Адыгэм я лъэпкъгъэкlуэд

a serbian migrant worker steps out

into the white

like the mediterranean sea
like the bitter turkish tobacco-covered russian earth where
no one of his yet lies
like the white tsar’s yatagan which they dreamed of biting with smoke-stained shot-through teeth
like the menstrual blood of his dead bosnian girl who always called herself

the ultimate virgin flesh of yugoslavia
a reminder that love power and God are ongoing


of the slavic sky over nevsky caddesi
and says in unaccented turkic for the first time:

come in dear guests and sit at my table
come into my house my doors are open
all who weren’t saved by the turkish sultan

Gel, gel, ne olursan ol yine gel,
İster kafir, ister mecusi, ister puta tapan ol yine gel,
Bizim dergahımız, ümitsizlik dergahı değildir,
Yüz kere tövbeni bozmuş olsan da yine gel
 . . .1

ar rahman nir raheem

how good to find oneself in a world
with a few genocides less

February 1, 2022, Antalya

“Come, come, whoever you are, come! Be you unfaithful, be you a fire-worshipper, be you an idol-worshipper, come all the same! Our cloister is not a home of hopelessness, You may have sinned a hundred times—come all the same.”—Abu Said Maihani, often attributed to Mevlânâ (Rumi)

2 “O God, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful (Arabic), if I die young, send me to heaven. I have already been in hell” (Croatian).

Translators' note: In the title, the Circassian muhajirun (Адыгэм я лъэпкъгъэкlуэд in Kabardian Circassian) refers to the forced migration (muhajir) of the Circassian/Cherkes people, as well as the related Abaz (Abazin, Abkhaz) and Ubykh people, to the Ottoman Empire during and after the end of the Caucasian War (1817–64). The Supreme Soviet of Kabardino-Balkaria in 1992 and the parliament of Adyghe in 1994 used the term “Circassian genocide” or “Tsitsekun.”

Ramil Niyazov-Adyljan is a Kazakh of Uyghur origin. He writes poetry and studies contemporary art, postcolonial studies, queer Sufism, and the steppe. He is originally from Almaty, Kazakhstan, but is currently a student at St. Petersburg State University in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He is also a member of krёlex zentre and editor of Polutona.

Elina Alter is a writer and translator. Her translations include Alla Gorbunova’s It’s the End of the World, My Love and Oksana Vasyakina’s Wound. She lives in New York.

Hilah Kohen is a University of Pennsylvania doctoral student currently in residence at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. Her collaborations in Juhuri (Kavkazi Jewish) language advocacy include curatorial work for the Jewish Language Project and an article foregrounding Indigenous languages of the Russian Federation for Russian Language Journal. With Josephine von Zitzewitz, Kohen co-edited the “Russophonia” issue of Words Without Borders.

Ainsley Morse teaches in the Russian department at Dartmouth College and is a translator of Russian, Ukrainian, and former Yugoslav literatures. Her research focuses on the literature and culture of the postwar Soviet period, particularly unofficial or “underground” poetry, as well as contemporary russophone poetry, East European avant-gardes, and children’s literature.

Elaine Wilson is a writer, literary translator, language instructor, and PhD candidate in the Department of Slavic Languages at Columbia University. She lives in New York City.