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Poetry Reading by Gregory Carlock
The Sudden Calamity of Life
To a Syrian Prisoner of Conscience
عند قارعة الحياة

إلى سجين رأي سوري
Mar 24, 2018 @ Aaliya's Books - Beirut


In 2011, 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 their 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. 

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