My throat, unable to speak, will die
For the sounds of my homeland.
My ancestors’ patter will vanish
Like water into sand.
I am a storyteller of immortality
In Semitic and Etruscan tongues;
I am the dust of Turkic dialects
Writing in Russian.
Many lives’ twisted fates
Are lost inside me, mourning,
And I myself am a naked tangle of nerves
Pulsating with verses.
— Aron Atabek
(Translated by Alfia Nakipbekova and Niall McDevitt)
Aron Atabek was sentenced to 18 years in prison for protesting the demolition of the shantytown Shanyrak by Kazakh authorities.