- Syrian Arab Republic -
Hamed Abboud born 1987 in Deir al-Zor in Syria; while living in Aleppo he studied Telecommunications Science. He spent his childhood partly in Algeria until civil war forced his familiy to move back to Syria. At the end of 2012 Hamed Abboud fled from his home country and made his way via Egypt, Dubai and Turkey to Austria, where he arrived by the end of 2014. In Syria and in the Middle East he has been publishing in newspapers and magazines since 2005; in 2012 his first volume of poetry was re- leased: Der Regen der ersten Wolke / The first cloud’s rain (Verlag Arwad Publishers International Inc.).
In 2017 the Swiss publishing house pudelundpischer edited a wonderful bilingual sample of texts in Arabian (translated by Larissa Bender) and German: Der Tod backt einen Geburtstagskuchen / Death is baking a birthdaycake, followed by the children’s book Der Ritter der Schlüssel / Knight of the keys (translation by Kerstin Wilsch, Baobab Verlag 2018); the Austrian publishing house Edition Korre- spondenzen 2020 released In meinem Bart versteckte Geschichten / Stories hidden in my beard (translated by Larissa Bender and Kerstin Wilsch).
Hamed Abboud currently lives in Vienna.
Death (…) baking a birthday cake might be a good introduction into irritation – at least at first glance. There are several reasons, though, why death is enjoying himself in this world, why death is able to show his huge harvest every day.
„Death found a lot of new friends. He has to celebrate – and that’s why he is baking a birthday cake“, states Hamed Abboud. This outstanding writer and poet is far from being cynical. But he made his experiences – that kind no one should be confronted with.
Born 1987 in Deir al-Zor in Syria, he studied Telecommunications Science while living in Aleppo. Meanwhile, his hometown is destroyed, bombed down to ruins, friends and colleagues are dead. Hamed Abboud spent his childhood partly in Algeria until civil war forced his familiy to move back to Syria. At the end of 2012 Hamed Abboud fled his home country and made his way via Egypt, Dubai and Turkey to Austria by the end of 2014, together with his brother.
Lucky for Austria – not only for the writer’s community but also for a lot of people who came to Austria from Arabian speaking countries – Hamed Abboud is offering a helping hand. His skills in German are so fine developed that he is able to teach.
Need an example? Well then:
wie jeder fleißige Dichter, dass ich ins Paradies kommen werde
nach einer kurzen langweiligen Anerkennung
Sie werden auf meinen Grabstein schreiben:
In seinen letzten Augenblicken
beschimpfte er jene, die vorbeigekommen waren
und jene, die nicht vorbeigekommen waren
in astreinem Deutsch
hard-working poet I know I will go to paradise
after a brief and boring appreciation
on my tombstone will be written:
in his last moments
he insulted those who came to visit
and those who did not visit
in straight German
This not only shows Hamed Abboud’s brilliant German but also his overwhelming sense of humor. In an interview he states: „Either you get depressed or you start laughing about reality.“ What an attitude after this long and stony road – when no one is going to guarantee a warm welcome in the country you finally arrived in.
And once again, lucky for Austria: By a hair’s breadth Hamed Abboud would have stayed in Switzerland but then opted for Austria’s southeast, settling down in Burgenland (the federal state next to the Hungarian border) for the start. Altough meanwhile living in Vienna, Hamed Abboud still feels closely connected to the parish of Oberschützen: „I am Burgenländer. Oberschützen is my second home.“ He made friends, he knows his neighbors and they know him. In 2020 he states: „After corona I wanted lo leave Vienna, my retreat is Burgenland as I can’t go to Syria. And so the idea emerged to walk to Burgenland – this walk would be similar to our escape. Only this time without fear, owning documents, so to say in bright sunshine.“
As quoted above, Hamed Abboud is a very diligent writer. In Syria and in the Middle East he has been publishing in newspapers and magazines since 2005; in 2012 his first volume of poetry was released: Der Regen der ersten Wolke / The first cloud’s rain (Verlag Arwad Publishers International Inc.).
In 2017 the Swiss publishing house pudelundpischer edited a wonderful bilingual sample of texts in Arabian (translated by Larissa Bender) and German: Der Tod backt einen Geburtstagskuchen / Death is baking a birthdaycake, followed by the children’s book Der Ritter der Schlüssel / Knight of the keys (translation by Kerstin Wilsch, Baobab Verlag 2018), the Austrian publishing house Edition Korrespondenzen 2020 released In meinem Bart versteckte Geschichten / Stories hidden in my beard (translated by Larissa Bender and Kerstin Wilsch).
