Maram Al-Masri (Syria – France) / Translated by Hélène Cardona  

Maram Al-Masri (Syria – France)
Maram Al-Masri was born in Latakia, Syria, and moved to France in 1982 following the completion of English Literature studies at Damascus University. She is the recipient of many prestigious literary prizes, including the Prix d’Automne 2007 de Poésie de la Société des Gens De Lettres, the Adonis Prize of the Lebanese Cultural Forum, the Premio Citta di Calopezzati for the section Poésie de la Méditerranée, Il Fiore d’Argento for cultural excellence, and the Dante Alighieri Prize (for her high and concentrated voice on love, in the great tradition of Arab language and the best European and Italian poetry).
Today Maram is completely dedicated to poetry and writing, and considered one of the most acknowledged, influential, and captivating voices of her generation.
Al-Masri’s seventeen books include Je te regarde, Cerise rouge sur un carrelage blanc, Le retour de Walada, Elle va nue la liberté, Je te menace d’une colombe blanche, Le Rapt, and two anthologies, including Femmes poètes du monde arabe.
War rages in Rwanda
War rages in Rwanda
and me, I eat
War rages in Yugoslavia
and me, I smile
War rages in Palestine
and me, I sleep
but since you were kidnapped
war rages within me
Far from my arms
Far from my arms
you sleep in a bed that isn’t yours
you no longer see my face
nor my eyes looking at you with such love
you can no longer take my hands
as you once did
before falling asleep
at night you will wake
to say Mother
to a woman who is not me
far from my eyes
you will grow up
you will go to school
and I will not be waiting for you at the gate
if you get sick
I will not be worrying by your side
I won’t recognize your face or your voice
I won’t recognize your smell
or the size of your shoes
you will remain in my memory
the eighteen-month-old child
kidnapped from me
Under the bed
Under the bed
I found the teddy bear
you hugged and covered with kisses
the one you talked to, eyes wide open
waiting for the angel of sleep to come
remember how it stopped
the storm of your cries
when I waved it at you
then the night of your eyes glistened
and even the Niagara Falls
stopped falling
you tore it from my hands
clutching it against you
it was your companion
to face the night
your silent friend
the one you neglected when busy
the one you looked for when sad
the teddy bear and angel of sleep
keep looking for you
helene-cardona, foto (1)
Hélène Cardona
Hélène Cardona’s books include three poetry collections, most recently Dreaming My Animal Selves and Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry) and the translations Birnam Wood (José Manuel Cardona, Salmon Poetry), Beyond Elsewhere (Gabriel ArnouLaujeac, White Pine Press), winner of a Hemingway Grant, Ce que nous portons (Dorianne Laux, Éditions du Cygne), The Abduction (Maram Al-Masri, forthcoming White Pine Press), and Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for The University of Iowa’s WhitmanWeb.
She has also translated Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Aloysius Bertrand, Eric Sarner, René Depestre, Ernest Pépin, Jean-Claude Renard, Nicolas Grenier, Christiane Singer, and John Ashbery. Her own work has been translated into 16 languages.
The recipient of over 20 awards and honors, she holds an MA in American Literature from the Sorbonne, received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut and Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, worked as a translator for the Canadian Embassy in Paris, and taught at Hamilton College and LMU.
Publications include World Literature Today, Washington Square Review, The London Magazine, Poetry International, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Asymptote, Drunken Boat, Anomaly, Dublin Review of Books, The Warwick Review, and The Irish Literary
Times among many.

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