Two Poets and a River: Panel Discussion with Filmmaker

Event Format

Please join us for a conversation about Two Poets and a River with filmmaker Richard K. Wolf. Watch the film in person on Wednesday, March 23 at 5 p.m. EDT at the Main Lecture Hall at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts or online Thursday, March 24 through Monday, March 28.

Using the Oxus river as a topos, this film explores themes of love and loss through the lives and musical poetry of the two most prominent and innovative Wakhi musicians in Central and South Asia: Qurbonsho in Tajikistan and Daulatsho in Afghanistan. These two poet-singers share a common language, faith, and family network and yet remain separated by vicissitudes of the 19th c. Great Game in Central Asia. In this struggle for strategic control, the Wakhan homeland of the Wakhi people became a buffer zone between Czarist Russia and the British Empire, and the river Oxus, which became the border, ran right through the center of Wakhan.

After the modern nation-states of the USSR and Afghanistan shored up their boundaries circa 1930, the communities living along one side of the river were severed from their counterparts on the other side. The specific condition of being separated by a river in the region has been the basis for poetry about the feeling of separation (firāq) in Persian and Wakhi poetry more generally and thereby grounds the poets’ discussions of love and loss in their own lives as well as in their musical arts. The ethnomusicologist-filmmaker shot and produced the film over 2.5 years (2012-2020) with the editorial collaboration of both Qurbonsho and Daulatsho, who narrate the film in Wakhi, Tajik, and Dari.

For online film screening register here. For more information and a full event schedule, please visit Harvard University Asia Center's website.


Sponsored by the Harvard University Asia Center, Co-sponsored by the Department of Music, the Department of South Asian Studies, the Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies, the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University. 


The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact us at 617-495-4037 or in advance of your participation or visit. Requests for Sign Language interpreters and/or CART providers should be made at least two weeks in advance if possible. Please note that the Davis Center will make every effort to secure services but that services are subject to availability.