Collaboration with Kurdish Communities in Wales

Wales PEN Cymru Civil Society Programme Project 2018

Wales PEN Cymru supports Kurdish Linguistic Rights


Standing Together/Efo’n Gilydd/ Pia Vınderime/ Piştgiriye

A night of song, legend and poetry, in Kurdish and in Welsh.

This performance, held at Chapter Arts Centre on June 26th, was part of a Wales PEN Cymru project to support Kurdish linguistic rights. Ali Sizer, singer in the Kurdish dengbej tradition and saz player, had been working alongside a group of women from the Kurdish Community Centre in Newport. They performed traditional Kurdish stories and poems. Ali Sizer also performed and was joined by Geraint Rhys (Welsh singer/songwriter) and Clare E. Potter (poet). This was a truly inspiring evening in Kurdish, Welsh and English of songs, folk tales and poetry, demonstrating our shared struggle for linguistic rights.

Noson dairieithog o ganeuon, chwedlau a barddoniaeth yn yr iaith Gwrdeg a’r Gymraeg

Roedd y perfformiad hwn, a gynhaliwyd yng Nghanolfan Chapter ar Fehefin 26ain, yn rhan o brosiect Wales PEN Cymru i gefnogi hawliau ieithyddol Cwrdaidd.  Bu Ali Sizer, canwr yn y dull Cwrdaidd traddodiadol dengbej a chwaraewr saz, yn cydweithio hefo grŵp o ferched o’r Gymuned Gwrdaidd yng Nghasnewydd.  Perfformiwyd straeon a cherddi Cwrdaidd traddodiadol ganddynt.  Bu Ali Sizer hefyd yn perfformio ac ymunodd Geraint Rhys (canwr/cerddor Cymraeg) a clare e. potter (bardd) ag ef.  Roedd hon yn noson wir ysbrydoledig o ganeuon, straeon gwerin a barddoniaeth yn y Gwrdeg, y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg ac ’roedd yn tanlinellu’r ymdrech ar y cyd dros hawliau ieithyddol.

Ali Sizer is a Kurdish/Alevi (Qizilbash) dengbej (bard singer), narrator, poet, musician, TV and radio personality.    He writes and composes music  largely in  Kurdish (Kurmanci), as well as in Turkish, in Alevi/Qizilbash tradition. Ali describes himself as  servant of humanity and describes his musical style as mystic  Sufi. Ali says that all his efforts in life are devoted to the oneness of humanity.
clare e. potter is a Welsh speaking poet and performer who lived in Louisiana and Mississippi (where she did an MA in Afro-Caribbean Literature), and works on collaborative community projects with other artists. She believes everyone has a story worth telling and we all become richer from listening to one another speak and sing. @clare_potter
Geraint Rhys merges social commentary with personal experience in songs which touch on subjects as diverse as the war in Syria, the recent Catalan revolution, the Port Talbot steel crisis and the future of the Welsh language. Geraint’s music has been played on radio stations throughout the UK and abroad.
I am Ayşe Altun, I have been living in Wales for 19 years, past 10 years in Cardiff. I am a single mother to a daughter called Berfin (17) and a son Burak (19).  Kurmanji Kurdish is my mother tongue but I can speak Kurdish languages of Zazaki, Sorani and Gorani too. I am not literate in any of these languages. As a Kurdish woman I feel myself close to Welsh people. I am proud of my Kurdish identity.

Ayse will sing Malan Barkir with Guley Yoldas Brennan and Ali Sizer.

I am Ayşe Goçer. I have been living in Newport, Wales for 13 years. I have two sons, Eren and Arda, and a daughter called Damla. My mother tongue is Kurdish. I am proud to be Kurdish.

Ayse will sing Oy Oy Ate with her friends.

I am Fatma Çagış, I am married, and I have one son called Tahir (17). I live in Newport, Wales for 10 years. Kurdish is my mother tongue. I can speak it however I cannot read or write in Kurdish. It is my wish that all mother tongues can be used freely.

Fatma will sing Oy Oy Ate with her friends.

I am Esra Bulut. I have been living in Wales for 5 years. I am married and mother to a 17 year old daughter called Simge. My mother tongue is Kurdish. I am very happy to be living in Wales. I see a lot of similarities between Welsh and Kurdish people.

Esra will sing Oy Oy Ate with her friends.

I am Hatice Akbulut, I am married and mother of 3 daughters. I have been living in Cardiff, Wales for 12 years. I am part of this event to represent my language Dersimce (the dialect of Zazaki language spoken in Dersim).  I wish that all the Kurds and other language groups in Turkey can speak their languages freely.

Hatice will read a Zazaki text in Dersim dialect to introduce the klam ‘Şüara Piluné Désimi’.

I am Güley Yoldaş Brennan. I have been living in Newport, Wales for 10 years. I am married and mother to a son.  As someone who loves nature I love living in Wales. In addition to that I appreciate experiencing my identity as a Kurdish woman without oppression in Wales.

Guley will sing Malan Barkir with Ayse Altun and Ali Sizer.

