh SSR and the International Fizuli Prize.
is a poet, literary scholar, politician and anti-nuclear activist. He has been an editor in film and publishing, secretary of the Writers’ Union of Kazakhstan and chairman of the Kazakh SSR State Committee on Cinematography. His political activities include a leading role in the 1989 anti-nuclear campaign, establishment of the Peoples’ Congress Party in 1991 and fifteen years as deputy to the Supreme Council of Kazakh SSR/USSR/Kazakhstan. He also served as the ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Rome and to UNESCO. In 2018, he was appointed director of the Centre for the Rapprochement of Cultures. Suleimenov’s most influential work, ‘AZi-Ya’, appeared in 1975 and since then he has published numerous other important titles. He has been awarded the Lenin Komsomol Prize (Kazakh SSR), the State Prize of the Kazakh SSR, the USSR Komsomol Prize, and a number of other state and international prizes, orders and medals. He is a People’s Writer of Kazakhstan and a Hero of Labour of Kazakhstan.
is a Kazakh poet, composer, and translator. She worked for newspapers for over twenty years, and is the author of more than thirty poetry volumes. Many of her poems reflect on the issues of memory and longing for her native roots in China, while still striving for national unity in the Greater Homeland, Kazakhstan. Her works have been translated into over forty languages and widely published in foreign publications. She has translated poetry by many foreign writers into Kazakh. She is an Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan and has received the orders Qurmet Belgisi and Parasat and many other awards, including the Certificate of Honour of Pakistan. She was awarded the Cambridge University International Professional of 2007 award for her outstanding contribution to Kazakh literature.
Fariza Ongarsynova was a poet and public figure. She worked in newspaper and journal publishing and was a deputy for the Majilis, the lower chamber of the Parliament of Kazakhstan. She authored eight poetry collections and published two editions of selected poems, in two volumes and ten volumes respectively. Her poetry was highly regarded by the literary community and wider audiences, for her strong and clear leading female voice. She also published a collection of essays and brought out a documentary of her life. Six of her books were translated into Russian and she also translated the works of numerous poets into Kazakh. She was a People’s Writer of Kazakhstan, poet laureate of the State Prize of the Kazakh SSR and recipient of the orders Qurmet Belgisi and Parasat.
Mukhtar Shakhanov is a poet and public figure. He is well known for leading the commission on the Jeltoqsan Tragedy, the rigidly suppressed Kazakh youth upheaval against Soviet rule in 1986, and for raising awareness of the need to protect the Aral Sea. He has had numerous prominent roles as a political figure. He is currently editor-in-chief of Jalyn journal and the leader of the Tauelsizdikti QorghauPeople’s Movement. He has published almost twenty books and has also written plays. His works have been translated into some sixty foreign languages. He is a People’s Writer of Kazakhstan, People’s Poet of Kyrgyzstan, and the recipient of many national and international awards.
Vladimir Gundarev was a Russian-born poet, prose writer and translator. He moved to Kazakhstan in 1961, and worked in various radio and literary roles, becoming founder and editor-in-chief of the journal Niva. He has written over thirty poetry collections as well as several works of non-fiction. His poetry is characterised by a loving tenderness for his native lands, both Siberian forests and Kazakh steppes. In his Koreiskie i Yaponskie Motivy (Korean and Japanese Motives) he tries to construct his own poetic form taking into account the intricate rhyme system, style and spirit of Korean and Japanese haiku, tanka, sijo and hansi. His works have been translated into several languages, and he has also translated many Kazakh poets into Russian. Gundarev was awarded the order Qurmet, the Pushkin Medal (Russia) and the International Alash Literature Prize, and was a member of the Russian Academy of Poetry.
Akkushtap Bakhtygereyeva is a poet. She has worked in editorial roles in publishing and film, and is currently head of the literary association Qalamger, and chairman of the West Kazakhstan branch of the Writers’ Union of Kazakhstan. She has written several collections of poems and published two volumes of selected poems; some of her works have been translated into Russian. She is also the author of lyrics for numerous popular songs, and has translated many Russian poets into Kazakh. Baktygereyeva is a poet laureate of the State Prize of Kazakhstan and the International Alash Literature Prize; she holds the title Honoured Worker of the Republic of Kazakhstan and is a recipient of the order Qurmet.
