This collection follows an extraordinary individual, my father. A complex man who exhibited brilliance within a dark cosmos of bitterness and cynicism. His family came to America from Aleppo, Syria in the early 20th century seeking economic freedom. In Syria, they were poor. A chaotic political environment caused by a world war, the defeat of the ruling Turks and the occupation by the French drove them.. Within the upheaval, my father was born. He was every bit the Arab wrapped in a package of a Jew. A lover of Arab culture, music, language, and foods, he was still a Jew bound to defend the Jewish world against the Arab nations lined up against it. His life was made harder by the poverty and lack of education he experienced. His parents only knew Arabic, were illiterate and dependent on government relief; they lived in a tenement walkup above a grocery store Brooklyn. The six children left school in their pre-teens to support the family. This doomed my father and created resentment. 'Dumb Syrians' he would call his parents. This lead to menial jobs in factories doing work for which he was unsuited (a thin-frame man who suffered curvature of the back from an old injury). Bitter, yes. The bitterness pill was inherited from his mother. The daughter of Elias Sassoon, a wealthy merchant and doctor from Isfahan, Iran who immigrated to Syria with his wife and three girls, she felt cheated when her father, Elias would take a second wife (polygamy was legal) and have male children who would inherit the family fortune and carry it to America. My father's mother would marry a poor, illiterate Syrian. That was never forgotten. The resentment passed to my father. Mother and son could be heard ranting about what their fate and what was done to them. Allah had played a trick and was laughing down on them, an evil Allah. The poetry collections attempts to clarify a life that remains a puzzle to the son of a bitter and perplexing father. Whether that effort succeeds or not is up to the reader to determine.
Syrian Father: Poems of the Son
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