Two Poems from Maram Al-Masri

3 March, 2024,

The Abduction (White Pine Press) refers to an autobiographical event in Maram Al-Masri’s life. When, as a young Arab woman living in France, she decides to separate from her husband with whom she has a child, the father kidnaps the baby and returns to Syria. Al-Masri won’t see her son for thirteen years. This is the story of a woman denied the basic right to raise her child. These are haunting, spellbinding poems of love, despair, and hope, a delicate, profound and powerful book on intimacy, a mother’s rights, war, exile, and freedom. Maram Al-Masri embodies the voice of all parents, who one day, for whatever the reason, have been forcibly separated from their loved ones. She writes about the status of women, seeking to reconcile her role as a mother with her writing work. The terrible war that has devastated her native country since 2011 has painfully affected her. 


Maram Al-Masri





Two poems by Maram Al-Masri


I don’t want to grow old

I don’t want to grow old
so my child recognizes me
the day he comes back
to see me

I don’t want to die
like my mother
because I have a child
though not in my arms
but one day
for certain
he will need me


The Abduction by Maram Al-Masri - Helene Cardona
The Abduction by Maram Al-Masri is published by White Pine Press.
The world is hard, my son

The world is hard, my son
hard as a machine gun magazine
hard as the walls of a detention center
hard as the look of contempt
I didn’t warn you to wait before coming to join me
I didn’t warn you, little plants
get easily trampled
I didn’t warn you, here you must be strong
here they like diplomas
they like bank accounts
I warn you, the drowned
cannot save
the drowning

you will always be
in the crosshairs of suspicion
I didn’t warn you, immigrants arrive fragile
as infants


Maram Al-Masri was born in Latakia, Syria, and moved to France following the completion of English Literature studies at Damascus University. Her books include MétropoèmesJe te regardeCerise rouge sur un carrelage blancLe RaptElle va nue la libertéPar la fontaine de ma bouche (Bruno Doucey), A Red Cherry on a White-tiled Floor (Copper Canyon), Le retour de Wallada, and the anthologies Femmes poètes du monde arabe and La poésie des femmes kurdes. Al-Masri’s literary prizes include the Prix d’Automne 2007 de Poésie de la Société des Gens De Lettres, the Adonis Prize, the Premio Citta di Calopezzati, Il Fiore d’Argento, and the Dante Alighieri Prize. She is a member of the Parlement des écrivaines francophones and was appointed Ambassador of the Secours Populaire in France and citoyenne d’honneur of Vendenheim. In 2017, the Maram Al-Masri Prize was created, which rewards poetry and graphic works.

Hélène Cardona’s bilingual collections include Life in Suspension and Dreaming My Animal Selves (both Salmon Poetry) and the translations The Abduction (Maram Al-Masri, White Pine Press), Birnam Wood (José Manuel Cardona, Salmon Poetry), Beyond Elsewhere (Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, White Pine Press), Ce que nous portons (Dorianne Laux, Éditions du Cygne), and Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings (University of Iowa’s WhitmanWeb). Her own work has been translated into 19 languages. The recipient of over 20 honors & awards, including the Independent Press Award, a Hemingway Grant and an Albertine and FACE Foundation Prize, she holds an MA in American Literature from the Sorbonne, received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut and Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, worked as a translator for the Canadian Embassy, and taught at Hamilton College and Loyola Marymount University. She is a member of the Parlement des écrivaines francophones.

civil warfamilymotherhoodParissonsSyriaSyrian poetwriting

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