Monday, November 1, 2021



This year Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to Novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah. Swedish academy acknowledges his achievement of ‘uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents’. Abdulrazak Gurnah was born in 1948 on the island of Zanzibar, Africa. He has emigrated to Britain as a student at the age of 20. He has done his Ph.D. at the age of 34. He was Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Kent's Department of English. According to the literary critics, he is ‘one of the most subtle and perceptive writers of our postcolonial world and its uprooted lives’. For decades, his novels have created an intoxicating, complex tapestry out of the experiences of colonialism, revolution, exile, and migration. 

Abdulrazak Gurnah has published ten novels and several short stories. The theme of the refugee’s disruption and displacement runs throughout his work. He began writing as a 21-year-old immigrant in England. Although Swahili was his first language, English is the language he took up to explore through his creative brilliance. It has become a trend for immigrants not to use their native languages. We should notice, mostly all these immigrant writers and creative persons are from third-world countries. And eventually, they like to settle in Europe and USA. So, to survive and thrive as a successful citizen they use the language of the land where they settle. It allows them to become famous internationally. It helps immensely to gain popularity and acclamation among the people of their chosen land. So, they abandon their native language as a literary tool. This trend may enrich the literature and language of the land where they settle but, it never enriches the literature and languages of the lands from where they emigrate. It is an ongoing tragedy of the post-colonialism era for the countries and cultures of Africa and Asia. Novelist and writer Abdulrazak Gurnah has followed the same path. He has emerged as one of the contemporary writers of the English language and literature. And this Nobel prize acknowledges this trend.

Anders Olsson, chairman of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy wrote, “Gurnah’s dedication to truth and his aversion to simplification is striking. This can make him bleak and uncompromising, at the same time as he follows the fates of individuals with great compassion and unbending commitment. His novels recoil from stereotypical descriptions and open our gaze to a culturally diversified East Africa unfamiliar to many in other parts of the world. In Gurnah’s literary universe, everything is shifting – memories, names, identities. This is probably because his project cannot reach completion in any definitive sense. An unending exploration driven by intellectual passion is present in all his books, and equally prominent now, in Afterlives, as when he began writing as a 21-year-old refugee.”

According to Gurnah’s longtime editor, Alexandra Pringle, his win was “most deserved” for a writer who has not previously received due recognition. She elaborated further, “He is one of the greatest living African writers, and no one has ever taken any notice of him.” Pringle said Gurnah had always written about displacement, “but in the most beautiful and haunting ways of what it is that uproots people and blows them across continents”. Alexandra acclaims him as one of the greatest African writers. True, but not for Africa and its culture and literature but international readers. In my personal view, this is an ongoing tragedy for African and Asian countries. The literary and cultural progress of the countries with colonial hangovers is suffering immensely. Yet we never give due notice to it. I know, others would assert, this trend of writing in an international language instead of a native language spreads literature beyond the cultural boundaries of native languages of the third world countries. I would never deny that fact. Also, we should never forget that almost all the great literary works of Europe were the product of the native languages such as Greek, French, Russian, German, Italian, Spanish, and alike. Most of the famous literary figures of Europe had always used their native languages. Yet are well known around the whole world through translated versions of their works. But for the countries with colonial hangovers, this trend of immigrant writers and their literary activities in languages, not their own has become an international trend.

Again, let’s go through the view of Anders Olsson, chairman of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy. According to him. Gurnah has striven to avoid ‘the ubiquitous nostalgia for a more pristine pre-colonial Africa.’ I think this is an important assessment of the literary world of Abdulrazak Gurnah. One can debate over the pros and cons of pre-colonial Africa. One cannot deny the importance of the pre-colonial roots of African culture. As readers, those of us; who have never gone through the literary work of Abdulrajak Gurnah, we cannot judge the writer and his work. Still, as a reader of literature, we acknowledge the importance of the cultural roots of any literary tradition. Anders Olsson continues with his assertion, ‘Gurnah’s writing is from his time in exile but pertains to his relationship with the place he had left, which means that memory is of vital importance for the genesis of his work’. Again, let us not forget that memory and cultural root are not synonymous with each other. They may come into contact with each other. They may also remain indifferent.

