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from the March 2013 issue

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 approach?

Syria was withheld from Syrians. Nowadays, they feel part of it, each in his or her own way. This ongoing experience of pain and hope, this revolution which most Syrians have been going through for two years, has uncovered many suppressed contrasts and has changed the way we recollect the past. The consequences of such a catastrophe inflicted on Syrians cast another light on the regime’s long history of neglect and crime. Many ideas and images lie jumbled in our minds and on the ground, and anyone who tries to look down may feel dizzy and terrified.

The poems presented here are trying to ask, piling up questions. The poets, albeit separated by geographical distance, are similarly preoccupied with the reaffirmation of life. Sometimes they are haunted by the same old question of the complex relation between ethics and aesthetics that has always tormented writers. Poems at the moment, to our astonishment, are increasingly inclined to avoid an apocalyptic view of the world, and are written about almost everything. From experimental prose poems to lyrical traditional ones, different kinds of poetry, written in Arabic, in Kurdish, or another language of this multicultural country, counterpoint each other. It's again a question of seeing what's always been there in front of our faces, shadowed by fears and love. There is probably a poem being written somewhere in Syria at this moment, another tiny part of what we do not yet know.

© 2013 Golan Haji. All rights reserved.

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