Amir Darwish is a British/Syrian poet of Kurdish origin. He was born in Aleppo in 1979 and came to the UK as an asylum seeker during the Second Gulf War. His poetry has been published in the USA, Pakistan, Finland, Morocco and Mexico and in the anthology Break-Out. He lives in Middlesbrough.
He will be reading from Don’t Forget the Couscous, a book of poetry about exile and home, love and loss. It is a beautiful love-song to the Arab world – Syria, Kurdistan, Morocco, Palestine and his native Aleppo. It is a memoir of the failed Arab Spring and the civil-war that has turned his native Syria into a ‘fountain of blood’. It’s a bitter account of the demonization of Islam in the West, and the violent interference of the West in the Islamic world. It is about being a Muslim and not a terrorist.
Amir Darwish draws on the magical-realism of Naguib Mahfouz, the social satire of Muhammad al-Maghut and the love poetry of Rumi to describe the experience of Islam in Europe – from ‘a Friday night doner kebab after a good night out’ to a ‘girl who has taken off the hijab in order to feel safe’ and ‘a mosque with broken windows’. It is a book about travel and love, and an apology on behalf of Muslims everywhere for having contributed nothing to the modern world except astronomy, coffee, clocks, algebra, falafels, apricots and doner kebabs. And don’t forget the couscous…
Sunday 13 March, 7.30pm, £5/£4 according to pocket. Readers from the floor welcome.