On the 8th October 2016 I met Choman Hardi. She was reading her poetry at the Winchester Poetry Festival. Then I felt my skin prick and my breath stop.

She was born in Iraqi Kurdistan. Her family  fled to Iran, returning to Iraq when she was 5 years old, only to flee again when the Kurds were attacked with chemical weapons. She is a poet of distinction writing about war, women, political and personal trauma.

This is verse 1, 4 and 5 from her poem  from ‘Life for us’ published by Bloodaxe Books, 2004

Our war

Everything was destroyed by others

and we destroyed what they left behind –

I killed your noon, you killed my night.


I can’t remember what others took

but I remember your stealing my eyes

and hiding them in a tin full of darkness.


Because everyone was others I forgot

but because you were me I could not.