Turkmenistan president makes poetic debut

ASHGABAT, TURKMENISTAN- The leader of isolated Turkmenistan has grabbed the headlines in the ex-Soviet state by publishing his first poem, a brief ode singing the praises of his energy-rich homeland.
The four-verse poem titled "Forward, only forward, my dear country Turkmenistan" was published on the front page of every state newspaper, along with a large smiling portrait of President Gurbanguly Berymukhamedov.

This is the first venture into poetry by the 58-year-old president, a former dentist, who has previously written 15 books on race horses, medicine and Turkmen art.
His books are sold in all the country's bookstores and have been translated into foreign languages.
He is following in the footsteps of predecessor Sapurmurat Niyazov, who was a prolific poet, writing verses extolling a mix of nationalism, Turkmen tradition and the virtues of his own deceased parents.
Composers set Niyazov's lines to music and singers were obliged to incorporate the songs into their repertoire.
Berdymukhamedov dismantled some of Niyazov's bizarre cult of personality, which included renaming months of the year after family members but critics say his stabs at reform have been little more than window dressing.
Berdymukhamedov's first poem was read aloud on Sunday at the opening of a museum dedicated to the Turkmen national poet, Magtymguly Pyragy.
"The audience gave a standing ovation to the poetic anthem to our dear Fatherland," wrote state newspaper Turkmenistan on Tuesday.
The listeners "experienced a surge of high emotion and patriotic feelings," it added.
A culture ministry official said the poem "will definitely become the basis for a patriotic song."
The poem begins "O beloved country, you are friendship and spring," saying that for Turkmen people, "life is lit up with happiness, these are the times we are in!"
"It is always going forward, the heroic people," the poem says, echoing rhetoric of the Soviet era.
Berdymukhamedov has already published poems by his father and grandfather and last year the country's leading music school held a competition for young composers who had arranged the verses to music.
The president in 2011 made a video of himself singing a self-penned love song called "For you, my white flowers" and strumming a guitar.
He has also inaugurated an annual horse beauty show to showcase Turkmenistan's elite Akhal-Teke breed, and his own horsemanship skills, although the event ended in confusion in 2013 when Berdymukhamedov fell off his horse after winning a race.

Wednesday, October 21st 2015

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