Faraj Bayraqdar was born in 1951 in the village of Tir near Homs, central Syria. He published two collections of poetry, You Are Not Alone (Beirut, 1979), and Golsorkhi (1981), before his arrest in 1987 for his political affiliations and imprisonment without trial until 1993 when he was sentenced to fifteen years’ hard labour for belonging to an unauthorized political association. He was eventually released in 2000 after an international campaign. In 1997 friends published a small collection of his poetry Dove in Free Flight. Bayraqdar was the winner of the 1998 Hellman-Hammet Award, the 1999 International PEN Award from PEN American Center West, and the 2004 Free Word Award from NOVIB, in the Netherlands. After his release he published Asian Recitals (Damascus 2001). Selected Poems, translated by the New York Translation Collective, and an interview by Muhammad Ali Atassi introduced by Elias Khoury, were published in Los Angeles in 2004 by Beyond Baroque Press.
Source: Banipal: Magazine of Modern Arab Literature: http://www.banipal.co.uk/contributors/226/faraj_bayraqdar/
Statement by Faraj Bayrakdar made at a press conference on 28 November 2000 after being released from prison
I salute you with open arms and my heart filled with the sound of joyous bells.
The distance between nightmare and dream is equal to that which exists between prison and liberty. And I don’t know how to express my gratitude to you and hundreds of friends who have helped me to pass from the river of nightmare to that of dream.
I well know that repression is across the world and that liberty must be all around. I hope also that you will welcome me into your ranks, now that I have recovered to some extent my freedom, so that we can follow the road together. For, although I am now out of prison, many still remain inside, in my own country and in numerous other places.
My dear friends. Certain detained journalists and myself have benefited from the particular attention of yourselves and that of numerous other organisations and personalities. I must remind you that this has allowed us to escape the grasp of forgetfulness, this symbolic death that so menaces prisoners.
After having written much for death, I would like now to write for her sister, life. Yes... I entered into prison ready to die and here I am, 14 years later, putting my dreams back in order, ready at last to live. As the sand can only unite with the mirage, hence, the dream must unite with freedom.
Once again, my gratitude to you all and all those hundreds of friends who I know or not... and my affection.
Your friend Faraj Bayrakdar
Here I am you alone
In this mad, gaping
Here I am you alone and death altogether
With its predators and its seers and the informers
Perhaps I am arriving at
The limit of my possibilities
For you to arrive at the last
Flare up until you see me and
Become complete until I see you
My rose between two fires
Hopefully I am inciting wisdom
In this ruin
I have tried
To the end of the flower and the fire,
Then, how have they isolated my voice
And your silence?
Have you leaned on a belated
Or have I been exchanged--one absence for another?!
Here I am you alone--while you are but I
I was not before me but you were after you
The shadow has shed the blood of the sun
On the horizon and the night has hissed
The night has hissed
How you have been delayed . . . changed . . .
And you would not be laid bare--
Take no offense from me
You have your shrouds
With thorns the guard caresses
And the state bestows upon you
A precautionary death,
And enough of the darkness
For you to go -so go
You are aware of the insanity of death,
Thus the music breaks out
And your myths are shaken
his other body is in the arena,
Are you asking me
Who has splattered a name . .
And the throne with blood . . . ?
No time . . .
This other body
Who has taken it from me
And who has taken me from it?
And who testifies that death
Has grown weary?
The obscure caresses its vacancies
with wires and blasphemy
I have tried often. . .
As the constellation has mourned the horizon of a poem
I said I have tried often
And with lilac, I have caressed
The river has been choked with the tears of a woman
Whose son was
More pure than she had hoped for
But her dreams were fractured in the night . . .
God was in a seventh slumber,
As was her son
For who would disturb him
Before the dawn call to prayer?!!
And who, Sister. . . .
Now bestows upon you
A palm of his stature
A cloud of his laughter
A breadth of his hands?!!
The river has been choked with the tears of a woman
She resembles my mother,
Just as You resemble me,
And you are now alone
Extinction has escaped you . . .
How the night has shed light on you
And the blossoms are darker.
And the wind has enfolded you
How the wilderness prays for you
And forgetfulness has been hailed
Shall I proceed with your pledges?
I am not asking about places,
My prison is a place,
Except that the times
Have been divested of their right
For a free journey and of
Their right of place
Having dried up in my coat
Are seven clouds and your memory . . .
Are you mourning
The salt of your tears and the poet
In the reach of his poem
He writes it
Or let me say: it writes him
Or both write:
Perhaps you are bringing me flowers
You will not find after you
One who brings yours
Our night brings to the surface its elegy
On the long verse
I see my course on the waves
Or is this your face?
The salt of your tears,
So permit me to
Close my eyes a little
And a little . . .
And a little.
I have not yet handed over my directions
To the judgment of the sand . . .
Behind me a time
Ashamed of the deceits of geography . . .
Thanks to the sparrow
That built a nest on the other
Window and flew.
Breaker of my back
Your shadow is now a spent tomorrow
Upon which I disperse my thoughts
And I call to you with what is in the spirit
From the groan of the horse . . .
Do you hear me . . . ?
I am calling
I am not searching for a collective grave
Rather . . . for my country
Read more: http://wordswithoutborders.org/article/groans1/#ixzz1JEPAAO2z