The Nobel prize for literature has been awarded 118 times. Let us hope one day, it'll be conferred to one of the poets participating in the monthly web journal: Our Poetry Archive. Relentlessly we are trying our best to nurture various literary traditions around the world. We hope it’ll help others to promote their creativity to the world audience of readers. With this issue of OPA, November '2021, we have published 80 volumes of poetry since April 2015. This month we are presenting poet SHUROUK HAMMOUD of Syria as the 'Poet of The Month'. We are also publishing an interview of the poet and five of her best poems in this present issue. We hope our readers will enjoy both of her poems and the interview.


NilavoNill Shoovro

From The Editorial Desk













email us to:








NILAVRONILL: Why do literature and poetry in particular interest you so much? Please give us some idea about your own perception of literature or poetry in general.

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: Literature is a travel through time and space, we learn about places we have never heard of before and live a full life within our own lives. Nothing can be more magical than this. Poetry is the poet attempt to understand himself in the first place and then to understand the world around him. Poetry is another thing to me, it is my bed, my only true friend, between its arms I can be me without frills, I dive into my inner self, scream or may be just let him talk on my behalf. Poetry for all poets not just for me is something can't be explained, believe me. All the answers to what poetry means to a poet are deficient.


NILAVRONILL: How do you relate your own self existence with your literary life in one hand, and the time around you, in the other.

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: I think this all connected with each other. The poet became a poet because of the totality of circumstances, people, a specific time and a specific place in which he lived for a certain period. I believe that time and technological development in which we live now is a helping us to live a more extensive and intense literary life. The poet’s sense of his self-existence as a poet, and here I am talking in general not just about me, is deeply related to his literary life. We do not write for ourselves, perhaps in the beginning, but the poet is like a river that needs to flow, to move, and his literary life is its course and the land he crosses, if that is not the case, this river will turn into a swamp at worst or dried up at best.


NILAVRONILL: Do you believe creative souls flourish more in turmoil than in peace?

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: Yes, I do believe that. The creative soul is by nature a restless soul.  Just this anxiety and ferment that create a poet. Whoever lives in a state of peace and reconciliation with the world does not even need to write, for peace and tranquillity are within his reach, and they are by nature states of stillness, and this contradicts the true nature of poetry.


NILAVRONILL: Do you think in this age of information and technology the dimensions of literature have been largely extended beyond our preconceived ideas about literature in general?

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: Yes, amazingly, it seems that the train of creativity is accelerating remarkably, and the desire to transcend geographical spaces has become the obsession of all writers. Moreover, I think we succeeded in this, for example, here I am simply answering Your interview questions without being together in the same place and time. Even during the time of Corona that we are living in now, festivals have found that they can invite writers and hold a virtual literary festival for writers who never thought before that such thing could happen. As for reading, I think that reading a paper book has a special and an incomparable pleasure that we miss today, but looking at the bright side of the subject, I think that the availability of electronic books saved a lot of effort and money for lovers of reading everywhere and at the same time provided the opportunity for books to spread faster because it became easy to purchase without moving anywhere.


NILAVRONILL: Now, in this changing scenario we would like to know from your own life experiences as a poet, writer and a creative soul: How do you respond to this present time?

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: What we are experiencing in light of the Corona pandemic and other economic crises is exceptional and difficult, of course. this applies to the world as a whole, but the poet is by nature a friend of solitude as the appropriate atmosphere for contemplation and creativity, so I think that the time we live in has given me more time to dive into myself more and therefore to see the world with a different eye and this is something I am glad about in spite of all.


NILAVRONILL: Do you believe that all writers are by and large the product of their nationality? And is this an incentive for or an obstacle against becoming a truly international writer?

