THE WORLD MIRROR / SPOTLIGHT
“The most beautiful thing in my life has been being able to present myself as a poet who has published her own words”, says Syrian poet Farkad al-Salloum. Her first book ‘I have just committed to life’ speaks of a homeland, war and martyrs, but also the joys of life.
Shurouk Hammoud and Hanna Hirvonen, interview
Milla Selin, translation from Finnish
Where are you from and where are you currently residing, Farkad al-Salloum?
I was born in the Syrian capital Damascus, on the 14th of February 1987, baptized by the jasmine scented mornings. Now I live in Salhab in Syria, in the town of Hamah, next to Masyaf.
Has the place you live in affected your latest book?
The local literary salon (situated in the house of the poet Soliman al-Sheikh Husain) has been like an incubator, which has had a major impact on exchanging ideas and thoughts, and finding other writers’ work. It was there that I had the idea to publish my first collection ‘I have just committed to life‘ (2016).
Syrian poet Farkad al-Salloum published her first book last year.
PHOTO: Nawfal al-Salloum.
Why do you write poems?
Poetry is my message to others, and a way to express human development. I didn’t choose poetry, that talent chose me. I empowered it by practicing, reading, and following the developments in literature and poetry. I also write other things besides poetry and plan to become a writer of a different genre in the future.
What is your first book about?
I talk about homeland, war and martyrs, but also joy and living life. My new collection has an aesthetic expression, and it includes some flash poetry of life in general.
What kind of circumstances was the book written in?
I have lived under siege in my beloved home country Syria, and suffered personal losses. The first loved one I lost was my brother.
How did you publish your latest book? Is it self-published or did you receive support from a cultural institute or organization? Where can the book be found?
I published the book myself. My poetry collection is in the homes of my friends and students, those who wanted the book signed. I do my best to distribute the book to libraries and culture centers.
How did you feel when publishing the book?
It was like giving birth; a state of overwhelming happiness and creation that amazes even myself. It’s as if babies are flowing from me; my cavity becomes wide and poems come out.
Are you the same person you were before writing this book? Did it add something to your personality or experience?
No, of course I’m not the same. After publishing this book I have become a member of the cultural circles. My presence as a poet, with a book and substantial voice, has been recognized. My social circles, too, consisting of writers, intellectuals, and people who are interested in the Arabic language, have expanded. This challenges me and gives me the responsibility to continue and do my best.
If you weren’t a poet, what would you like to do?
I will follow my talent in everything I do, and refine it always. The most beautiful thing in my life has been being able to present myself as a poetess with her own, published words. I am thoroughly charmed by literature.
Fragment from Farkad al-Salloum’s book:
I collect an epistaxis for your glass
Dismantle your seasons’ drought;
The candles of your waiting become embers
You absent yourself
My perfume dries up
My dress perishes
Then I get dismantled
When your body is a piles of straw
And my heart is a needle,
I leak through your pores,
And pour your hands’ shade,
Waving to the poplar trees
Unbending the craziness of the rain
I have left the soil orbit supple
To see in you
The maturation of the fruits
Poem translated by Shurouk Hammoud, 2017.