Shifting Gears: Syrian Poetry and the Escuelita

The moment to spread my academic wings and soar into the dawn of CPGC-sponsored research in Mexico has finally arrived. With an academic project thrown into the mix of reception and committee work, extracurriculars and events, I’ve been searching for new strategies to balance my time, allot my energy, and sustain the inspiration that comes with taking on new, exciting projects.

As I mentioned briefly in my last post, my research will be focused on literature of exiled writers in Mexico. The base of my materials and operations: Casa Refugio. It’s an organization that was founded by Salmon Rushdie to house and publish exiled writers. It publishes a quarterly magazine called Líneas de Fuga,  as well as various works of writers housed through its year-long artist-in-residency program. The writer I became interested in working with is a Syrian poet by the name of Mohamad Alaedin Moula, who edited the latest edition of Líneas de fuga featuring Modern Syrian Poetry, and has published several collections of poetry in Mexico.

The main research question I will seek to answer by studying Moula’s work and other contemporary exiled writers in Mexico is, what is it like to be exiled in Mexico? What realities, freedoms are made possible to these writers here? I’m also interested in what these writers have to say about the reality of cultural and social integration in Mexico, as well as how Mexico is perceived as a place conducive to literary freedom, and as a place of refuge for exiled writers and asylum seekers alike. So far in what I’ve read of Mohamad Moula, his focus has been external, inviting readers to gaze outward at Syria with a profound sense of nostalgia and loss for his home country. Little mention is made of Mexico, though that perspective is what most interests me. Given that Mexican society and economy can be an extremely inhospitable and closed place, what does the outward gaze of the exiled writer have to say about Mexico and home.

Mohamad Moula has also been active in the work of Casa Refugiados, teaching Arabic classes and becoming active in cultural events of the community. I hope to interview him in the next couple of weeks in order to understand his poetry better and have more direct answers to the questions I’m interested in.

And tomorrow the Escuela de Derechos Humanos starts! This group of 45 students, activists, and workers in other social-justice related fields will come together every Saturday to learn about human rights topics in Mexico. Some of the sessions of the school include rights related to natural resources, non-discrimination, gender, sexual and reproductive issues, indigenous and migrant communities, among many others.

The eight-month course will culminate in a project related to a human rights issue of our choosing. The reality is that this space will offer so many possibilities for new collectives, projects, and human-rights related groups to form. I found out just last week that a group we collaborate with, COAMI (Colectivo de Apoyo para Personas Migrantes), is a collective formed from students of the 10th generation of the Escuela DH.

It’s a beautiful Spring day outside (and my computer is dying), so I need to get out of the dim Volunteer Office and enjoy a day off!


Check out the beautiful flowers blossoming in our patio! (Not to make all you all still knee-deep in winter envious.)