Poetry has always been in the Kazakh blood, and Galym Mutanov is one of the newly independent nation’s leading poets, a shining light in the Kazakh literary world. In the range of his poetry, Mutanov truly captures the essence of the Kazakh spirit – from the tough and ageless traditions of the wild steppe to moments of tender intimacy. The measured Islamic wisdom and deep sense of morality so intrinsic to Kazakh life of old shines through in verse after verse.
The figure of Abai, the 19th century visionary, the deeply spiritual poet of the steppe, looms large over Kazakh poetry. Mutanov takes up the challenge that Abai threw down – to create verse that is both steeped in the Kazakh tradition of oral verse yet rises to a new clarity and spirituality relevant today.
Mutanov wrote originally in Kazakh, but many Kazakhs speak only Russian. So his poems were translated into Russian by leading poets Vladimir Buryazev and M. Adibaeva. It is these Russian versions that provided the source for John Farndon’s translations with Olga Nakston for this collection.
Galym Mutanov is not only a poet but something of a polymath. He is a hugely distinguished academic, with over 400 scientific papers to his credit, and currently rector of al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Alma-Ata. In 2013, his achievements were recognized in France by the award of a Chevalier L’Ordre des Palmes académiques.