Faraj Bayrakdar

«If I were just a political opponent, they could break my will, the ability to withstand the harsh conditions of the prison. But poetry able to save me, give my life a meaning and a different value from that which was wanted». Born in 1951, Faraj Bayrakdar is a Syrian poet in exile in Sweden. He was detained and tortured between 1987 and 1995 in one of the most infamous prisons of the Hafez Assad (father of current President Bashar) regime, accused of having ties to the Syrian Communist Party. His poetry, deeply marked by his imprisonment, is a painful ode to individual liberty and the ideal escape from imprisonment: «I spent the first six years in prison completely cut off from the external world – he wrote in the introduction to "Il luogo stretto" (2016), the first collection of his works to be published in Italy – without radio or newspapers or visits, and no access to pen and paper. This is why I exercised my memory, so I could write on it directly, just as our ancestors did before the spread of writing. With poetry, it was possible». The author of four poetry collection, he won the Hellman-Hammet Prize in 1998; the International PEN Award in 1999 and the Free Word Award in 2004 from NOVIB in the Netherlands.

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