Distance and Nearness - Poetry in a Time of War
In spring 2017 the joint poetry collection Me Here You There by Palestinian-Syrian poet Ghayath Almadhoun and the former Poet of the Fatherland Anne Vegter was published. For Writers Unlimited, they have collaborated with two exceptional musical talents: the Hague-Syrian-Palestinian oud-player and music professor Amer Shanati and singer-songwriter Stefka.
Vegter wrote the following about the creation of Me Here You There: "I first heard Ghayath Almadhoun during an interview with his translator Djûke Poppinga. He said that he fled Syria before the civil war broke out. He asked for asylum in Sweden and wrote the Poem 'I Cannot Be Present' in Stockholm, which articulates his discomfort at the distance between himself and the war in his native country.
As someone born and living in a safe country, my situation is of course much different. The world is burning and I refuse to look the other way. It's easy to do so with a roof over my head. My own discomfort led me to write poetry about war. My war is not his war. Ghayath and I decided to collaborate on a volume of poetry: his voice, my voice, my poems, his poems."