A World of Poets: Tal al-Mallouhi

In celebration of World Poetry Day, all this week we are paying tribute to poets who have been persecuted or imprisoned in violation of their right to free expression.

Today we are honouring Syrian poet Tal al-Mallouhi, the youngest female blogger currently in detention.


You will remain an example

I will walk with all walking people
And no
I will not stand still
Just to watch the passers by
This is my Homeland
In which
I have
A palm tree
A drop in a cloud
And a grave to protect me

This is more beautiful
Than all cities of fog
And cities which
Do not recognise me
My master:
I would like to have power
Even for one day
To build the “republic of feelings.”

(Translated by Ghias al-Jundi)


Tal al-Mallouhi is a young poet who was only 19 years old when she was arrested in her home city of Homs more than two years ago, in December 2009. She was sentenced to five years in prison in February 2011, convicted of spying for a foreign country. She is still in prison, with little access to her family – a situation aggravated by the recent conflict. For more on her case, please  click here


Suggested Actions

To mark World Poetry Day (21 March), all this week we are encouraging our members and supporters to set aside a few minutes to take action for poets of concern to PEN.

Share Tal’s poem

To raise and maintain awareness of Tal al-Mallouhi’s case, please help us to get her poem published as widely as possible – in newspapers, on notice boards, on websites, blogs and social networks. (Please do let us know the details of any publications in the comments box below.)

You may also wish to write your own creative responses to ‘You Will Remain An Example’, and to post these on your own blogs and websites. Please do send us any work produced (writersinprison@englishpen.org) so that we are able to send copies directly to Tal and consider them for publication on the English PEN website.

Translate Tal’s poem

In order to make Tal’s voice heard more widely, we would love for her poem ‘You Will Remain An Example’ to be available in as many languages as possible. If you are interested in translating the poem, please email writersinprison@englishpen.org and let us know which language you would like to translate her poem into.

Send Tal a poem or a book

We have long been encouraging our members to send books and poems to persecuted and imprisoned writers around the world through our Books To Prisoners Programme. These can not only provide comfort to the recipient, but also serve as a non-confrontational way to remind authorities that the international community is watching. If you are interested in sending a poem or book to Tal please email cat@englishpen.org for more details and the address of the prison where she is detained.

Thank you for your support.

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

3 Comments on “A World of Poets: Tal al-Mallouhi”

  1. I am interested in quoting Tal’s poem in my latest novel about a migrant domestic worker living in Britain and suffering abuse at the hands of her employer- it is due to be  published by Simon and Schuster in Aug 2013.
    Is there any copyright issue?

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