It's too much work, the rooster. He's away…

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It's too much work, the rooster. He's away…


Neil Shea







POINT (5058446.71653484, 4240478.3613054)

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It's too much work, the rooster. He's away at the front too often, fighting ISIS. Twenty days on, ten days off. No time to care for it, sometimes no money. Since the war began pay doesn't come like it used to. So on Saturday afternoon Bahman Omer stands beneath a bridge at the animal market in Slemani, asking 100,000 dinar for a fighting cock with an unblemished record. There have been only three fights, but a champ is a champ and look at that face. It's a big bird, tall as a four-year-old. It has the legs of a reptile and the talons of a raptor and no name at all. I'm here attending the first #Instameet ever held in Kurdistan,* talking with people about asking questions and taking photos. Most who join us don't call themselves photographers. They're poets or engineers or students, all of them just past 20 and looking for new ways to explore their country. Their countries. Iraq is not only war, they'll tell you. And Kurdistan is not Iraq. We end up in the animal market because it is so full—sensory overload, emotional short-circuit, shit laughter feathers fur. Over a few hours they see far more than I do. A proud rooster bound with twine becomes a metaphor for Saddam. Caged songbirds stand in for women, the veil. A soldier home from his first war sells off some excess violence. Bahman Omer doesn't mind our questions, poses easily with his bird. The Kurdish woman wandering with me thinks it's sad. Something about the way he holds it, she says. The fighter so calm in his arms.

#kurdistan #instameetsuli #sulistories #underthebridge #instameet #natgeo #makeportraits #tellstories #shorttrue #trueshort #slemani #rooster #birds #animals #iraq #instakurd #everydaymiddleeast #animalsofiraq @petergwin @chenpamela #instagramjournalism *we're pretty sure it's the first




Neil Shea, “It's too much work, the rooster. He's away…,” The InstaEssay Archive, accessed June 20, 2019,