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In Azerbaijan, Power and Poetry Mix

While Azerbaijan’s government has a reputation as being a petro-autocracy, behind the scenes a surprising number of officials in Baku have a softer, poetic side, including Javid Gurbanov (pictured here), chairman of state-run Azerbaijan Railways. (Photo: Azerbaijan Railways)

While Azerbaijan’s government has a reputation as being a petro-autocracy, behind the scenes a surprising number of officials in Baku have a softer, poetic side.
 
Consider these verses:
 
“Once upon a time,”
The world was a sad tale.
Its essence was a lie; its word was a lie
The world was a sad tale.
Its agony hadn’t tired me,
Its fire hadn’t burnt me,
I wouldn’t have believed
The world is such a sad tale.
(From The World Was a Sad Tale, 2010)
 
The author of this melancholic verse, Javid Gurbanov, comes from a long line of writers: his grandfather was the well-known folk poet Ashug Shamshir, and his father, Ganbar Gurbanov, was a poet with more than ten books to his name.
 
But the younger Gurbanov only pursues poetry as a hobby: in his day job he is the chairman of Azerbaijan Railways, a state-controlled transportation company.
 

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Durna Safarova is a freelance journalist who covers Azerbaijan.

In Azerbaijan, Power and Poetry Mix

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