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: I think that we are all influenced by what is going on around us, not only by our nationality, but by what is happening in the whole world. I do not believe in conspiracy theory, but unfortunately, sometimes there is some exclusion for the participation of writers of certain nationalities in some literary festivals and even in participating in some international competitions for certain considerations. This is unfortunate, but personally, I do not lose hope that those literary institutions will someday separate literature from political considerations.


NILAVRONILL: Now, if we try to understand the tradition and modernism, do you think literature can play a pivotal role in it?  If so, how? Again, how can an individual writer relate himself or herself to the tradition and to modernism?

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: I think that modernism in writing has nothing to do with the form of the poem or the novel. Modernism is related to the ideas that are presented through the text. I think that the writer is free to choose what suits him/her by expressing what he/she wants to say freely, whether what he chose is traditional or within the framework of modernity in writing. What matters, in my opinion, is to be able to inspire, entertain the mind and to deliver the message he/she wants to deliver.


NILAVRONILL: Do you think literary criticism has much to do with the development of a poet and the true understanding of his or her poetry?

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: Yes, it can play a role in the development of poets if it comes from the critic who deeply understands that poetry. However, poetry itself can't be explained, it is like to explain a cloud.


NILAVRONILL: Do you think society as a whole is the key factor in shaping you up as a poet, or your poetry altogether?

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: Society plays a role in shaping the personality of people, whether they are writers or not, and this is normal because we are all sons of our environment, but society is not the only factor that shapes a poet. Since poets are people who dive deep inside themselves, poets have this unique sense of seeing what others do not see, or let us say to see what they see, but in another way. Therefore, the answer is yes and no at the same time.


NILAVRONILL: Do you think people in general actually bother about literature?  Do you think this consumerist world is turning the average man away from serious literature?

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: Absolutely, people are busy working to provide for their families but I do believe that people, who really like to read, will find a way to do it. The problem is the number of people who read is not so big and there is a black cloud called insignificance that hangs over the topics that are presented in literary books these days.. In short, writing has turned from promoting noble ideas to a way to earn money fast regardless of the content.

NILAVRONILL: We would like to know the factors and the peoples who have influenced you immensely in the growing phase of your literary life.

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: Everything I have been through in my life has made me the person I am now. I lived in a place full of contradictions and turmoil, and two years after I started writing poetry, the war began in Syria. My writing style changed and I tended to direct from it to the figurative expression of ideas. In short, the metaphor became too narrow to bear all this anger. As for the people who influenced me in my growing phase as a poet, the list is long, but I can mention that the writings of the French poet Louis Aragon and the American poet Walt Whitman have inspired me a lot and still do.


NILAVRONILL: How would you evaluate your contemporaries and what are your aspirations for or expectation from the younger generation?

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: There is an amazing literary and poetic movement around the world and this is honourable thing. I am not in a place that allows me to evaluate the rest of the contemporary poets, but I can say that I feel happy when I read what those poets write. Their poems move freely between personal and public concerns, and the smell of revolutions is wafting from their words. And I mean here a revolution against everything, starting with the ideas that the poets who preceded them used to write about and not ending with the revolution against the traditional form of the poem and destroying the taboos that, not long ago, had surrounded the spirit of poetry and prevented it from flying. As for my aspirations from the younger generation of poets: I dream of nothing more than they keep on believing in poetry, simply the same that I wish for myself too.


NILAVRONILL: Humanity has suffered immensely in the past, and is still suffering around the world. We all know it well. But are you hopeful about our future?

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: I feel sometimes that we were born from the womb of waiting, waiting for freedom, waiting for justice or may be waiting for life. Hope is a chronic disease from which we do not want to be cured, and we can only hope for a better future, if not for us, then at least for our children. We are poets and you know how good we are at dreaming.


NILAVRONILL: What role can literature in general play to bring a better day for every human being?

SHUROUK HAMMOUD: It depends all on what the reader wants to capture. Literature entertains, educates and helps human beings to understand all sides of life. It lets people get into different and magical worlds and this can be enough to make their days better.


