Pencils and Ammunition

Yasmin Fedda is the director of Hala Mohammad: Waiting for Spring, a documentary as part of the POETS IN PROTEST series, made by SDI Productions for Al Jazeera English. 

Hala Mohammad

I have been visiting Syria all of my life, and when the uprising began I felt hopeful that much-needed change would come to the country. However, as time goes on, and more people are killed, it becomes a more and more painful struggle. At the same time, it has been inspiring to see and read about the artistic work and courage of protesters in Syria.

I wanted to find out more about how Syrian poets are responding to the conflict and uprising in their country. When I came across the poems of Hala Mohammad I was struck by their clear, refined structures and use of everyday language to evoke her feelings and thoughts about what was happening in her country as she watched from afar, exiled in Paris.

I was drawn to her poetry, especially her poem about children caught up in this conflict and uprising. In a section of  it she writes: 

Lead Pencils
that the family at home
worked together to sharpen
to pack them in the satchel

with lead ammunition
they wilt away

After reading this, I realised that many children were involved and there were many videos uploaded to the internet which included children taking part in protests and being arrested, tortured and killed. I wanted to use her poem to be able to tap into this reality on the ground, but to express its difficulties in a poetic way, and her poem was the best vehicle for that. 

I also wanted to use this film to highlight the work of artists, poets and protesters on the ground in Syria, people who have been finding creative ways to express and resist ever increasing violence and oppression.

This episode of POETS OF PROTEST can be seen on Al Jazeera English from Friday 7 September at the following times GMT: Friday 19:30; Saturday 14:30; Sunday 04:30; Monday: 08:30. British Summer Time is GMT+1h.