Poem from Syria Becomes Part of Haunting Composition ‘Songish’

& Arablit

The sounds of flute and poem tangle and rip in the composition “Songish,” as performed by Chicago-based flautist Shanna Gutierrez:

Dima Yousf Dima Yousf

The untitled poem, composed by Palestinian-Syrian writer Dima Yousf and translated by Fawaz Azem, appeared on ArabLit in 2014.

Yousf (b. 1986, pictured), graduated from Damascus University with a degree in Arabic literature. She has taught Arabic in Damascus schools, and said in 2014 that she was pursuing a graduate degree “but with a stay of execution.” A post from back then, on her Facebook page, read “I have so many stories to tell, if I survive.”

Among these stories is the movement of her poem, via Azem’s translation, to the work of classical musician in Chicago. As Azem explains in his own Facebook post, flautist Shanna Gutierrez was working on a project with Amsterdam-based musician Wiek Hijmans “that required me to find a text that spoke to me for inclusion in the piece…”


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