I Have Come Through Torments Within These Walls by Annasoltan Kekilova (tr. James Womack)

a nutshell: this devastating poem was written by Soviet-era poet & dissident Annasoltan Kekilova in a Turkmen psychiatric hospital, where she had been detained since 1973 after she advocated for women’s rights in Turkmenistan

a line: “I am tainted and would clean myself, but it is futile”

an image: it felt to me like the poet’s repetition of “within these walls” powerfully conveyed a sense of the suppression she had so long endured – walled off by both the institution and by the Central Committee of the USSR Communist Party

a thought: I found this poem completely heart-breaking, particularly with the knowledge that Kekilova died due to forcible medical treatment while still detained; she was only 41 years old at her death

a fact: Kekilova’s poems were smuggled out to her mother and son, though many were lost and a house fire destroyed much of her writing – I learned more about her life & work through this article

want to read more of Kekilova’s poetry? visit here

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