This last volume again presents Hamed Abboud’s ability to play on ironic tenor, plucking at pride and prejustice hidden in the pale perception of – well probably lots of even oh-so-benevolent –westeners.
The reviews are impressed with the poet, the writer of prose and the creator of a wonderful children’s book.
After the release of Death is baking a birthdaycake Ivan Schnyder (041–Das Kulturmagazin«, April 2017)writes:
„Hamed Abboud is not only presenting depressing texts, branded by loss and pain but also funny, fanciful and now and then sarcastic lines. The opener I want to drive a tank is remembering Allen Ginzberg’s The Green Automobile (…) This book is a lucky strike for literature.“
Julia Stephan (Luzerner Zeitung 2017) states:
„The author is encasing scenes of war into the imagery of Marvel-Comics and compares the destructions of war to the overturn of dominoes standing side by side. Destruction may seem to be planless but for the one to tap the first token, hoping for biggest possible damage, it is methodical.“
Edition Korrespondenzen (Vienna), where Hamed Abboud’s Stories hidden in my beard was released, sees the author’s new book in the light of steady development, leaving war and terror behind in his writing, concentrating on a glance at life in Europe, including all the irritations and differences in cultural mentalities, looking for a room of his own in this new home.
„His black beard – men’s pride – suddenly turns into suspicion of terrorism, liberal-minded dress-codes make him sweat inside (…) in a satirical counteracting way Hamed Abboud is turning his own experiences, completing them with powerful associations as long as destiny has to offer a good moment – how small or absurd it may be.“
I wrote about death to tire the grim reaper / كتبتُ عن الموتِ لأُنهِكَه
I wrote about death to tire the grim reaper,
and I write about life to grasp it.
I’m a reasonable poet, writing reasonable
to render this unreasonable life bearable.
I’m not inclined to write today.
Yet I have a few stale lines from
Still good enough
to be sold,
so that I can flee to another country.
When I was young / عندما كنتُ صغيرا
When I was young,
I dreamt that God was playing hide and seek with me,
only to disappear.
I’m the sperm / أنا النطفة التي وصلتْ
I’m the sperm that
without any desire to be or not to be.
I would’ve gladly just been passing through,
someone who’s recalled from time to time.
I’m the sperm that arrived and
mourned for the brothers,
and left me
To my future, large-hearted wife / الى زوجتي الكريمة المستقبلية:
To my future, large-hearted wife:
I was in prison for three days, yet you should
that I turned myself in voluntarily.
The prison cell had room for many.
One of them wrote “Syria” on the wall.
Another carved “hope”
under the window.
Saddened by this world / حزينٌ على هذا العالم وفرحٌ لأنني جزء منه
Saddened by this world, and
gladdened to be a part of it.
I will donate my corpse to the medical students / سأتبرعُ بجثتي للطلاب
I will donate my corpse to the
to leave them a few true facts on the
which they should discover,
lying on a table of stainless steel,
after they’ve carried me in a black bag
to the garbage disposal.
I can hate you while I peel an orange / أستطيعُ أن أكرهك وأنا أقشر برتقالة
I can hate you while I peel
quite simply because I’m sitting on the back
of this wild and crazy life,
like in a rodeo,
as though I could easily remember where
your birthmarks are,
although you have so many.
I can say your name several times
without the sun knocking on my door.
And drink a glass of milk and go to bed
without waiting for your letter
that is saturated with the beloved scent of envy.
I can hate you
while I peel an orange and injure
Without caring about the blood that soured,
as the chemistry
of both our bodies altered, and we dissipated
there as steam,
coming down to Earth in the wrong place.
We will return / سنعود
We will return,
perhaps after years of exile and
life as refugees.
We will have passports and blue eyes, which
we aren’t yet
and different kinds of smiles and
and on the threshold of our country of Syria,
we will dispose of everything.
In the name of our father, who sent us into exile,
so that we might not die.
In the name of our mother, who bore us with an injured
We will return.
Like a child, who throws away the expensive gifts from
only to play again with the clay
on the bank of the river.
