Skip to content

Keywords

Articles tagged "Syria"

Refugee Stories: Idomeni, Greece

Image: Ahmad at the refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece, photographed by Martin Trabalik.  In 2015, over 800,000 individuals fleeing war-torn lands in the Middle East made the hazardous journey from Turkey to Greece in overcrowded, ill-equipped boats, hoping eventually to find their way to safety elsewhere in Europe. From the islands of the eastern Aegean they headed to the mainland and north, eager to cross into Macedonia and continue along the so-called Balkan Route to Austria and...

I Will Leave, without Lying Down on the Dewy Grass Even Once

“So does this mean I’ll leave this world without lying down on the dewy grass even once?” “There are more important things than that to think about, actually, but if that’s what’s on your mind, you could still do it. You’ve got at least three weeks left.” “But there’d be no point now. I’m not going to.” I didn’t let him say anything else, and I left before he could start with the trite words of consolation. In...

Syria Speaks: An Interview with Zaher Omareen and Malu Halasa

Malu Halasa and Zaher Omareen are two of the editors of Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline.  This new anthology showcases Syrian essays, fiction, poetry, visual art and photography, in a wide-ranging collection of artistic work that explores, critiques, and bears witness to the momentous changes experienced by the Syrian people since 2011.             Malu Halasa is a writer and curator with a focus on the Middle East. She...

The Liberated Voice: Three Writers from Syria

Clearly the most important duty for the outsider looking to read new Syrian literature at the moment is not to expect a consistent voice or search for a monolithic take on the current period of Syrian history—or on anything else, for that matter. As a translator of Arabic literature and a sometime resident of Damascus with many Syrian friends, perhaps the most depressing question one gets asked is “What do Syrians / Syrian women / Arabs / young Arabs / ordinary Arabs think about...

A Bedtime Story for Eid

Translator’s note: Zaher Omareen’s tale takes us on a journey back to 1980s Hama, zooming in on some of the individual victims of the massacres and disappearances committed by the regime there, as told by a mother to her son. Between 10,000 and 40,000 people perished at the hands of Hafez al-Assad’s forces in a 27-day massacre in 1982: such was the climate of fear that it has only ever been referred to—if at all—as The Events. As this story is told in the...

I Am a Refugee

My apologies, Sir, That I come to you As a refugee. Accept me as a human being and not As a slave. Do not look down on me; Do not look me up and down. I am a poet; My testimonies plaster the walls, And people far and wide recite my poems. Will you accept me among you As a refugee? They destroyed my poems, along with the walls they hung upon; When they torched the verses, I burned with them. They broke my mind; They robbed my thoughts; They stripped our insides. Will you accept me among...

The Art of Expressing One’s Agony: An Interview with M. Raouf Bachir

Mohamed Raouf Bachir was a successful and celebrated writer of short stories in Syria in the sixties and seventies, becoming a member of the state-sponsored Arab Writers Union, on the Story and Novel Committee in 1974, and later honored as the “Sheikh of Aleppo’s Authors.” Now in his eighties, he has gone into exile in Turkey, having lost his home in Aleppo along with its contents, including his entire literary archive, and endured a traumatic exit from his homeland, like...

Falling Down Politely, or How to Use Up All Six Bullets Instead of Playing Russian Roulette

But where’s the skill in loading a gun with just one round of ammunition and pointing it at your head, trying your luck at deliverance? The ingenious thing would be to fill all six chambers and let every bullet kill you, one after the other. Bullet 1 Even though the voice ringing out from the stereo in your bedroom belongs to a singer who didn’t die at twenty-seven like those other musical geniuses—Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, that bunch—you still listen to him every...

Exile is Born at This Moment

Oh, my love, while you are in my breath, I am a statue of snow at the entrance to Damascus, with eyes closed, nose breathing anger, ears tuned to the noise of death, mouth speechless, trying to say: when blood is exiled, nothing binds it to the race. With you in my breath, my every moment is absurd. Uselessness rehearses images in my mind. On the screens I watch Metal snow falling. Ink is a dimming light. Eyes do not see yet fill with images. Oh, eyes, you are also covered by the snow of...

Exiled in Europe: An Interview with Three Women Writers

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has often examined the question of exile in essays and articles. Exile is indeed a place, he has written, a desolate space where one must confront the question: “Is there a moment when you know intuitively and accept that you have now truly arrived in exile?” He also suggests that a writer’s temperament is that of “a creature in a permanent state of exile,” since his or her real vocation is the eradication of the barriers of reality....

Bag of the Nation

I took the big bag that I had inherited from my grandfather down from the attic. It was brightly colored like a storm of rainbows. I hoisted it onto my back and went out into the street. I closed my eyes and began to choose samples at random from everything that was inside: humans and stones and dust and flowers and wind and the past and the present and the future. I carried the heavy bag on my back and set off on a far-ranging journey around the world, proudly carrying the overflowing...

Autumn Here is Magical and Vast

A bloody shaft of light shone under our door between their compass & the north star so the road passed through our house out toward the estuary. Its stones are our tears which silted in our chests until we spat them out. The road smashed the Janus-faced mirror & flasks of the perfumers and left us nothing but the clouds to dwell in with our mouths, as our pockets, stuffed with sand.  *** Rains taught him how he’d evaporate from the earth’s body. The cat...

