Project description

Classical Kurdish poetry rests, for the most part, on quantitative metrics (‘aruz). Having withstood even the most significant alternatives brought forth in the course of the modernization of Kurdish poetry in the 20th century, quantitative metrics still remains in use today. Yet, metrics is not merely an indispensable tool for reading classical and modern Kurdish verse alike; it is also an invaluable instrument of literary analysis. What is more, metrics constitutes a unique editorial device, often serving as the ultimate touchstone to establish the text – or amend existing editions – of poetic divān-s.

With the development of Kurdish studies within an increasing number of Universities and research institutions in the West, the lack of a reference work on Kurdish metrics is making itself more pressingly felt. It is the purpose of this project to fill the gap.

The current project aims to produce an English-language reference book on classical Kurdish metrics, inclusive of the two principal branches of literary Kurdish: Kurmanji and Sorani. It will provide a comprehensive presentation of meters and model verses in use in both languages, and all examples will be adduced in Latin as well as Arabic script. A separate section will be devoted to the recent developments underwent by traditional quantitative metrics in modern and contemporary Kurdish poetry.
Too often, modern editors of Kurdish poetry tend to overlook metrics for the proper establishment of the text. As a result, one is left with unreliable editions bearing mistakes and unsound readings in exceedingly high numbers. In many such cases, metrics alone can bring the solution, as we will demonstrate in one specific chapter, based on exemplary case-studies drawn from recent editions of Kurdish poetic works.
As is well known, quantitative Kurdish metrics is derived from the traditional Arabic system of ‘aruz. Yet, the two can be said to differ in more ways than one. The last chapter of the book surveys the connections between quantitative Kurdish metrics and its Arabic and Persian counterparts. Embracing a historical perspective, it provides a general overview of the ways by which quantitative metrics once came to be adopted in Kurdish.

Project leader

Dr. Amr Taher Ahmed


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