Famous Kulager Poem Translated Into English


The famous poem Kulager, written by historical figure and Kazakh poet Ilyas Zhansugirov, is translated into English and published as a book.

The book is the first translation of the poem into English language.

Zhansugirov’s granddaughter, Zhanar Zhandossova said the process to translate Kulager took 10 years as there were many processes and checks that needed to be done.

“The most difficult part was to convey the meaning of certain Kazakh words. First we conducted a word-for-word translation and then we provided explanations for unclear words. We had a team of consultants to provide the explanations,” she said.

The team working on the translation of Kulager includes about 20 translators and consultants who are fluent in Kazakh and English.

The main translator of the poem is English poet and translator, Belinda Cooke. She also translated works written by famous Russian poets such as Pasternak, Mandelstam and Tsvetaeva.

Prior to the translation work, Belinda arrived in Kazakhstan to pay a visit to the grave of Akan Seri. She also went to Burabay and Zerendi to see the places where the events of the Kulager poem took place.

“She also tried kumyz and Kazakh meat, experienced Kazakh hospitality and climbed a mountain. The experience allows her to learn about the lifestyles of the Kazakh people,” Zhandossova said.

Meanwhile, chairperson of the Kazakh language and Turkic studies department at Nazarbayev University, Uli Schamiloglu said it is important to promote Kazakh works worldwide.

“I think that the best Kazakh novels and poems should be translated into English and other international languages,” he said.

The illustrations for Kulager book were created by Dauren Kasteyev, the grandson of famous Kazakh artist, Abilkhan Kasteyev.

The junior Kasteyev drew an image of a horse at the moment he heard about the book. The image is depicted on the cover of the book.


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