Jalal Rahimi Malakshan known as Jalal Malaksha (19 March 1952 – 31 October 2020) was a Kurdish poet, writer, journalist, critic, socio-political activist and a member of the Writers’ Association of Iran. He received his diploma in Persian literature, but he couldn’t continue his education due to his political activities and sequential imprisonment.
At an early age, Malaksha began to write ambitiously and quickly succeeded in leaving his mark on the Kurdish and Persian literature. He is one of the most famous and influential figures of modernism in Kurdish poetry in Kurdistan and his largely mythical language in Kurdish modern poetry and the Kurdistan resistance poetry ushered in a new stage.
Apart from poetry, Malaksha has left numerous and remarkable works in the fields of fiction, journalism, criticism, and translation. Some of his poems have been translated into English, French, Swedish, Russian, Arabic, and Persian etc.
At his early years of writing Kurdish poetry, Malaksha was influenced by several prominent Kurdish poets such as Abdullah Goran, Latif Helmat, Abdullah Pashew, and Sherko Bekas. Also, among the Persian poets, Nima Yoshij, Mehdi Akhavan Sales and Ahmad Shamloo were particularly influential on his writing style.
Malaksha struggled with a chronic illness for many years and finally passed away from heart attack on 31 October 2020 and was buried in Malekshan village near Sanandaj next to his father and ancestors.
CAREER AND LITERARY WORKS
• Poetry and fiction
Jalal Malaksha became interested in poetry and writing at an early age and began writing as a child. As he puts it, he composed his first poem when he was a fourth-grader. It was a eulogy for the death of a neighbor’s girl who fell ill and died due to poverty and deprivation of medical care.
In his early youth, Malaksha began to write poetry more maturely and began composing in Persian. His political views and writing and literary activities were formed and developed under the influence of the left movement that dominated the intellectual circles of the time. His Persian poetry career was mainly influenced by Nima Yoshij, Mehdi Akhavan Sales, and Ahmad Shamloo.
Malaksha began writing in his native language at the time of the popular uprising against the Iranian monarchy regime in 1979, and for years to come he reached fame and popularity as a poet and writer. Initially, his Kurdish poetry was influenced by Abdullah Goran, Latif Helmat, Abdullah Pashew, and Sherko Bekas. At the time, Suwara Ilkhanizada (Kak Suwara), Fateh Sheykholeslami (Chawa), and Ali Hassaniani (Hawar) were among major figures of modernity in Kurdish poetry. They were followed by a new generation of poets, among whom many believe Malaksha was a shining star who managed to establish his own poetic style and surpassed many of his contemporaries.
Jalal can be considered the first modernist Kurdish poet to use the mythical language in Kurdish poetry and thereby ushering in a new stage for Kurdish poetry. Many of Malaksha’s poems as a whole or at least one of their episodes, are rooted in mythology.
After the suppression of the Kurdish nation uprising by the new Iranian regime, Malaksha did not leave his homeland and his people alone. Since then, three themes have been the main focus and inspiration of his thoughts and poems and he has led his literary life on three different but related paths. First, the social path: in the sense that poetry for him is not merely a personal tendency and desire. Second, the national path: in the sense that he deeply believes that his nation is facing an existential threat. This is why the interest in the homeland and the struggle for the liberation of the homeland become the most important and prominent themes of his poetry. Third, the path of humanity: that is, poetry must have the message of freedom, peace, and justice.
Due to the content of his poems against the dictatorship and the occupation regime in Kurdistan, Malaksha, with difficulty and in secret was able to publish for the first time in 2004 his first book of poetry titled Zirey Zencîrî Wişe Dîlekan (The Clank of the Chains of the Captive Words), which was well received and reached its second printing in less than a week.
