In 2011, the American poet Gregory Carlock travelled to Damascus, to research a book he was writing on contemporary Arabic poetry. There, he met Waddah, a young Syrian writer, who introduced him to the city’s underground of poets, hash-heads, and political activists. The two began making translations of one another’s poems – from Arabic into English, and from English into Arabic – which they read every week at Bayt al-Qasid, Lukman Derky’s ecstatic gatherings in the basement of the Hotel Fardous.
Eighteen months later, back in Germany, Carlock learned that Waddah had been kidnapped, on a cold December morning, by state security forces. For a year afterwards, he didn’t know whether his friend was still alive.In that period of limbo, Carlock wrote Waddah a letter – a long prose poem, in which he meticulously, and expressively, reconstructed the details of the pair’s time together.
Part travel journal, part elegy for a people, and place, sacrificed on the altar of war, To a Syrian Prisoner of Conscience offers readers a glimpse into the tumultuous weeks immediately preceding the Syrian uprising, as well as a sustained meditation on the political limitations of the poetic act.
Author: Gregory Carlock
Dimensions: 24 x 16 cm