Voices above the chaos: female war poets from the Middle East

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The carnage in Turkey and Syria has led to a blossoming of poetry – with women at the forefront. Here, two of them, one Syrian and one Kurdish, tell their stories

The Syrian city of Aleppo crumbles into rubble, assailed by Russian bombs, government artillery and chemical weapons. In the heat of battle, Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters turn on one another, fighting their age-old war, though both are supposed to be fighting a common enemy, Islamic State (Isis), advancing on the battered, tortured civilians of Aleppo and other Syrian and Kurdish communities in a murderous pincer movement.

So the Middle East continues to implode – but amid the chaos emerges a further force, perhaps incredibly, a poetic and literary one. It comes in defiant journalism, like the story televised last week of a gardener in Aleppo who was killed by bombs while tending his roses and his son, who helped him, orphaned.

I’m Kurdish, and you learn early that others do not regard or accept the land in which you are born as your own

Poetry should be an anti-weapon, a means of abating the weapons

Related: A week in Aleppo – in pictures

Related: The Very Quiet Foreign Girls poetry group | Kate Clanchy

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