In 2014, a book titled Jalal Malaksha’s Poetry Collection, containing two sections of Kurdish and Persian poetry was published underground which is known as Jalal Malaksha’s Divan. Due to its low quality and many typographical errors, the first edition of the book did not find approval with him. After the publication of this book, once again he was interrogated by the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Iran and faced numerous problems. But as usual, he did not give up his ideas and ideals and personally took over the work for refining the second edition of the book which was finally released in 2016 and was well received.
Malaksha, who began his career in writing poetry, embarked on writing stories in the prison of the monarchy regime. Most of his stories have been published in well-known magazines of the time. In 2013, a collection of Malaksha’s Kurdish stories, including 19 short stories, was published under the title of Karasat (disaster). Most of the stories published in Karasat had previously been published in Sirwa magazine. The rhythm of linear narrative and the use of symbolism and sometimes surrealism are prominent features of his style in story writing. Many of his works have not been published due to the severe censorship in Iran.
In 1966, the first poems of Malaksha were published in Persian in Omid-e Iran and Youth magazines. In the same year, a Persian poem of his, My City, was published in the Youth magazine, which was selected as the magazine’s top poem of the month. This experience marked the beginning of his connection with newspapers and magazines. After that, his poems, stories and translations from Kurdish into Persian were published in well-known Iranian newspapers and magazines of the time.
Malaksha’s first activity in the field of journalism dates back to early 1982 at the invitation of Mamosta Hemin Mukriani (Mohammad-Amin Shaikholislami) to work for Sirwa Magazine. Being just released from prison at the time, he moved to Urmia and worked for Salahuddin Ayoubi Publishing House as the editor-in-chief and the head of the poetry and literature section and was also responsible for responding to letters from the readers.
Unfortunately, the cooperation between Malaksha and Hemin Mukriani did not last long, as a few months later, Mamosta Hemin passed away. But even after this incident, Sirwa’s activities did not stop. For more than 14 years of his life, Malaksha along with such intellectuals as Ahmad Ghazi, Marif Aghaei, Parwiz Jahani, Karim Qayyumi, Faroq Kaykhosrawi and Aziz Kaykhosrawi, carried the heavy burden of continuing to publish Sirwa magazine and the books published by Salahuddin Ayoubi Publishing House.
Malaksha was so involved with Sirwa that he once said: “At that time, I loved Sirwa as a part of my being and I am sure that at that time, in all of Kurdistan, Sirwa was the hope of many Kurdish poets and writers.” Due to Jalal Malaksha’s good and extensive relations with poets, writers, and literary figures from across Kurdistan, Sirwa’s reach expanded considerably, both in terms of the number of readers and in terms of geography. Many believe that Sirwa Magazine was at its peak at that time and rendered a valuable service to the Kurdish language and literature.
After Sirwa, Malaksha retired from journalism for a while, until 1999 when Jam-e Jam newspaper in Urmia invited him for cooperation in its Kurdish special issue. He, almost single-handedly, prints about four issues of the special issue and makes every effort to build a bridge between the Kurds across Kurdistan. As a result, like many other publications in which he was active, the publication of this special issue was banned.
Malaksha, who is once again under pressure and persecution, leaves his hometown and goes to Hawler (Erbil), where he also wrote and collaborated in many publications and newspapers such as Hawler, Ashti, Aso, and Kurdistan, among others. Also, while in Erbil, he publishes Pirshing magazine, but its life was short and only five issues were published. This incident marked his last activity in the field of journalism and publications.
Due to his knowledge of Kurdish, Persian, and Arabic languages, Malaksha translated several important works including translation into Persian of the works of such prominent Kurdish poets as Sherko Bekas, Abdullah Pashew, Latif Helmat, and Johar Kirmanj. He has also translated several short stories from Kurdish to Persian and vice versa. In addition to his published translations, translations of several novels are also among his works that have not been published yet.
• Other Activities
Malaksha was also teaching and guiding young writers and poets at the Ahmad Khani Cultural Institute in Urmia. After returning to Sanandaj and settling there forever, he taught Kurdish at the Raje Kurdish Language Institute for a while.