Stories from “The Hedgehog”

My Invisible Friend My mother went to call on her neighbor Umm Baha’. She refused to take me with her, giving the excuse that women visit women and men visit men, and she left me at home alone, promising that she would only be gone for a few minutes. I told my cat that I was going to hang her, but she paid no attention to me, and kept on  grooming her fur with her tongue. I told the bitter orange tree in its tub of earth in the courtyard of our house that I was going to...

Blackness

We who were killed in all wars. In the Basus war our corpses dangled from the Turks’ gallows In Troy’s war We were behind the walls Blood dried in our veins Those besieging us never went away We were outside the walls Our skins were lacerated The besieged never surrendered We were chasing Abu Jahl We got his head and were killed by his enemies Wars wore us out So we froze in museums In times of peace We who were killed In the June war October war The...

In the Doorway of My Friend’s House

I stopped in the doorway of my friend’s house And my palm was glued to the doorbell But my finger trembled, too weak to arouse A desire to ring in its wires I wavered. The road to his house had been long And between the two of us and his morning cups Of coffee, more than ten years. His little brother: he finished copying out his lessons. Their neighbor: perhaps she hadn’t prolonged her visit After his sister May had finished Putting on her dress, and she had turned...

A Note on Syrian Poetry Today

At a moment of simultaneous disintegration and creation, survival looms just where the danger is. What is it like to be Syrian today, when a long ending and an unknown beginning are bloodily mingled? What is it like to live and to die as a stranger in your own country, or as different kind of stranger in exile? How can any poet do justice to the complex emotions and ideas these circumstances have been provoking all over Syria and abroad, since March 2011? Where to find any plausible...

A Conversation with Rafik Schami

Rafik Schami was born in Damascus in 1946, came to Germany in 1971, and studied chemistry in Heidelberg. Today he is the most successful German-speaking Arabic writer. His novels have been translated into twenty-three languages and received numerous international awards. His bestselling books include The Dark Side of Love, The Calligrapher's Secret, and Damascus Nights. Syrian journalist Nadia Midani spoke with Rafik Schami earlier this year. The following is an edited transcript of...

The Fountain

When the inscrutable embraces sluggish time spreading its invisible light between two suspended shores rags of screams, a flight of black cloth spread a hollow vertigo down the native alley Sanctuaries in ruins, fathomless crypts, sepulchres with no remains merge above a beaded sheet wrapped around the earth’s flank The eye of silence peers and sinks into the snowed-up scene tears it up like a lightning-blade digs the earth to the bone a grave for the wandering...

A Scream Has No Alphabet: An Interview with Aïcha Arnaout

Born in Damascus, the poet and novelist Aïcha Arnaout has lived in Paris since 1978. We have had quite a few conversations over the past few years, often at the Marché de la Poésie, an annual event that takes place in early summer on the Place Saint-Sulpice, in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Last March, she became totally engaged in the Syrian revolt, working day and night to send news updates and attend meetings in support of her people. We no longer meet at readings,...

Arabic


The First Breaths of Freedom

Haven't you missed the sun and rain and streets? During those long nights, didn't you dream of these paths as you were eating ful and smoking? And how often did you torture yourself with thoughts of entering an old tavern? And dream of a man with vague features, your hand in his, your mouth open toward the sky welcoming the first showers of rain as the smell of clusters of jasmine and bitter orange blossoms linger everywhere. Dreams to which you bid farewell and welcomed back...

Barada

Barada, oh father of all rivers Oh, horse that races the days Be, in our sad history, a prophet Who receives inspiration from his lord Millions acknowledge you as an Arab Prince . . . so pray as an imam Oh eyes of the gazelle in the desert of Sham Look down. This is the age of lavender They have detained you in the pavilions for a long time We have woven tents from tears God has witnessed that we have broken no promise Or secured protection for those we love For the...

Damascus, What Are You Doing to Me?

1 My voice rings out, this time, from Damascus It rings out from the house of my mother and father In Sham. The geography of my body changes. The cells of my blood become green. My alphabet is green. In Sham. A new mouth emerges for my mouth A new voice emerges for my voice And my fingers Become a tribe 2 I return to Damascus Riding on the backs of clouds Riding the two most beautiful horses in the world The horse of passion. The horse of poetry. I return after sixty...

from Feral Love

The day had advanced resolutely into evening. He returned to his hotel, anticipating an early departure in the morning; once in his room, he stretched out on the bed. Outside, blackest night. He rose to drink from the faucet. Unable to imagine falling back to sleep, he took a seat on the floor beside the bed, switched on the lamp, took out his wallet, and drew from it his plane ticket and Nawal's photograph. Laughable as it seemed to him, he found her image had become more...

Groans

1 Here I am you alone In this mad, gaping Hell Here I am you alone and death altogether With its predators and its seers and the informers Perhaps I am arriving at The limit of my possibilities For you to arrive at the last Dream Flare up until you see me and Become complete until I see you My rose between two fires Inflaming me Hopefully I am inciting wisdom In this ruin I have tried To the end of the flower and the fire, Then, how have they isolated my...

Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 

Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.