Syrian opposition poet at Montepulciano's 'Defy the Silence'

Rasha Omran recited from latest book at festival

18 July, 13:16

    (ANSAmed) - MONTEPULCIANO, JULY 18 - Despite the ongoing war, the well-known Syrian opposition poet Rasha Omran said that ''Syria is a country where people think and create, where there is culture and, above all, women who speak and exchange ideas, defying the usual stereotypes about Arab countries''. On Monday evening Omran, who has lived in exile in Egypt since 2012, was guest of honor at the 42nd edition of the Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte di Montepulciano festival in Montepulciano.

    The evening - entitled 'Defying the Silence: Poetry, Music and Translation Amid War and Exile' - included Omran's reading of poetry from her latest book.

    Published in 2016, the book centers on solitude and the isolation of women. ''I began to write it when I moved to Cairo,'' she said. The flat she rented had been lived in by a woman of Greek origins in her fifties. ''Starting from details that grabbed my attention, I began to think about how this woman lived alone in Cairo,'' she said.

    Born in Tartous in 1967, Omran said about Syria that ''I was not the one to decide to leave. The regime forced me to.

    Initially I went to France, where I stayed for four months, and then I moved to Egypt''. The country is ''very close to Syria in many ways, not only geographically and linguistically'', she said, added that the two societies were very much alike. ''In the period in which I moved, the country was in the middle of the revolution and I was very interested in taking part in this change - especially because Egypt is a place from which changes spread to the rest of the Arab world.'' Being there, she said, ''was also a way to understand ahead of time what was about to happen at a wider level''. At the cultural level, the arrival of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ''did not change much. It is true that I - like many others - do not have relations with state cultural institutions, but this was the case even when I was living in Syria.'' Daughter of the Syrian poet Mohamed Omran, Rasha has long also contributed op-eds and essays to Middle Eastern publications in addition to writing poems. ''Art and literature play an important role in connecting culture, but perhaps,'' she said, ''explaining to the world what is happening in Syria is too big of a mission for poetry.'' (ANSAmed).

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