I am Sibel Şir. I have lived in Cardiff, Wales for 15 years. I have three beautiful daughters, Hazal (15), Melek (11) and Mira (1). My family is originally from Dersim and of Zaza ethnic origin. I grew up in the nearby city of Erzincan. I am proud of my origins and my language.

Sibel will sing the Zazaki klam ‘Şüara Piluné Désimi’ solo.

I am Şengül Killi, I am 46 years old, married and mother of two sons, Tacim and Sinan. I have been living in Newport, Wales for 10 years. My mother tongue is Kurdish, I speak Kurdish, but I cannot read and write in Kurdish. I wish my language to be more widely used.

Şengül will sing Oy Oy Ate with her friends.

I am Zeynep Fırat. I have been living in the UK for 20 years, past 10 years in Wales.  I am married and I have two children, Yezda (9) and Berzan (4). Kurdish is my mother tongue, I speak Kurdish, but I am not literate in Kurdish.  I wish for Kurdish to be a free language. I am proud to be Kurdish.

Zeynep will sing Oy Oy Ate with her friends

Gwrandewch ar bodlediad o’r digwyddiad / Listen to the podcast of the event

The event can also be followed from the booklet (pdf) or the text on the website.

First Public Event with the Kurdish Community in Newport, February 4th, 2018

WPC organised its first public event with the Kurdish Community Centre in Newport on the 4th of February 2018 and the event attracted some 70+ members of the Kurdish community

  • WPC’s project to date, future collaborations and events were discussed
  • Ali Sizer delivered a speech in Kurdish, expressing the importance of speaking Kurdish and of teaching the next generation their mother tongue
  • Civanmerd Kulek read a part of his translation of the Mabinogion in the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish
  • Ali Sizer performed traditional Kurdish music

Workshop 1 for Kurdish women and children

March 14th, 2018

A workshop was held for women and children in the Kurdish Community Centre in Newport. The women talked about themselves and then told parts of old Kurdish stories in Kurmanji. A film of this is currently being edited and translated.

Ali Sizer then joined the group and sang Kurdish songs with the participants.


Feedback from Kurdish women in Wales

Rehersals for Standing Together event




“My name is Ayse, its been 13 years I lived in Wales. There are many Kurdish people here, we always gather together, meet, speak in Kurdish and we sing together.

Last year we completed a project in few months, it went well, and we were happy.

Also, Pen Cymru helped, we all got together, we sang our song, there were many people. It was successful, and we were very happy.”



“Hello, my name is Esra, I live I Wales and I am Kurdish. We speak Kurdish and we have our own Kurdish Community Centre. We go and sit there together and sing our songs and say our stories. Pen Cymru introduced a new project to us, they told us to sing songs in our own home language, we accepted it. 5-6 ladies every week gathered together, sang songs together. We had our own teacher and we had a director; our project directors name was Filiz.

Afterwards, we were on stage, we sang our song, our song was good, everyone liked it. We spoke in our own home language because our home language is Kurdish. We couldn’t speak Kurdish in Turkey, we sang here in Wales our home language song.

I would like to thank Pen Cymru and our director.

Thank you!”



“Hi my name is Fatma. I live in Wales.

 Since last year we have been gathering regularly for our culture, our language and we were having discussions. Then Wales PEN approached us and said  we want to work with you about your culture, your language.  We asked how that can be? They said something that represent your culture and we decided to prepare traditional songs. We went on stage to perform. We wanted our children to say this is our mother tongue, our mothers prepared it. We went on a stage and it was really beautiful. We were very happy, we want to thank Wales PEN for giving us this opportunity. We also want to thank our friend Filiz who managed us, she worked hard and we had a really good dialog with our friends. That is all I wanted to say, thank you very much.”





“Hi, I am Hatice, I was very happy to be part of an event where my language Zazaki was represented. Thank you to Welsh PEN.”



“Hello, my name is Şengül, I have been living in Wales for 10 years now.  I am married, and I have two sons. There are a lot of Kurdish friends and Kurdish families here. Approximately for a year we have a Kurdish Community Centre here. Wales PEN approached us with a proposal to do a project together. Wales PEN is an international organisation.  We, women gathered, there were about 10 of us, we told traditional tales and sang songs in our language.  We were meeting every week for 3-4 months. We also had a tutor. We have never done anything like that before and our tutor was telling us off time to time but we concluded our project. After 3-4 months we finished our project. We then performed a concert,  English people came, Kurdish people came, Welsh people came. It was so very wonderful. It was sold out, no tickets were left. We were very happy that a lot of people listened to us. We hope that Wales PEN will do more projects with us.”





“Hello, my name is Zeynep, last year Pen Cymru organized a project for Kurdish women.

The aim of the project was to support Kurdish language and to introduce the Kurdish language to Wales.  Doing something in Kurdish language was very exciting because Kurdish language is not free to talk/communicate in.

We (group of Kurdish women) get together; we shared our stories and sang songs.

We then had an event where we sang in front of an audience. At the end of the evening we received a great feedback, everyone really enjoyed our show.

I was very happy and pleased with myself because my home language Kurdish was not free before. My children came to the show and watched me sang in Kurdish. Everyone liked our performance.”

Lluniau / Photos

Kurdish women rehearsing
















































Feedback sessions

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