SHUROUK HAMMOUD "born in 1982 ", a Syrian poetess, literary translator, BA of arts graduate and a master degree graduate of text translation, Damascus. She has four published poetry collections in Arabic language and two published poetry collection in English titled:(the night papers), (Blind time), and one bilingual book in Serbian and Macedonian and a poetry book in mandarin language titled:(the world is burning), in addition; excerpts of her poetry that have been published in many poetry anthologies in France, Serbia, Mexico, Italy, Taiwan, Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, Macedonia, China, and India. A member of Palestinian writers and journalists’ union. Award winner of many local and international poetry awards. Her poetry was translated into 16 languages. She has translated also poetry of more than 50 poets from around the world.







Blind Time


Nothing new for today

 Vendors of full of coffins' newspapers

Are still in the normal mood

That accompanied them since they were born

In these countries

That god forgot on the map

Poets still pretend to have wisdom,

So as not to disappoint vanity

They still foretell life and death,

End and Salvation

At the same time


As they always did

Still copulate our dreams

With sticks made from our ribs,

And their stinking butts

Like the smell of gunpowder that emit from their mouths

And pour on our children 'bodies

Are still expanding until they become the size of the country

As for the dead

They are still reproducing

With enthusiasm of lovers

Who were born

in a blind time


This Poem Won The First Prize Of Charles Baudelaire International Award In Italy.



Poet's Identity Card


I am a yellow leaf

The wind forgot me

In a hurricane’s pocket

Sadness is my father-in-law

Since I married the poem

Feed my kids the clouds

And died in a suitcase

Isolation is my glasses' color

I am a noisy silence

Looking for a kiss

To break the glassy waiting

In my poem's eyes

I am the one who accumulated his screams

On a white paper

To turn this black world deaf

Who can but me

Seduce a sexy lady

Called heavens

So tell me

Just once

How poetry 'messenger could be a demon

While death's messenger called an angel

The psycho

Who talks to himself before the mirror

Blaming her for deforming his face

The psycho

Who wears humanity perfume

Is not a real psycho

He is a poet

He is me

But unfortunately

No one looks in the UN protocols for

The poet's properties in wisdom lands

No one tells Plato


Cities without poets

Are nothing but hell

Who can erase the blackboard's night

With a word

But the poet

Tell me who

O hope


This Poem Was Sung By A Finnish Singer Named Mia Skön And The Song Has The Same Title As The Poem.


My Handbag


My handbag is full of caution

Buttons of all sizes

For sudden holes

Needle and black threads

To sew wounds of heart and clothing as well

Empty sanitary bags for vomiting cases that occur to those who live here nowadays

Wet wipes to wipe make up' shredders.

My handbag is full of futility

Polisher for my shoes those expired by long roads

A mobile phone that is full of people 'names I cannot any longer remember

My poor quality glasses

My optometrist prescribed

On the pretext that I do not see beyond my nose

Dry cigarettes and a lighter that staggers genetically

Dried flowers and poems whose papers did not accommodate

Hankies those got tired of farewells

And you still ask me why does my back hurt?




I Am Not Here


I am not here

I am not listening to you

Some clamor had forgotten to end the call in my head

Opening my windows to the night's rusty tables,

To knives those still stuck in the necks of lovers,

Coffins the night composed on the tune of waiting,

Soldiers' shoes, which lost their owners,

Bags the vacuum has burdened,

Seas, which belch the prayers of the ones who died on their way to life,

Songs those mock the departed,

A sky that tightens the dawn's ear,

Houses, which changed their names,

Flags whose colors got throaty

And barricades whose sands ran away from the noise of their voices..

To awakening speeches

However, no one left to read,

So please; do not scratch my silence

I am not with you

Some tomb had forgotten the phone hanged on inside my head

Then turned the curtain down.



Interview With The Remains

Of A Syrian Man



What did the war do with the air?

-it furnished it with heartbreaks,

With canned salt and smoke.

