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138 pages: Poems from Rojava

July 8th 2022


Written during the three years Matt Broomfield spent living and working in the autonomous, Kurdish-led region of Syria known as Rojava, these poems paint a unique picture of the revolution there, from the inside out.


From Broomfield’s own place in the revolution as an ‘internationalist’ volunteer, to the future of the region in the face of war, this collection raises serious questions and seeks to capture the energy of Rojava, so often overlooked by the primary-coloured propaganda and grey criticism of our media. “The revolution is living, ugly, beautiful, writhing, self-contradictory, hopelessly compromised, and utterly worth fighting for.”


“What Broomfield achieves in ‘brave little sternums ‘ is poetry capable of reaching into volatile spaces while being politically charged and uncomfortable. His voice carries an urgency found only in the writing of witness - erudite, inventive and radical.”

- Anthony Anaxagorou


“In these poems there is a human cry that is deeper than war or friendship alone. Broomfield has a precise pen, delicate emotions, and a deep love of people. He refuses to accept war, the occupation of nature, looting or destruction. As one enters into these poems, one sees a search for what is precious, the growth of nations, a desire for happiness, peace, equality and a world for everyone. These poems were written during Broomfield’s time in our country, where he decorated each moment with golden words. Each poem expresses a different moment in the revolution, each word returns to comradeship, and this book will be a gift to history. Broomfield’s pen is precious. His feelings even more so.” 
- Nergiz Ismail, poet from Rojava


“Like the Rojavan revolution he describes, Broomfield’s poems are alive and writhing, unsparing in self-analysis and honest about the complex realities of translating theory into governance. It’s clear that these poems were written on the ground, in community and conversation, and their reflection of that experience has given this reader a richer, more human understanding than any academic theorizing or factual reportage. ‘brave little sternums’ is not just literature about Rojava, it’s an essential contribution to the literature of Rojava, equally conversant with contemporary English and Kurmanji-language poetry.” 
- David Shook, poet and Kurdish translator


“Hard words about a terrible injustice: the continued oppression of the people of Rojava.” 
- Attila the Stockbroker, poet


“A series of lenses into a bruised world—where the land itself is sometimes fertilized with the teeth of the dead. The voice here is raw and unvarnished, with a shot of adrenaline burning on the tongue. You’ll find that beneath the cynic’s hard gaze is a deep and abiding love, one that arrives from the interior of history, one that speaks passionately about fundamental issues of justice and human dignity in verses so restless and disturbed the page can barely contain them.”       
- Brian Turner, author of Here, Bullet


Author’s note:

Readers who are not familiar with recent developments in Syria, Kurdistan and the Middle East may find useful the following brief summary of events in the region. Additionally, a glossary explaining terms, locations and references that may be unfamiliar follows the collection, along with a number of textual notes.

I believe, with Brecht, that introducing the reader to some specifics of a story (or poem) ahead of time will not limit their understanding to a particular interpretation; on the contrary, it will enable them to see and understand the material conditions which gave rise to a particular story, and thus to understand both these particularities, and how the content might be relevant to their own place and time. 

As Brecht says: “Only the lessons of reality can teach us to transform reality.”

This is a partisan history. In other words, it is a story. 


EBOOK: brave little sternums by Matt Broomfield


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