Editor’s note: The film was originally broadcast in 2012.
Renowned and outspoken Syrian poet Hala Mohammad explains how she thinks poetry was essential to the political awakening in the Middle East, and especially to the fight against Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.
Her work is respected for tackling memory, fear, alienation and loneliness and they are feelings which pervade this moving meditation from a woman trapped in exile for medical reasons.
She may be living in Paris, the city of romance, but her stay is marked by despair and claustrophobia as she is forced to watch from afar the deepening crisis in her country.
But even with her faith in politics exhausted, Hala retains her belief in the power of poetry to inspire change.
FILMMAKER’S VIEW: Keeping the protest alive
By Yasmin Fedda
I have been visiting Syria all of my life and when the uprising began I felt hopeful that much needed change would come to the country.
However, as time goes on, and more people are killed, it becomes an increasingly painful struggle. At the same time, it has been inspiring to see and read about the artistic work and courage of protesters in Syria.
I wanted to find out more about how Syrian poets are responding to the conflict and uprising in their country.
When I came across the poems of Hala Mohammad I was struck by their clear, refined structures and use of everyday language to evoke her feelings and thoughts about what was happening in her country as she watched from afar, exiled in Paris.
I also wanted to use this film to highlight the work of artists, poets and protesters on the ground in Syria – people who have been finding creative ways to express and resist ever increasing violence and oppression.
About the series:
Poets of Protest reflects the poet’s view of the change sweeping the Middle East and North Africa through its intimate profiles of six contemporary writers as they struggle to lead, to interpret and to inspire.
Poetry lives and breathes in the Middle East as in few other places.
In a region long dominated by authoritarian regimes, poetry is the medium for expressing people’s hopes, dreams and frustrations. Poets became historians, journalists, entertainers – and even revolutionaries.