Temirkhan Medetbek is a poet. He has worked in the media and creative industries and was editor-in-chief at the journals Aqiqat and Juldyz. His first poetry collection appeared in 1970 and since then he has been a prolific writer. His notable collection Kok Turikter Saryny (Melodies of Kok Turks) describes modern and contemporary issues in the form of ancient Turkic psalms of the seventh and eighth centuries. Medetbek’s poems have been translated into six languages. He has also written critical prose and has translated many foreign works of poetry and prose into Kazakh. Medetbek has been awarded the Prize of the Writers’ Union of Kazakhstan and the State Prize of Kazakhstan, and is a recipient of the order Qurmet.
Kulash Akhmetova is a poet. She has worked for newspapers and in publishing and is the author of more than twenty collections of poetry. Akhmetova’s early poetry is highly regarded for its portrayal of woman’s complex psychology and complicated fate. The poems of her subsequent stage reflect more on issues of national identity, although they still present her as a lyric poet. Her works have been translated into several languages. She has also translated into Kazakh verses by Bengali, Russian and Lithuanian poets. Akhmetova has received the Lenin Komsomol Prize (Kazakh SSR) and is a poet laureate of the State Prize of Kazakhstan. She is a recipient of the orders Parasat and Qurmet.
Valeriy Mikhailov is a poet, prose writer, publicist, and literary critic. He worked in mass media for over forty years and his positions included that of editor-in-chief. He has published numerous poetry collections, while his most well-known prose text, on Kazakhstan’s famine in the 1930s, has been translated into Kazakh, German and English to great acclaim. He has authored biographies of Russian poets as well as a book of literary portraits ofKazakh literary figures, and co-authored a biography of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, He has also translated several books from Kazakh into Russian. Mikhailov is a member of the Writers’ Unions of both Russia and Kazakhstan, poet laureate of the Lermontov Literary Prize, and recipient of the International Alash Literature Prize and the order Parasat.
Nadezhda Chernova is a poet, novelist, translator, and critic. She has worked for various mass media and creative organisations and as a journal and publishing house editor. She is the author of over twenty books of poetry and prose. The prime subject of her poems is Kazakhstan, for she is drawn to Kazakh history and traditions. Many of her poems introduce to her audiences her experience of Kazakh culture. Being a Russian writer with an excellent knowledge of Kazakh, she delivers the unique music and tone of the Kazakh language in her notable ‘Dva Yazyka’ (Two Languages). Her poems and prose have been published in several journals in Kazakhstan and in former USSR countries and further afield. She has also translated works by foreign poets into Russian. Chernova has been awarded the International Alash Literature Prize, and the order Qurmet.
Iran-Gayip (Iranbek Orazbayev) is a poet and playwright. He has held various senior editorial and managerial posts in publishing and theatre and was editor-in-chief at the Editorial and Repertoire Council of the Education and Culture Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan. He is currently an editor at the Jazushy publishing house. He has published a number of collections of poems, along with a thirteen-volume edition of selected works. He has written around thirty dramatic poems, which have been translated into several foreign languages, and.has translated works by many foreign writers into Kazakh. Iran-Gayip has been awarded the State Prize of Kazakhstan and the Platinum Tarlan Award), and is also a recipient of the order Parasat.
Serik Aksunkar is a poet, essayist, and journalist. He worked for local newspapers before becoming the executive secretary of the Qaraghandy regional branch of the Union of Writers of Kazakhstan. His first two verse collections attracted attention from the literary community for their proud civic pathos. His next publication, 20 Ghasyrdyn 20 Sati (20 Moments of the 20th Century, 1984), was a reflection on the present and future of the world; Aksunkaruly revised and republished this in 2012. Since then, he has written many more titles, including a two-volume edition of his selected verses. His poems have been translated into numerous languages. He himself has translated poems by many Russian and Turkish writers and also Asian and African poets into Kazakh. Aksunkaruly is an Honoured Worker of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and a poet laureate of the International Alash Literature Prize.
