Translator's notes

Two poems

By Fadwa Souleiman

Fadwa Souleiman (b.1973) was a successful and appreciated actor in theatre and film in Syria before the revolution. She left her career and family to join the democratic uprising and became a kind of icon – addressing the crowds in Homs and leading them in the chant ‘One, One, the Syrian people are one!’ – but she was also an eloquent spokesperson for a nonviolent revolution, interviewed by Egyptian or Jordanian television and newspapers (there are innumerable YouTube clips of her in Syria and afterwards). It became more and more difficult to hold to her positions and she was also from an Alawite family that disowned her.

She left Syria in 2012 and she is now a political exile in France. Her first book of poems was published in Beirut in 2013 and the title translates ‘As the moon rises’. It was published in French translation (translated by Nabil El Azan) in 2014, as À la pleine lune. The following poems are taken from this collection. She continues to write, poetry, fi lm scripts and other texts, and to reconstruct her life in Europe.

I knew Fadwa first as a political icon and then as a friend. I worked with her learning to recite Arabic poetry, Darwish especially, the way she had in drama school in Damascus, and she wrote an article about our friendship for An-Nahar. I was delighted when she gave me her collection in Arabic. It seemed like reciprocity to translate some of these poems. I worked with a bilingual dictionary, and would go over the translations with another bilingual Syrian friend to catch errors or references I might have missed.

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