Jin-ku #1: 13/9/18

Jin-ku is my own invention. It is an adaptation of the haiku form: the traditional Japanese poem that is comprised of 17 syllables in three lines of five, seven, five.

In haiku, one tradition is to tell without telling (a Zen-sounding phrase, and haiku are influenced by Zen), especially in relation to the natural world. There are so few words to express what you want to say, but this restriction is transformed in the challenge and the beauty of alluding to a season or natural event obliquely, sparsely, carefully and with great focus. It may be wasteful in such a short poetic form to use the word ‘summer’, when you can write about the blackcurrants that only fruit in summer.

Here is a haiku by the Japanese master of the form, Matsuo Basho (1644-1694):

In the twilight rain

these brilliant-hued hibiscus —

A lovely sunset.

So what is a jin-ku?

A jin-ku is even more restrictive than a haiku. (It is important that the ‘jin’ is strongly pronounced.) ‘Jin’ is the Kurdish word for ‘woman’. ‘Ku’ is a slang word for ‘friend’ (not in Kurdish -I don’t know the origins). ‘Jin’ resonates strongly with me as a feminist, as Kurdish women are leading the way for women in the Middle East. See my earlier post on the revolution in northern Syria.

To make friends of women means, not to oppress them, and to become as self-aware as possible about strains of patriarchy that exist within us even as the most enlightened of men and women. This is not to say that toxic matriarchy doesn’t also exist.

The jin-ku form is comprised of only 13 syllables. 13 because all the haiku masters were men. They had the relative freedom of expression of 17 syllables, whereas the women of their time are relatively obscured. Thus by ’13’ -also representing the 13 moons of the year; the banished natural rhythms of Earth and of women; that number made ‘unlucky’ by patriarchy -women, gender rebels and male allies can show that beauty in poetic form can flower under even stricter conditions than the haiku.

Just as women have been forced to express their truth in highly restricted circumstances throughout much of history, so the highly restricted jin-ku form can bear the most telling and profound fruit, and be a site of poetic resistance to patriarchy.

Women, gender rebels and male allies are free to write jin-ku, but a jin-ku (the singular and the plural use the same description) to be truly a jin-ku must:

  1. allude to patriarchy and / or the liberation and self-governance of women
  2. continuing the tradition of haiku, be rooted in nature

The 13 syllables can be divided into various forms. This is something to play around with. In my first public jin-ku, I have gone for a 5,7,3 structure:

The wild stream

still reaches God machines’ noise 

-drown Him here

If you would like to write some jin-ku and send them to me, I will publish them here on my blog on the 13th of the month. I reserve the right to offer editorial suggestion before publishing.

I hope that together we can build a tradition of jin-ku that will one day overtake and supersede the haiku tradition that has been dominated by men.

Rojava Internationalist Commune launches ‘Make Rojava Green Again’; northern Syria ecology project

In defiance of the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, the Internationalist Commune of the regional autonomous zone of Rojava in northern Syria, led by the Kurds, has launched its plan to regenerate the ecology of the region.

The Rojava region of northern Syria, despite relatively little coverage from the international press, and amidst one of the most horrific warzones of modern times, has successfully pioneered a feminist experiment in direct democracy.

Now, the ‘Make Rojava Green Again’ initiative intends to develop the so-called ‘third pillar of the revolution’, where the first two pillars have been direct democracy by street assembly, and equal involvement of women in all levels of decision-making -as well as in some places, all-female villages, educational institutions, police units and defense units.

The Make Rojava Green Again initiative would like to hear from journalists and ecology groups internationally who would like to publicise and partnership with their work.

Please contact me to learn more about solidarity for the revolution in northern Syria and if you would like to be forwarded the Make Rojava Green Again document. For more on Internationalist Commune Rojava go here.

The Children at the Heart of Everything -dedicated to Afrin’s children -may they be spared

This is the third part of a three-part series. The first two parts were published on my Facebook page: The Boy at the Beginning of Time and The Girl in the Middle of Time

@singingbones @wordandsilence

The Children at the Heart of Everything

The boy Sunshine and the girl Pain had travelled across Europe and down into the African continent, to meet with the dream-teller of the river Zaire.

The dream-teller’s hut was guarded by two gorillas, and fruit bats hung from the roof inside. Sunshine was too bright to be scared, and Pain was too strong.

When the children were sat in the hut with the dream-teller, the dream-teller asked,  ‘Why have you come to this place; this place where all human stories began, and where all will end?’

‘I had a dream about Remembering’ said Pain.

‘And you want to know what it means’ replied the dream-teller…’So tell me of this dream’.

‘Well,’ began Pain, ‘I dreamt that people all over the world were starting to Remember; to Remember that women and wild animals and plants are all equal to men; and also that men are equal to plants and wild animals and women. I dreamt that my friend Sunshine, who you see before you now, went up into the sky and replaced the Sun. He shone down with a pure love -not like the old Sun, but he was lonely there.’

After listening to Pain’s dream, the dream-teller was quiet for some time. She chewed on some leaves which she had in a bowl next to her, and spat on the ground. Every now and again she threw some berries, from another bowl, up into the air, where the fruit bats would catch them in their jaws. Finally, she spoke:

‘Your dream is of the Great Remembering and it is not only a dream. It is something that is beginning to happen right now. You, Pain, and you, Sunshine, are the prophets of the Remembering. But you must understand that no time and no place is ever perfect. The Great Remembering is truly not of a past perfect time, it is of all within us that is good, from all times. The Great Remembering is when all the stories ever told will be interwoven into one grand story…a story so great and so special that all will be happy to be characters in the story, because all beings will live healthily ever after in equality.’

‘I love you, dream-teller, and I love you, Pain, but what shall we do now?’ asked Sunshine.

‘Now you must remember what it is to be a girl, Sunshine, and although you are a girl, Pain, you must remember what it is to be a boy. For really, the soul of girls is in boys too, and the soul of boys is in girls too.’

‘Pain, I Remember you are cool and refreshing, stiller than a rock, dark and able to run in the dark’ said Sunshine.

‘Sunshine, I Remember you are warm and loving, harder than a rock, light and able to fly to great heights’ said Pain.

Then the dream-teller stood up with tears in her eyes.

She said, ‘Now you must go in the world to where the Remembering is strongest, and inspire the children there. Because where the Remembering is strongest, is also where the Forgetting, the old ways of pain and violence, are very strong too. The Forgetting must not be victorious in its war against the Remembering!’

‘But where is this place of war to which we must travel?’ asked Sunshine.

‘Its name is Afrin, in the land of Rojava -land of Remembrance. In the region that some call The East of Middle. There you will be protected from the guns and bombs of the Forgetting, by my spell of peacefire. You will walk amongst the children in the villages. You will make even stronger the story of Remembering that is happening there.’

Pain kept quiet, for she saw even further than the dream-teller. She saw that the quest of herself and Sunshine would not end in Afrin. It would not end until the Remembering had spread across the region of the East of Middle; until all boys and all girls had Remembered, and could not become Forgetful, hate-filled adults. This is the where the real story begins…