Poetic Portraits of a Revolution

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WUNC / WUNC

In a month filled with tragedy, how do we make sense of it all? This week on the podcast, we use a poetic lens to try and find meaning within conflict.

In episode three, we follow Farris Barakat to Reyhanli, Turkey where he is working to complete his brother's mission and help Syrian refugee kids smile. 

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  Stories with a Heartbeat is a new podcast hosted by poet Will McInerney that explores the human condition in conflict through poetry, listening, and conversation.

In episode two, host Will McInerney talks with reporter Reema Khrais about her personal connections to the Chapel Hill Shootings, and Will travels to the Syrian border to visit a dental clinic named in honor of Deah, Yusor, and Razan. 

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In episode one, host Will McInerney talks with Farris Barakat about the night his brother Deah was killed along with Deah's wife Yusor Abu-Salha and sister-in-law Razan Abu-Salha. All three Muslim-Americans were shot execution style in their home. 

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A hand made sign in Turkey
Will McInerney

On February 10, Razan Abu-Salha, her sister Yusor Abu-Salha and Yusor's husband Deah Barakat were shot and killed in their home in Chapel Hill. Deah and Yusor were both preparing to be dentists and felt called to help Syrian refugees in need of dental care.

Chapel Hill Poet Will McInerney and Mike Mallah are traveling in the Middle East this month documenting the work of the Syrian American Medical Society.  He sent us this postcard.  It's part of a project called Stories with a Heartbeat.

The Chapel Hill Shootings Resonate In Poetry

Mar 16, 2015
Fidaa Abu Roob, photo by Will McInerney
Will McInerney photo

It's been a month since news broke that three young Muslims were shot to death in Chapel Hill.   For poet Will McInerney, it hit especially hard.  He’s from Chapel Hill, knew the victims through friends, and like many, has been trying to sort it out.  

This month Will McInerney and translator Mike Mallah are traveling across the Middle East and working with the Syrian American Medical Society and the Palestine Children's Relief Fund. Their project, Stories with a Heartbeat, documents the work of medical NGO's through creative storytelling and photography. 

He sent us this Poetic reflection on what it's like to be in the region and say: "I'm from Chapel Hill."


Three young poets traveled to Egypt and Tunisia last summer to document the revolutions sweeping the countries. They came back with a series of spoken-word pieces called "Poetic Portraits of a Revolution" that aired on WUNC in 2011. Those pieces have now become a stage show at the Carrboro ArtsCenter. Host Frank Stasio talks to Kane Smego and Will McInerney, the writers and poets that produced the play, and Joseph Megel, the director of “Poetic Portraits of a Revolution” on stage.

Will McInerney, Kane Smego, Mohammad Moussa, and Sameer Abdel-Khalek spent the last two months traveling, writing, interviewing, and photographing the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. Now they're back.  And be sure to visit their blog.

We check in one more time with the poets we've been following as they travel in Egypt and Tunisia this summer. Will McInerney, Mohammad Moussa, Kane Smego and photographer Sameer Abdel-khalek have been in North Africa for the past two months. They come home next week. Their final few days overseas happens to coincide with the start of the holy month or Ramadan. That's what inspired this latest Poetic Portrait of a Revolution.

The poets we've been following this summer are in Tunisia right now. This weekend Will McInerney, Mohammad Moussa, Kane Smego and photographer Sameer Abdel-khalek are travelling from their homebase in Tunis to more rural areas to get a different perspective on the Arab Summer. Before they left, they met a young woman named Ayya. She inspired this latest Poetic Portrait of a Revolution.

Sameer Abdel-khalek

The three young poets we're following on Morning Edition this summer are continuing their Poetic Portraits of a Revolution project in Tunisia after their sojourn in Egypt. Much of the world's attention is focused elsewhere now. But Will McInerney, Mohammad Moussa, Kane Smego and photographer Sameer Abdel-khalek are finding that, as in Egypt, the Tunisian revolution is not over.

Sameer Abdel-khalek
Sameer Abdel-khalek

The three young poets we're following this summer left Egypt this week. Will McInerney, Mohammad Moussa, Kane Smego and photographer Sameer Abdel-khalek are moving on to Tunisia as a part of the project Poetic Portraits of a Revolution. Before moving out of their apartment in Cairo, they sent us this poetic reflection on their final days in Egypt.

Sameer Abdel-khalek
Sameer Abdel-khalek

The Arab Spring that erupted in North Africa has turned to summer. The revolution is still being sorted out in the streets of Cairo. In the days leading up the the Fourth of July here in the states, the poets we've been following Fridays on Morning Edition witnessed a demonstration turned riot in Tahrir Square. Kane Smego, Will McInerney, Mohammad Moussa and Sameer Abdel-khalek sent us this Poetic Portrait of a Revolution.

From left to right: Kane Smego, Mohammad Moussa, an Egyptian citizen named Moussa, Will McInerney, photographer Sameer Abdel-khalek
Sameer Abdek Khalek

This summer on Morning Edition, we're keeping tabs on three young poets and a photographer as they travel through North Africa. Kane Smego, Mohammad Moussa and Will McInerney are in their early 20's and are from the Triangle. Right now, they're in Cairo. During the day, they're out taking pictures and talking to people, trying to get a sense of the revolution that's still settling in Egypt. At night, they write as a part of a summer-long project they're calling Poetic Portraits of a Revolution.

From left to right: Mohammad Moussa, Will McInerney, Kane Smego, and photographer Sameer Abdel-khalek
Sameer Abdel-khalek

Three young poets from Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill landed in Cairo a few days ago. They're travelling in Egypt and Tunisia with a photographer friend for a project they're calling Poetic Portraits of a Revolution. With borrowed microphones and money donated by friends, family and community groups they set out to see and hear for themselves what a revolution looks like. Along the way, they promised to send back short poetic reflections on their experience.  Kane Smego, Will McInerney and Mohammad Moussa present this first installment of Poetic Portraits of a Revolution from their journey to North Africa.