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Syrian Refugee Poets in Sweden and the United States: Fractured Subjectivities and Belonging
My paper focuses on a community of Syrian poets who currently live in the United States and Sweden. It specifically discusses exilic literary production and how Syrian refugees turn to poetry to address the question of refuge, loss, marginalization, grief, and suffering. Poetry is a culturally valorized art form in the Arab world, one that is used to express love and longing, anguish and despair, hope and aspiration—sentiments that are sometimes difficult to express through any other medium. Far from being purely personal, such literary production has described as “central to the revolutionary process, and the key achievement of the revolution” (al-Haj Saleh 2017: xvii). I examine the trajectories of these poets and their texts, with a focus on how longing for the homeland, collective suffering, distress, the effects of dislocation from home, and social alienation in a society that dramatically differs from their homeland—and, at times, vilifies them because of their religious and cultural backgrounds—shape their sense of identity and their cultural production. In particular, I seek to identify how war, loss, displacement, and grief, among other, have inevitably affected the subjectivities of these Syrian refugee writers and the ways these changes have been conceptualized in their artistic productions. Thus, I examine how exile has shaped and continues to shape these poets’ sense of identity and artistry. This paper also explores how artistic production mirrors the social conditions, suffering, marginalized lives in exile, and changing subjectivities of these poets. Finally, this work aims to chronicle these poets’ lives in the diaspora, with its endless paradoxical seesawing between their mounting anguish and the joy they experience through poetic accomplishment.
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All Middle East
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