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By Amina Sadaf
A collection titled "Uyghur Poems", edited and translated by Mr. Aziz Isa Elkun, a Uyghur poet and academic at SOAS University in London, is ready for publication by Penguin Publishing House in the UK and the USA, Uyghur Times Uyghur Edition reports.
Uyghur Times interviewed Mr. Elkun, who said that "the publication of the book is an opportunity to fight against the destruction of Uyghur culture and language in China, and the punishing of intellectuals working in the field of Uyghur culture and literature. China has closed Uyghur bookstores and publishing houses and banned the sale of Uyghur books."
" I believe that the publication of the book by a world-renowned publishing house is a good response to China's illegal activities and a positive sign for the Uyghurs", Mr. Elkun says. "Poetry is the essence of a language and the lifeblood of literature. This book contains everything from ancient poems to contemporary ones. It can be a perfect book to introduce Uyghur poetry to the world", Mr. Elkun continues.
The Penguin Publishing House is one of the oldest publishers in the UK since the British Empire. The circulation of this book is expected to be published by more than one million, and until now, it has not published any books by Uyghur or other Asian Turkic writers.
The Uyghurs in Central Asia have a long and glorious history of poetry, dating from the oral epics of the second century BCE through the elegant love poetry of the middle ages and up to the present. Most of it has never seen an English translation, the Publishing house says on its website.
"Uyghur poetry reflects the magnificent natural landscapes of the Uyghurs' homeland for two millennia, with endless steppes, soaring mountain ranges, and vast deserts. The turbulent history of the Uyghur people, often caught between warring empires or marauding warlords, has also influenced Uyghur literature, as have the Turkic, Sufi, and Persian cultures and the modernism of the twentieth century."
The Chinese regime has targeted Uyghur writers and scholars, imprisoning intellectuals. Many current Uyghur poets are these days writing from exile, including the editor and translator of this volume, Aziz Isa Elkun, who lives in London.
Source: (last three paragraphs) Penguin Random House