Syrian Poet Defies War with Feminist, Cultural Activities

Hanaa Dawd Tells Majalla: I May Have to Emigrate Due to Compelling Circumstances
Syrian Poet Hanaa Dawd

The ongoing almost decade-long war in her country has not prevented Syrian Poet Hanaa Dawd from writing poetry and printing poetry collections, as well as conducting research related to the reality of women and participating in various cultural and feminist activities inside and outside Syria.

Dawd was born on December 25, 1979 to Kurdish parents in Syria’s northeastern town of Amuda on the borders with Tukey. She obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Arabic Language and Literature and still lives in Hasaka city despite the repercussions of the war.

Syrian Poet Hanaa Dawd

Dawd, which has so far published three poetry collections and one book on the biography of Graphic Artist Omar Hamdi, aka Malva. said the war forced her to move a lot, but only temporarily.

The poet said she used to leave the city once any confrontation breaks out between Kurdish fighters and terrorist groups, such as ISIS, but would return to her home later.

“I was also sometimes forced to leave al-Hasakah during clashes between the Kurdish security forces (Asayish) and government forces, but I return afterward.”

“I acquired new humanitarian experiences due to this temporary movement as a result of the war and my trips to participate in literary activities,” she said.

Dawd said these experiences helped her comprehend many pictures, situations, and emotions she couldn’t have been able to understand without living the experience up close.

“My life has changed during the war, as the present Hanaa Dawd is not who she was before this war,” she told Majalla, noting that many things have changed in her life and vision.

Syrian Poet Hanaa Dawd

“My humane view of things has deepened, so did the topics of my writings which are no longer confined to love or eternal dialogue between women and men,” she explained.

“The war has created new, clearer and deeper emotions, even if they are ugly at times,” Dawd stressed, affirming that the poet is capable of finding what he wants in the worst circumstances and creating beauty in a different real way by shedding light from his own angle. “This is what happened to me.”

“I can’t say my writing topics have totally changed since I am still talking about women, love, and life, but I now use different images and new vocabulary inspired by the war,” Dawd explained.

“The various activities that forced me to move inside and outside Syria had a positive impact on my writings and helped me use poetry to link pain with geography,” she added.

Dawd’s three poetry collections are namely, “And the Stars Travel As Well,” “Falling into the Red” and “Forty Defeats and I.” She is also currently preparing to print a new poetry collection.

She donated the proceeds of her latest poetry collection to displaced Syrians from the city of Ras al-Ain, who are currently living in a camp near Qamishli city after they were forced to leave their city following a Turkish attack in early October 2019.

Dawd has a record of defending women’s rights. She runs the public relations department in the Syrian ASO association to confront violence against women.

She further conducts artistic and literary research on graphic art and poetry, in addition to her continuous participation in cultural activities inside and outside Syria.

Syrian Poet Hanaa Dawd’s book

The poet headed the Kurdish Writers Union in al-Hasakah between 2013 and 2016, in addition to her work as a researcher at the Women’s Studies and Research Center in the city.

Her new poetry collection is dubbed “Half a Man, Half a Nation,” she said, adding that she is currently working on a short story collection, through which she seeks to speak about displacement and war and their impact on Syrians.

“Despite the war’s cruelty, yet it inspired us with abundant human resources that every writer can benefit from. Therefore, we can find the intruder and the opportunist, the trumpeted intellectual and the defeated intellectual who has lost his compass.”

“The cultural milieu, like others, experiences total chaos during wars,” Dawd stressed.

The standards, controls, and high class were lost, she said, noting that the criterion for evaluating writers or artists has changed.

“However, I cannot deny there are creative artists who wrote about people and their sufferings in a refined manner.”

Speaking about her personal life, Dawd said although her family lives abroad while she lives alone in Syria, she doesn’t think about migrating for reasons she preferred to keep to herself.

“But perhaps with time and under a specific or certain pressure, I may choose to leave, and then this option will be compulsory,” she concluded.


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