Nesipbek Aituly is a poet. He has held senior editorial and managerial posts in newspaper and journal publishing and since 2001 he has worked for the Presidential Centre of Culture at the Eurasian National University. He is also editor-in-chief at the Altyn Tamyr magazine. He has written several collections of verses and is renowned for his long poems, which are highly regarded and have won national poetry contests multiple times. He has also authored epic poems dedicated to well-known Kazakh historical figures and events. His Kazakh translations include selections from numerous foreign works. He is a poet laureate of the State Prize of Kazakhstan, an Honorary Worker of the Republic of Kazakhstan and a recipient of the order Parasat.
Bakhytzhan Kanapyanov is a Kazakh poet, translator, screenwriter, and film director. After publishing his first poems he worked as an editor and screenplay writer at the Kazakhfilm, studio where he wrote screenplays for over twenty films. On moving to publishing he became a senior editor and literary consultant and is currently editor-in-chief of two literary anthologies. During his prolific career as a poet he has attracted controversy, falling out of favour with the Communist Party apparatus for a poem in which he criticised the USSR’s policies. As a translator he has helped popularise Turkic poetry for Russian speakers. As a social activist he famously visited the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant immediately after the accident; the resultant poem won the Lenin Komsomol Prize (Kazakh SSR). His contributions to the arts and social activism have gained him the title Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan.
Lyubov Shashkova is a poet. She has worked for various literary and creative organisations and has been deputy editor-in-chief of the Prostor journal since 2003. She has published ten poetry collections and a collection of stories based on true events. The major motif of her verses is the beauty of Kazakh and Belorussian landscapes. Her Hraniteli Ognia (Keepers of the Fire) creates portraits of major figures of contemporary Kazakh literature and culture. She has also published a collection of her translations of works by members of the Kazakh intelligentsia of the early 20th century, banned in the USSR, from Kazakh into Russian. Her works have been published in several countries and have featured in Chinese, Ukrainian, and Russian literary anthologies. She has been awarded the order Qurmet, the medals Eren Enbegi Ushin and 20 Years of Independence and various international awards, and is an Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan.
Tynyshtyqbek Abdikakimuly is a poet. He has worked for various creative arts organisations over the years. He wrote his debut poems when he was fourteen, but published them in national papers in his thirties. Later he published several collections of verses and two volumes of Qas Saq Anqymasy (The Knowledge-Revelation from God about the Pure Scythians). Literary scholars consider him a representative of intellectual poetry for his erudite, ornate style and daring linguistic experiments. In his works, he tries to analyse ancient cosmic principles through the unique prism of a Kazakh worldview. His poems have been translated into Spanish, Chinese, and Kyrgyz. He has won numerous awards including the Aibergenov Literary Prize, the Grand Prix of the countrywide poetic competitions and the State Prize of Kazakhstan. He has been awarded the medal Eren Enbegi Ushin and the State Scholarship in Literature.
Yesenqul Jaqypbek was a poet and composer. He worked for various cultural and mass media organisations and was editor-in-chief of the newspaper Atameken. He gained recognition as an improvisator-poet when he won several aitys (traditional poetry contests) including the first televised competition. His verses featured in a collection of young Kazakh poets and he published several individual volumes and a two-volume collection of selected poems. He initially tried to revive forgotten Kazakh folklore traditions in poetry and some of his later works are considered fine examples of philosophical-meditative reflections of life and death. Zhakypbekov is also acclaimed as an author of popular terme, a genre of lyrical poem-moralite in Kazakh folk art that weds verse and melodic compositions together. He was awarded the medals Eren Enbegi Ushin, 10 Years of Independence and 20 Years of Independence as well as the State Scholarship in Literature.
Ulugbek Yesdaulet is a poet and public figure. He worked within media and creative arts before taking charge at the departments of several important government ministries. He has been editor-in-chief of major literary periodicals and is currently the Secretary of the Writers’ Union of Kazakhstan. He is a member of the State Commission for awarding the State Prize. He has published several poetry collections along with his collected works in six volumes and his poetry has been translated into three languages. He is also the author of the text of the anthem of the Semey-Nevada anti-nuclear movement and of a number of popular modern Kazakh songs. Yesdaulet’s awards include the State Prize of Kazakhstan, the International Alash Literature Prize, the order Qurmet and the Gold Yesenin Medal (Russia). He is an Honoured Figure of Kazakhstan.
