Hussein Habash: I learned in my European exile to write in my mother tongue

The Syrian Kurdish poet believes that true creativity thrives only in the shadow of freedom

> It was stated in the merits of the “Bosnaki Stijak” award by the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina writers during the “Sarajevo Poetry Days” festival that you “write poems that glorify freedom and humanity.” How have these two core issues manifested in your creative experience?

I am the son of a people who have suffered and still suffer from all kinds of injustice, oppression, oppression and persecution, as well as from all sorts of limitations placed on his being and existence, his language, his affiliation, and all the details of his life. My thinking, awareness and imagination had to focus on the idea of ​​freedom and its fundamental questions, as well as preoccupation with the humanity of man and how to preserve and preserve his dignity on this earth, which is no longer a safe place to live, without fear, dread and anxiety.

Some of my writings have gone in this direction from the beginning with full knowledge and awareness, immersed in its details and asked many questions about it. This existential question therefore never left me: What is the meaning of human existence if it is stripped of its humanity and freedom? It might just be a pile of meat and bone and nothing else! True writing does not exist and does not grow except in the shadow of freedom, or its own freedom is violated in the event of a narrowing of the screws to it! She did not for one moment lose sight of her idea, her place and her great manifestations, whether in the context of writing or beyond, regardless of the circumstances and conditions. “When death is here, it comes second, freedom always comes first,” Ritsos believed.

> It was also mentioned in the merits of the award that you write about the “destroyed Kurdish homeland.” How do you see the European celebration of Kurdish creators?

– Yes, I write about the destroyed, torn and wounded Kurdish homeland, whose bleeding did not stop for a single moment because of the brutality and cruelty of those who appropriate it and violate its holiness in length and breadth without that any deterrent or law prevents them. I try through writing and imagination as well as on the ground not to scatter his body parts here and there and to heal his deep wounds. As for the European celebration of Kurdish creators, this celebration is very rare, and it is unfortunately almost non-existent. Just as there are clear European differences in dealing with people’s issues and human rights, there are also clear differences in dealing with their literature and art, and that is truly a cause for sadness!

> Despite your Kurdish background, you write in Arabic … What are the reasons for that?

– The reasons for my writing in Arabic are known to everyone. The Kurdish language was and still is banned and banned in Syria. It was forbidden to speak it except in a close series, that is, within the home and family. Kurdish culture was banned, suppressed and persecuted to the extent that even the keeping of a Kurdish book or magazine could expose its owner to accountability, investigation and imprisonment; There are also no schools, institutes or universities that include them in their lectures and curricula. Therefore, the only possible option for me at that time was to master the Arabic language and gradually study in it, reading, culture and writing … But I want to add in this context, that I learned in my mother tongue to write in my exile here in Europe, and write in it, long ago, my poems, texts and my obsessions that I was previously forbidden to write in a country I never had! Currently, I only write in Kurdish, and I rarely write in Arabic, out of revenge for all the injustice that has befallen my mother tongue and the list of oppression and prohibition that has affected it from all sides!

> Does the issue of identity as a Kurd with German citizenship bother you?

– I made my decision in this regard a long time ago. In every place where I am found or invited, I consider myself a Kurdish poet from Kurdistan, and I set this matter as a condition for accepting my presence among them and with I have refused to meet some important Arabic parties because they did not respect this privacy! As far as German citizenship is concerned, it has given me and my little family life and psychological stability, as well as a passport with the power of a thousand horses, with which I can travel the world, all over the world without a sign or a gym at the borders or at the airports. So I am eternally grateful for the country I am in, as well as for my beautiful city Bonn.

She says in the poem “The Illusion of Arriving”: “They left their homelands and carried their many illusions / and turned their faces to a land they would never reach.” What are the circumstances of writing this poem? And what do those whose lands have narrowed in the Middle East do?

– This poem was written in a specific and specific context.In the dangerous escape journey, some got lost in the dense forests and died without ever showing the way. And some of their bodies were pierced by bullets that militarized the borders of some fierce lands, and they had not yet crossed it or crossed it only a few meters! And some of them drowned in the open sea without kohl their eyes to see the land again. And some of them mercilessly bombarded their bodies with hail, thunder, snow and rain and turned them into statues of pain, torment and death! The poem is specifically about them. What are those whose lands have narrowed in the Middle East doing? I became absolutely certain that the dangerous escape journey had become easier for me than enduring torture, oppression, imprisonment, prisons, dictatorships and dirty wars that all without exception exhausted, turning those lands into rubble, ruins and large settlements to to torture and violate. human dignity.

