The raven says: “Love runs like a rabbit and separation walks like a turtle; this is how children tell the story”

Actually this is how Basem Suliman a Syrian writer and poet tell us his own stories, carrying our souls toward a wonderland that is full of animals but does not resemble “Alice in Wonderland”. He explains that his “use of animals and animal activities is a metaphor for considering animals as a cultural datum, whereas typically humans are the only source of cultural evidence.” 

Even using the word “Raven” as a penname is clear testimony of his philosophy as regarding animals as a source of inspiration and a projection of human experience. Many references to ravens exist in world lore and literature. Because of its black plumage, croaking call and diet of carrion, the raven is often associated with loss and ill omen. Yet its symbolism is complex. As a talking bird, the raven also represents prophecy and insight. Ravens in stories often act as psychopomps, connecting the material world with the world of spirits

 Whereas Basem Suliman have another saying concerning ravens “In Eastern methodology ravens are said to be a symbol of bad luck, and were the god's messengers in the mortal world. On the other hand the raven, which also has a prominent role in the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, is the Creator of the world, but is also considered a trickster god which exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge, and uses it to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and conventional behavior.” He explains to Syriatimes. “And I like playing tricks and being unconventional” he exclaimed sarcastically.

Basem Suliman has many creative works ranging from poetry, story, and novel. The first was a poem collection “First Formation”(2007), then an anecdotal collection "Quite a Kiss" (2009), then another poem collection “untouched” (2011), and his only novel “Nokia” (2014), “Butterfly Claw” (2015) a poem collection, up to his latest work “The Parrot Clown of the Forest”, in which animals utter poetry.

Concerning his choice of the title “The Parrot Clown of the Jungle” Basem Suliman tells us” The title is segmented from a verse, in which I say:

“The parrot is the clown of the jungle
It does not mimic animal voice
Rather
The voice of a human being”


The clown played an important role in the renewal of life, whether on the level of myth or by emptying the deadly existential congestion, in the palace court, and from here appears irony and sarcasm as a fundamental immanence of this poem collection. 

When we asked for an explanation to take the forest as a muse to deliver prose poetry, Basem’s answer was magical; he just recited some verses of “The Parrot Clown of the Forest” and explained “The return to the forest is a recognition of the right of our animals, plants and inanimate objects ancestors to create poetry. Therefore, the poem collection was a revolution to marginalize the centrality of man and his authoritarian board derived from his spiritual entity, as well as his position on the top of the pyramid on this rolling ball (earth), towards the unknown, so I say:

“The eye is the mirror of the soul
Blessed is the fly
It has
A thousand eyes and an eye.” 

In “Nokia”, his first novel the Syrian novelist and poet, Basem Suliman, “depicts the life of three friends, representing three levels of existence: the virtual, the imaginatory and the reality. Those characters fight each other unconsciously but agree with each other consciously, ending to one drowned will trying to traverse the sea toward Europe, the second as a legal migrant toward Canada and the third sucking their lives in homeland on the three levels (virtual- imaginatory – reality).” Detailed Basem Suliman 

 Whereas, in his story collection “ Quite a Kiss’’, the paradoxes upon which his stories are based reveal the multiplicity of questions facing his characters as they contemplate and try to understand the reality of their lives and the lives of others. Moreover, irony is a basic feature in this story collection that exacerbates the paradoxical absurdity of life and shows what lurks behind the details.

                        

In “First formation” Basem the poet, reform contemporary Syrian poetry by presenting prose poems characterized by briefness and intensification without mannerism; gambling on the poetic wager onto various readings.

“untouched” is a poetry collection which presents a thumbnail on the new Arabic poetic sensitivity today, a representation of love, homeland, hope and despair. Basem added in regards of love and war: “Love is a war that produce prosperity and fertility whereas battles only produce destruction and sterility.”

The Poems collection title has been extracted from a poem about Jesus Christ as a representation of virginity; which is metaphoric according to Suliman to his experience with poetry “I am still a virgin, capable of poetic revelation” he exclaimed.   The poems here are not preoccupied with major issues, as much as they are concerned with minor details, treating trivial daily details and contradictions, to emphasis the deeper. There are voices infiltrated from within the text, transforming language into a metaphor that carries an independent entity, in this case the language itself manifests its own concerns and distresses in order to deepen the vision of the poem collection as a whole.

 Basem Suliman ended his talk with Syriatimes by “There is no doubt that missing humanity in the reality of the war on Syrian, revealed to me the need to defend animals, plants and inanimate objects, the biggest losers in this war. Isn't this a black comedy in the face of the great Syrian tragedy, that my concern in the midst of daily death is defending a grasshopper or an ant? Whether it is realistic or symbolic? There is another thing, defending humanity in the Syrian war has become a charge that everyone accuses of everyone, so as a fearful being, so I get retreat in the forest.” And I couldn’t add a word, I was just listening to the voice of the forest. 

 Interview: Lama Alhassanieh