Yessengali Raushanov is a poet and translator. He has held senior positions at several journals and now runs the Jazushy publishing house. He has published numerous poetry collections. His poem ‘Qara Bauyr Qasqaldaq’ has become an anthem for young Kazakhs, who rose up against Russian dictatorship in 1986. His poetry is distinctive because of the way he absorbs Kazakh folklore naturally into his poetry, with ancient motives deriving from epic story-tellers. His verses have been translated into seven languages. Raushanov has also written a novel, and his ornithological essay collection has been translated into Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz. He has translated a book of poems by Uzbek poet Khamza Niyazi into Kazakh. He is a poet laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Alash International Prize and the Literary Festival held in Moscow in 1989. He has also been honoured with the orders Qurmet and Parasat.
Svetqali Nurjan is a poet and literary translator. Having been employed as a machine operator and as a horseman he subsequently studied at Kazakh State University and worked on a youth magazine before becoming a cultural worker in Qaraghai district. Since 1995 he has headed the Mangystau Regional Art Centre. His debut verses were published in an anthology of young poets. Since then he has published several poetry collections as well as a three-volume selection of his works; a thirteen-volume edition of collected works is forthcoming. He has also translated European poetry into Kazakh. He has been awarded the Aibergenov Literary Prize, the State Youth Award Daryn, the order Qurmet andthe medal for Outstanding Achievements, and is a repeated recipient of the State Scholarship in Literature.
Gulnar Salykbay is a poet and literary translator. She has worked for various mass media and is editor-in-chief of the national TV Channel Qazaqstan. Her first poetry collection was published to great acclaim and two more followed. Her poems are considered a meticulous reflection of the depths of the human condition and her passion and linguistic experimentation mark her as a strikingly distinctive voice in contemporary Kazakh poetry. Her verses feature in national and international anthologies and two volumes have been published in China. She has translated poetry into Kazakh and her own poems have been translated into several languages. Salyqbay has won the State Prize of Kazakhstan, the Serper Prize of the Union of Youth of Kazakhstan, the International Alash Literature Prize, the Aibergenov Literary Prize, the Poetry Prize of the nationwide contest dedicated to the 150th Anniversary of Abai and the international Shyghys Shynary poetry competition.
Maraltai Raiymbekuly(Ybyrayimov) is a poet. He has worked for numerous mass media in senior editorial roles; he was deputy chairman of the Board of the Union of Writers of Kazakhstan and since 2018 has been deputy director of the National Book Chamber. He is also a member of the Board for Youth Policy. His poems have been published in literary newspapers since 1987. His first collection (of several) was awarded the Prize of Kazakhstani Union of Youth. He is acclaimed for creating otherworldly images out of the most banal surroundings and trivial events, and has been a strong influence on younger poets for the ambitious and unbroken spirit of his verses. Raiymbekuly has won many prizes, including the State Youth Award Daryn and the International Alash Literature Prize. He is a three-times holder of a Grant of the President of Kazakhstan.
Tanakoz Tolkynkyzy is a poet and journalist. She has worked in a range of mass media, and is currently a producer at the national TV Channel Qazaqstan. Her debut poems, published when she was eleven, won numerous literary contests among young poets. Since then she has appeared frequently in literary periodicals, securing her reputation as a striking emerging writer. Tolkynkyzy has published four collections. Her verses are regarded as a fine example of contemporary Kazakh poetry for their daring expression of the most intimate feelings common to many Kazakh girls, nevertheless underwritten in official Kazakh verse. She has translated poetry into Kazakh and edited the first anthology of Kazakh poets in Spanish and Azerbaijani. Her awards include the State Scholarship in Literature, the Dmitry Medvedev Russian Presidential Literary Scholarship and the Grand Prix of the Shabyt International Festival; she is also poet laureate of the international poetry contest Debut Dostastyghy.
Aliya Dauletbayeva is a poet who has worked in media for several years and is also an editor and director. She founded a young poets’ club with the aim of nurturing young talent. She has written two poetry collections and her poems have been included in two anthologies. A lyrical poet, she relies on the ancient traditions of epic jyrau poetry, searching for modern language and new images – uncommon sources for the poetry of the relatively young generation whom she represents. She has authored epic poems and has translated foreign verses and plays into Kazakh. Dauletbayeva has won the Shabyt International Festival dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Bauyrjan Momyshuly and is a laureate of several other poetry contests including the international Shyghys Shynary poetry competition.