What were you waiting for before you died?

-I was waiting for a dawn's smile I painted as a lover in my imagination.

What the trees dream about when you told them about the wind that would take you?

-they dreamed of dancing

They dreamed of many other things; they did not say a word about.

Was there other space that rains in your daydreams?

-yes, and in my night dreams it got me;

so, I got pregnant with another alienation.

Are you the same person before and after the war?

-no one comes back from war empty-handed.



SHUROUK HAMMOUD "born in 1982 ", a Syrian poetess, literary translator, BA of arts graduate and a master degree graduate of text translation, Damascus. She has four published poetry collections in Arabic language and two published poetry collection in English titled:(the night papers), (Blind time), and one bilingual book in Serbian and Macedonian and a poetry book in mandarin language titled:(the world is burning), in addition; excerpts of her poetry that have been published in many poetry anthologies in France, Serbia, Mexico, Italy, Taiwan, Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, Macedonia, China, and India. A member of Palestinian writers and journalists’ union. Award winner of many local and international poetry awards. Her poetry was translated into 16 languages. She has translated also poetry of more than 50 poets from around the world.





Why The Opportunism Of A Tadpole

Dries Up A Bog


We missed each other by a hair’s breadth

it was written in a testament

although there were other signs of transience


The opportunism of a tadpole

dries up a bog

and pushes the water lilies into a frenzied escape

and the storks weren’t indifferent either

they went back to their obligations

of lethargic resignation


On the doorstep of a barren woman

an empty bundle

although she had gotten a cradle

and had bought things for the baby


She listened to the crying of a child

in a nest on a chimney of the house

and, on her own hook, she wanted to climb the roof


The air smelled of a late fall

which was announced by reluctant locusts

Only the bees, by their habit,

flew around stalks of the wizened flowers

looking for the honey


In the nest

the child’s cry was still echoing

although the storks

have long gone.


Translation: Denisa Kondić



Desert Lullaby


I am not afraid of dreams anymore

where there is nothing

and that poison my reality

Even that dream

where a mother who just died

reproachingly says


it’s high time to wake up

dreams like that

brought me on this side

in a world of shadows

and motionless

in dreams, you forgot about me

the desert sand covered you all

you will not become an oasis


Enchanted by a dream

I am running

into your arms

That little castle

around your tender heart


I look for a shelter

in your warm smile

your eyes of mellowness

summarizing and counting days

desert days

and all others

that we seized together

from the eternity


Translation: Denisa Kondic



Desert Is The Target That Can't Be Missed


Oasis’ sprout

And tender mirages

From the silence of yore

Nomads pull invisible tents on the sand

They pull the loneliness of ages

And believe

that only a water droplet

from the center of the Earth

that a camel can sense

that only one droplet

can quench the thirst of the whole desert


Nomads my Dear

don’t chase anyone

While they live in the desert

the water finds them from the sand

They are fed by everlasting hunger

that makes them survive


Sometimes in an idle moment


an arrow

or a bow

in secrecy draws

and aims at the abundance of time


All that I have come to know

Before this story


Draw a bow in your chests

Shoot the arrow that poisons your heart

And wait for me my love


Wait for me

since the desert is the target

that can’t be missed


Translation: Denisa Kondić




VESELIN MISNIC: He is a contemporary Serbian and Montenegrin writer. He was born in Mojkovac, Montenegro. As a novelist, story writer, poet, satirist, essayist, he published around forty books in the mentioned genres. He has been translated into about twenty languages. His work has been included in all important collections, almanacs, encyclopedias, and anthologies. He has been awarded several important Serbian prizes: “Risto Ratkovic,” “Radoje Domanovic,” “Dragisa Kasikovic,” “Vojislav Brkovic,” “Milan Rakic,” “A seal of Prince Lazar,” “Simo Matavulj” and more. He is a member of the Associations of Serbian Writers and the Association of Writers of Montenegro. The writer lives and creates in Belgrade, Serbia.