22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Apti Bisultanov

Apti Bisultanov was born in 1959 in Goitchu, a place near Urus Martan in Chechnya. He grew up like all Chechens, speaking the officially banned traditional language and Russian. His father, who returned home wounded from the Second World War, died early. Bisultanov no longer belongs to that generation of authors who were born during the deportation of Chechens (1944-1956) to Kasakhstan or Siberia and who predominantly write in the Russian language. His working language is Chechen.

He began writing very early and he had his first publications at the age of seventeen. From 1977 to 1982 Apti Bisultanov studied in the Faculty of Philosophy at the Chechen-Ingushetian State University in Grozny and afterwards he worked as a teacher. Since this period he has been publishing regularly in various literary magazines. In 1986 his first volume of poems appeared, “Nokh – tse – tcho” (t: plough – fire – house). The title has an association with “Nokhtchitcho” which means something like “Land of the Chechens”. The collection “Zkha Illy” (t: The song) followed in 1988. In the same year Bisultanov became editor for “Chechen Book Publishers” in Grozny. In 1991 his third volume of poems appeared: “Tkesan Indare” (t: Shadows of lightning). The poems here are dedicated to the victims of the deportation under Stalin. Those poems of lament, to which Bisultanov gives the general title “The Poems written in Chaibach”, also tell the story of the eight hundred inhabitants of the mountain village of Chaibach who, owing to a heavy fall of snow could not be deported, were herded into stables and burned to death. The poet received for this poem in 1992 the “Chechen Poeple’s Prize for Literature”. Apti Bisultanov’s poetic language combines philosophical and symbolic concepts with elaborate metaphors. In it the adoption and preservation of the Chechen language play an important role. His work moves thematically between the longing for the lost cultural roots of the homeland, for a quiet religiosity – Bisultanov belongs to the Sufi Order of the “Qaddirye” – and the denunciation of wrong to which his people have been exposed in the twentieth century. From the start the poet has given his support to the movement for independence. During the two Chechen wars which claimed more than a hundred thousand human victims and during which 80% of towns and villages were destroyed through bombing, Bisultanov, in line with Chechen tradition, did not take part in the fighting. As a poet he has to take upon himself the role of the “Illondcha” (singer, narrator) and bear testimony to events through his songs and poems. In Chechnya Bisultanov is acclaimed by the people as “Son of the Fathers of Chechnya” and as one of the most successful literary figures of his generation. Many of his poems have been set to music and translated into Russian, Turkish and Finnish. Apti Bisultanov is a member of the international P.E.N. Club and honorary member of the Russian-Finnish P.E.N. He has been living in Berlin since 2002, and in 2003 received an award from the Poets of All Nations Foundation. His collection of poems “Schatten eines Blitzes” (t: Shadows of lightning) appeared in 2004.

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