13-year-old Amineh Abou Kerech is the proud winner of the Betjeman poetry prize for her poem “Lament for Syria” which was written half in English, half in Arabic. “I take words from anywhere,” Amineh told the Guardian. “I take them from songs and films, from what I see on the computer or the television. And I put them all together.”
According to the writing competition’s website, young poets, ages 10-13, are tasked to write on the theme of ‘place’, with the aim to “encourage young people to look closely at their environment and to question where they come from and who they are.”
“When I remember my Syria I feel so sad and I cry and start writing about her” recounted the young poet. Amineh and her family fled Syria at the start of the war, five years ago, and eventually resettled in Egypt where Amineh first started to write down her feelings and experiences. Last summer the family relocated again to the UK where Amineh is learning not only English but a new culture.
Amineh tells the Guardian that she doesn’t remember her country very well though, as the publication points out, her poem suggests otherwise. As she writes: A land where people pick up a discarded piece of bread / So that it does not get trampled on … a place where old ladies would water jasmine trees at dawn.
Click to read: Lament for Syria