“But I hate it that I keep watch over the name I was given to capture me, that I drag it & it drags me, and that it’s stuck to my face and has become part of my voice.”
In “Good Morning, War,” my mother, who didn’t believe in her death, is the main narrator, speaking from the grave. The shock of my mother’s death, in which I also didn’t believe, and the shock of the fall of my country and its continued destruction, drove me write to hold on to our humanity, so that war victims don’t become numbers.
“I worked on the idea of fear because people in Syria — or any other country that’s under such a regime — are not only afraid of the regime, they are afraid of being afraid. It’s a condition that precedes the fear, meaning people are afraid because they are going to be afraid, and I worked from that point.”
“All of France now, for me, is simply a hotel, or hospital, or bridge between two mountains, a station here that I’m waiting in for a train going to my country over there. I’m waiting to reclaim my life. To return the duplicated Sara to the original one. I’m here waiting for my feet to slip at every French moment, to take me to Aleppo.”
“The last thing I need is that people read me because my book is forbidden. I need people to read it because they want to read it.”
“You emerge from behind the scenes, I emerge from behind the nightmares, smiling as if the war hasn’t eaten my brother, and in those days, when my Syrian friends were dying under torture, my European friends were gently withdrawing from my wound which scratched their white lives and didn’t conform in any way to accepted Western criteria of what constitutes pain.”
The two Syrians are poet-translator Abdulkadir Musa and poet-playwright Liwaa Yazji.
Mother laughed. “And the ox is naughty like you. Try to sleep.”
My mother left the room and I stayed alone with the rain.
His fourth collection of poetry, A Bull in a Jungle, was published a year after his death in Damascus in 1982. The collection ends with a poem titled “Habit,” with a final line that reads, “I have grown accustomed to awaiting you, O Revolution.”
“I have always felt this inclination to what’s being written in other languages, not necessarily by the well-known names. Translation is crucial for the common imagination, for mutual understanding among human beings. What comes from the imagination belongs to everybody.”
“In addition to the $20,000 prize, there is also a fund to support translation of the winning collection into English, and $5,000 for each of the shortlisted authors.”
“Massacre is a dead metaphor that is eating my friends, eating them without salt.”