Akberen Yelgezek is a poet and public figure. He has held senior positions at various administrative and arts organisations and established the literary newspaper Kentavr, website ult.kz and Qazaq Adebietin QoldauPublic Fund. He is the first deputy chairman of the Union of Writers of Kazakhstan. Yelgezek’s poems are distinguished by strikingly unusual images and surrealist expressions deriving from dreams and the subconscious rather than reason and logic. A key to many of his poems can be found in his autobiographical tale Bolmaghan Balalyq Shaq (The Childhood that Never Happened), published in 2014 to great acclaim. His verses have been translated into three languages and included in international anthologies. He has also translated the poetry of foreign writers into Kazakh. He has been awarded the SerperPrize of the Union of Youth of Kazakhstan and the State Youth Award Daryn, as well as the Altyn Qalam Public Prize.
Nazira Berdaly(Nazira Qamash) is a poet and journalist. She has worked as an editor in radio and television and has gained popularity among her audiences as a presenter on national television. She is currently head of the TansholpanArts Association at the TV and Radio Corporation Qazaqstan. Her debut poems were published in the Jambyl regional newspaper Aq Jol and were later included in a collection of works by young writers of the region. She has since published three poetry collections. Berdaly is the author of the lyrics for a number of popular songs. She has won the Aibergenov Literary Prize and is a recipient of the State Scholarship in Literature.
Bauyrzhan Karagyzuly is a Kazakh poet. He has worked in newspaper and journal publishing and for the National Academic Library and has been advisor to the Ministry of Culture and Sport of the Republic of Kazakhstan since 2018. He has published collections of poems and his work has been included in seven anthologies. Karagyzuly has won a number of national poetry contests. He is a poet laureate of the second degree diploma and has been awarded the Grand Prix of the Shabyt International Youth Festival, and the Qazaqstan Patrioty medal.
Yerlan Junis is a poet and literary translator. He has worked at two literary newspapers and is currently an editor at the JetisuAlmaty regional TV channel. His first poetry collection was published when he was still at school and was followed by several more. Junis’s lyrical verses are highly regarded by his literary colleagues for their unexpected surrealist images and their sincere, yet aristocratic expression of the human emotions. He has also translated a number of world classics from Russian and Persian into Kazakh. He has won a number of awards, including national and international poetry contests and the Grand Prix of the Shabyt International Youth Festival.
Shomishbay Sariyev (Shalqar Sarin) is a poet.He studied journalism and has held posts as editor of the publishing house Kazakhstan and head of the literary criticism and poetry departments at Juldyz journal. He has published several collections of poems, as well as a two-volume selection of works. He has also written the lyrics for more than 300 songs. His poems have been translated into ten languages and he has translated the works of many foreign writers into Kazakh. In addition, he has published two monographs on Kazakh poetry in his capacity of senior research fellow at the Auezov Institute of Literature and Art. Sariyev has been awarded the Franz Kafka Prize, the Platinum Tarlan award and the order Parasat, and he is an Honoured Figure of Kazakhstan
Dr Chris McNab is a writer, editor and publishing project manager, specialising in literary, cultural and historical subjects and in educational publishing. With an academic background in literature and history, he has authored over 120 works for markets ranging from children to academics. He has also contributed dozens of articles, chapters and features to literary journals, encyclopaedias, magazines, newspapers and websites. A specialist in educational publishing, Chris has developed major textbook series for primary and secondary markets and has also delivered training to international organisations in publishing skills and management. In this capacity he has worked in the Middle East, East Asia and Central Asia, especially in Kazakhstan, where he has trained authors, editors and publishers, within the context of NIS primary, secondary and languages textbook programmes. Chris has also appeared in TV documentaries and frequently contributes to local and regional radio.
Kasia Trojanowska is a copy-editor based in London. She has an MA in English literature and linguistics and is an Advanced Professional Member of the UK Society for Editors and Proofreaders. She has worked as a copy-editor and proofreader for a number of organisations and individual authors, counting the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Health Foundation, De Gruyter and the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences among her clients. She has edited monographs, essay collections and journal papers in subject areas ranging from mental health to social sciences to literary criticism. Kasia has a keen interest in literature in translation, both as a reader and as an editor, and a passion for the English language.