Uyghurland, the Farthest Exile
by Ahmatjan Osman
translated from the Uyghur and Arabic by Jeffrey Yang with the author
In Jeffrey Yang's collaborative translations from the Uyghur and Arabic, Uyghurland, The Farthest Exile collects over two decades of Ahmatjan Osman’s poetry. Osman, the foremost Uyghur poet of his generation, channels his ancestors alongside Mallarmé and Rimbaud to capture the sacred and philosophical, the ineffable and the transient, in a wholly unique lyric voice. Born in 1964, Osman grew up in Urumqi, the capital and largest city of East Turkistan. In 1982, he became one of the first Uyghur students to study abroad after the end of the Cultural Revolution, spending several years studying Arabic literature at Damascus University in Syria. Uyghurland is the first-ever collection of poetry to be translated from the Uyghur language into English.
“It is so calm and yet so powerful in the way it moves from light to night to light again. Its brilliance illuminates its Uyghur author and also enlightens me.” —Yang Lian
“The first opponent against tyranny of language in Uyghur poetry whom was exiled for freedom of the language that rebels against the atrophy of collective consciousness caused by linguistic control.” —Parhat Tursun, Uyghur poet and novelist
Ahmatjan Osman writes in both Uyghur and Arabic, and has also translated the work of numerous poets into Uyghur, such as Octavio Paz, Paul Celan, Fernando Pessoa, and Adonis. He is recognized as one of the founders and leading lights of the New Poetry movement that emerged in Uyghur literature in the 1980s. His own literary influences range from modernists like Paul Celan and the Syrian poet Adonis to classical Uyghur authors like the eighteenth-century Sufi poet Meshrep. He is the author of eight collections of poetry, published in Syria and Xinjiang.
Jeffrey Yang is the author of the poetry collections Vanishing-Line and An Aquarium. He is the translator of Liu Xiaobo’s June Fourth Elegies and Su Shi’s East Slope, and the editor of Birds, Beasts, and Seas: Nature Poems from New Directions and Time of Grief: Mourning Poems. Yang works as an editor at New Directions Publishing and New York Review Books.
Cover art by Stacey Irvin