> It seems that women have a special presence in your offices, but some believe that this presence only reduces them to the “erotic” field How do you see the matter?

This speech is not accurate. Maybe this person just read my book “Higher than lust and sweeter than the waist of a gazelle” and based his opinion on it. I have written extensively about the wife, mother, sister, wife, daughter, girlfriend, companion and colleague. I still regard women, as in the past, as the light of the world and its great being, the bosom in which we rest, the breast in which we rest, and the heart that embraces us and gives us generous hope, beauty, longing and giving. tenderness … She is motherhood and fertility that saves our lives from drought, thirst, drought and desertification. It frees her from the bondage of masculinity. This does not mean that I reject my sensual writings, which are perhaps the most beautiful of what I have written. I will write about the erotic when there is a technical need for it.

Twenty years ago, Hussein Habash, the Syrian Kurdish poet, traveled to the city of Bonn, Germany, in search of an alternative homeland, and “a space to help him create.” During this time he published poetry collections such as “Drowning in the Roses”, “Fugitives Across the River Evros”, “The Dead Arguing in the Halls”.

In this dialogue, Habash, winner of the Sarajevo Poetry Days Festival, talks about his literary experience, and about the “idea of ​​freedom”, which he believes true creativity can only grow in his shadow, as well as his writing in Arabic, which ‘ a natural consequence was to prevent the Kurdish language from being used in the past.

> Choices of your poems have been translated into several languages ​​such as English, German and Spanish How do you see the importance and reality of translation?

Translation is the bridge to cross over to the other and culturally and civilized to deal with it. It plays a major and crucial role in strengthening and strengthening the cultural human ties between nations and peoples and bringing them cognitively, aesthetically and humanly closer together. Were it not for translation, and I mention especially poetic translation here, we would not have discovered all this beauty in the world and all these great poems written in other languages ​​which we have not mastered, and we would not have come not to know them more closely without them. The translation took me and my poem to places I would not otherwise have dreamed of. So thank you to everyone who sacrificed their precious time and had my poems printed with love, beauty and smoothness in other languages.

> It bears the title of your fourth book, “Directions to Salim Barakat.” What does this represent for you?

– The book “Destabilities to Salim Barakat” is a single long poem dedicated to Salim Barakat as indicated in the title. By placing the dedication as the title of the book, I wanted to change the rule of shy devotion, which is often on the first or second inside page of books and collections. This book is a tribute to an outstanding and great poet and novelist, and as a response to the religion he left in the neck of my writing when he wrote the introduction to my first volume “Sink in Roses”. Salim Barakat was and will remain for me “the godfather of labyrinths and the imagination of the abyss”.

> After almost twenty years of your presence in the European diaspora, what has changed poetically and humanly for you?

– First I learned a great language, German, the language in which I read Goethe, Schiller, Rilke, Holderlin, Navalis, Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt directly, and the list goes on, without the intermediary of another language. These lectures contributed greatly to my culture, awareness and experience, and deepened my life and writing experiences. I also changed the direction of my poems and took them to remote and different areas. My presence here also gave me freedom of creativity, thinking and movement without any restrictions or “taboos”, and it opened up vast horizons and vast spaces for reflection, rebellion, creativity and madness. It brought me into direct contact with people of different ethnicities, races, cultures, civilizations and languages. It also helped to enrich my life, people and writing experience … This climate refined my soul and put it on a new and formulated differently. He taught me to be more tolerant of others and to respect his privacy no matter what, and also to know my rights and duties and to think nicely.

> The tendency of poets to write novels has become a common phenomenon in search of diffusion, but you are against such an approach … Why?

– I will not write the novel and I will not eavesdrop on it as some poets do now, despite the clutter of prose threads in my head and its demons converging in my imagination. I still think that one true line of poetry transcends hundreds of pages of narrative, of course, without underestimating the value and importance of the novel. I will never regret it, and I love my stubbornness as a Kurd loves his stubbornness!


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