Now we are proud of the cities / أصبحنا نتفاخر بمدن لجوئنا ونثأر ممن يتكلم عليها بالعاطل
Now we are proud of the cities, to which we
have fled, and
want to revenge ourselves on those, who
I want to drive a tank / Ich möchte einen Panzer fahren
If I only knew how to drive a tank
I would have borrowed one
from an enemy Or a friend
Everyone owns a tank but me
I would have taken you onboard
In a drive fit for this war
For you to see life as soldiers do
Through a rectangular opening in a door
Then you might find them an excuse for destroying your favorite church
Just before you denounced their God
They never saw God over that church
Through that rectangular hole in the door
Nor did they see him in the confession stand
Behind a wall adorned with vines and sins
But they heard of Him whenever someone shouted His name
They forced Him into their hearts and He forced Himself out
I would have taken you for a stroll over that minaret tossed aside in the street
Without it being a miracle
The minaret puts its ear against the street
Like a red Indian listening to the footsteps of those approaching
and those departing from far away to further still
If I knew how to drive a tank
My brothers would argue who would ride next to me
Since we lost the roof of our country
All tanks will also be convertible
We bared our heads
And waited for the heavy echo of the prayers
Like a man obsessed with cleanliness and prestige
I would have polished my tank
Even if its borrowed
And wiped the glass of the rectangular window
For a better view
A cleaner war
And for martyrs dying with all their birthmarks and in their real skin
After giving it back
I don't want a fair martyr to die because he looked darker in that window
We want our murders clear and pure
In three dimensions and intentions
Like a maniac
I would have pulled the shroud through the barrel back and forth
An active war deserves clean barrels
With no mud, no bird nests or white doves standing on them and clouding their focus
I do not want people to say "he ruined our war with his rusty tank"
A friend form the village stole a tank and took it to the river
It stripped naked performed ablution in the Euphrates and brought down a suspension bridge
They said it was a misunderstanding
The bridge saw the tank from above and thought it shamelessly erect
The tank thought the bridge a flying sidewalk
From that small rectangular window
It was infuriating not to see the ferric cords
The tank drew first
I was not brave enough
I only tattooed my tank
"For you, my county"
I used to wave to my enemies
To my friends
Not to come close
My tank gets migraines
I do not know when the next episode will attack
If I knew how to drive a tank
I would have allowed your room to slip from the second floor to the third
I would have misfired then and hit the minaret instead
It was the only reason the minaret tumbled down
The minaret is more deserving of that shell than your window
Haven't we learned after all these assaults
That the right cheek of religion can take more smiting than that of the heart?
They aimed towards your shawl to murder it
Those deviants loved seeing your neck in the morning
I will borrow it
Do not fret
The horn of my tank will not disturb you
While I wait for you in the street
I will fire a hundred and forty-seven shells while you finish your makeup
The neighbors will whisper
"Look, she made friends with tough guys"
Despite my weak heart
Despite my Russian-made tank
I would have loved you from my heart
Lying as I am in the heart of my tank
On my way to you
I saw a short yellow tank decorated with black spots
I was jealous and I missed you more
I used to fire a shell for you every time I thought of you
All the time
And you laugh
Only you know the reason behind this random raid
I stopped people thinking of you
I stopped mothers knocking your door
Do you know now why are you not married?
I'm still faithful to my word
You will not be another's
I am the jealous man with the borrowed tank
I sit in my tank
I droop my head to the ground
My barrel standing high over the minaret
"What have we done, Lord"
"How did we commit this vast road of death"
It would have been beautiful if I had you and a teapot and sat at the border
To protect it
To water it with what remains in the plastic cup
How elegant it would have been
If the bridge kept flying
If the shameless tank had covered its loins
How beautiful it would have been
If the tank broke down
If its roar became silent
And we heard our mother calling
"Come. We have watermelons and white cheese for supper"
On a sunny day, the tank flew off to God
It pounded and paved the road
And we crossed to heaven on a very wide street
On a sunny day, my loved one flew away
While I waved to her with the keys to my tank
I had a dried onion at the end of my keychain
I hung it up to make sadness cry if it ever came..
The phone cord was too long
Long enough for passengers to trip near me
While I flirted with you
And promised you a joyride in my tank
It was long enough for me to tie the tank
And drag it behind me to keep it from returning to its owner
My enemies, my friends
Owners of tanks, children of shellsTranslated by Marian Kamal
I would like a new life / أريد حياة جديدة
I would like a new life
in order to make the same mistakes in a better
This mourning / هذا الحزن
I’m a very diligent poet. / أنا شاعر شاطر جداً
I’m a very diligent poet.
I don’t always write,
and don’t stare at politics.
I don’t drink milk.
I pee standing in the corners and crevasses
of foreign cities.
I envy my friends’ success stories, and
I make an effort.
like every diligent poet, that I will enter
after a short, boring period of recognition.
They will write on my gravestone:
In his final moments
he insulted those, who came to visit,
and those, who did not visit,
in his straight German.