He started showing strong interest in reading stories in Elementary School, in Damascus, Syria, thanks to the extra rich school library. Then he moved fast trying to imitate and develop these stories by writing something similar. He still remembers how the Essay Class teacher there used to chose his essays to be read in all other classrooms as an example of the ‘Perfect Essay’, and encourage the class to learn from them. He also still remembers one particular teacher who did never believe that he was the real writer of those essays, and wrote to his parents encouraging them to let him depend on himself and to quit writing the essays for him!
His interest in reading continued and increased, and by the time he graduated from High School, he finished reading the best of the worlds literature starting with the English (Dickens, Bronte, Bernard Show, Shakespeare, etc.), and ending with the Russian (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Gorky, Pasternak, etc.), going in between through the French (Dumas, Hugo, Saint Pierre, Vern, etc), and the American (Hemingway, Twain, Mitchell, etc). That was in addition to the jewels of the Arabic literature of stories and novels (The Arabian Nights, Ibn Al- Mukaffa’s Kalila and Dumna, Al-Manfalooty, Taha Husain, Tawfeeq Al-Hakeem, Zachariah Tamer, Abbas Al-Akkad, Mohammad Al-Maghoot, etc.), the old time great poets (Antara, Jareer, Al-Farazdaq, Abu Firras, Al-Mutanabee, Al-Buhturi, Ibn Zadoun, Ibn Al Rumi, etc.) and the modern ones (Nizar Kabbani, Ahmad Shaouqi, Hafez Ibrahim, Al-Jawahiri, Bishara Al-Khoury, Ibrahim Tukan, Ahmad Matar, Al-Shabi, etc.)
During his College Years, he started having more interest than before in poetry and the writing of letters, thoughts and meditation, but everything he wrote was mostly romantic and emotional. He read, during that time, the works of a different kind of writers such as: the French Camus, Moliere and Russo, the Germans Gotha and Nietzsche, the Spanish Cervantes, the Italian Dante, the Greek epic poet Homer, and the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh that still has an unknown author. He also started being interested in the comparative literature.
After several dangerous encounters with the Assad Dictatorship regime, Tarif decided that Syria is not a safe place to live in, and therefore he moved into the US during the Eighties and started his life from scratch. He began paying more attention to the current events of the world, thanks to the free media and journalism. He started rediscovering the valuable lessons history gives to those who are interested in learning and knowing. He started rereading the military campaigns: from Nebuchadnezzar, through Alexander the Great and Hannibal, to those of the Romans and Persians. Then he looked deep into the rise of the Arabs who reached China to the east and Spain to the west, then the campaigns of the Crusaders, the Mongols and those of Bonaparte. He started rereading how and why the Rashid Caliphs, then the Dynasties of the Omayyad’s, Abbacies’, Fatimies, Aoubies, Mamlukies and Ottomans rose to power then vanished. Read how a country like Britain managed to fool the Arabs by pretending to be helping them getting rid of the Ottomans occupation just to occupy their countries, along with France.
Tarif began writing series of Historical Epical Poems in 2008 with ‘Arabic Memories from Abroad’, which talked about the Arab World as one united nation without boundaries or borders. It highlighted the history of the Arabs and sharpened their morals. It was published in different cultural magazines in Damascus, Syria.
Then came the second one, ‘Damascus, the Gate of History’, which analyses the civilization, historic, and touristic importance of his hometown city of Damascus. The poem was recited by him in front of live audience in the Syrian American Club (SAC) in Houston on 05/30/2009, and then was published on the web site of the Syrian Culture Center in Paris, France, and then posted on YouTub and other sites.
After that came the third one, ‘Jerusalem, the Wound of History’, which narrated the series of catastrophes, sufferings, and injustices the city experienced through its long history, and also exposed the religious importance of the city to all the three divine religions. The poem was recited by him in front of live audience in the Arab American Cultural Center (ACC) in Houston on 10/29/2009, and then was published on the web site of the Syrian Culture Center in Paris, France, and then posted on YouTube and other sites. Then came the fourth and last one, ‘Syria Talks about Herself’, which reveals the relation between Syria in one side and History and Civilizations in the other side. The poem was recited by him in front of live audience in Byblos Banquet in Houston on 5/23/2010, and then was published on the web site of the Syrian Ministry of Tourism in Damascus, and then posted on YouTube and other sites. After that, he added more verses to his first poem, ‘Arabic Memories from Abroad’ and recited by him in front of live audience in Al-Ameer Banquet in Houston on 10/20/2020.
He was preparing a new Poetry Event titled ‘Let’s Remember the Giants of the Arabic Poetry of the Twenties’ Century’, but the Arab-Spring Revolutions were faster where the people of five Arab Countries, sick and tired of their dictators, decided to start a Quest for Freedom, Dignity and Democracy.
The Tunisian Revolution started it in 12/17/2010 and ended on 1,14,2011 when the Dictator, Bin Ali, fled the country. Inspired by the Tunisian, the Egyptian Revolution started on 1/25/2011 and ended on 2/11/2011 when the Dictator, Mubarak, resigned. The same day the Egyptian Dictator resigned, 2/11/2011, the Yemeni Revolution started and there was a try to assassinate the Yemeni Dictator, Saleh, who was badly injured, but survived. He finally resigned and left the country on 1/23/2012, leaving a tribal war behind him. Inspired by all that, the Libyan people revolted on 2/17/2011 against their Dictator, Gaddafi, and started the Libyan Revolution. The Dictator was ambushed and killed by the rebels on 10/20/2011while he was trying to flee. Inspired by all that, the Syrian people also decided to follow and they rebelled against their Dictator, Bashar Assad, who inherited power from his father in 2000. The Syrian Revolution started on 3/15/2011. But because of the World political alliances, protocols and crossed interests, and also because of the full scale military interference of Iran and Russia to his side, and finally because of the division of the political and military factions opposing and fighting Assad, he managed to stay in power until now. The price was destroying and dividing the country and turning half of the population of twenty four million into refugees; it became so far the worst humanitarian calamity in the 21st century.
As soon as the Arab Spring Revolutions started, Tarif immediately took their side and documented their events, one after one and step by step, with poems and articles. His first poetry collection book ‘A Journey Around the Arab-Spring Revolutions’ was published both in Arabic and English on 12/2/2014 by Xlibris. His second poetry collection book ‘The Chronicles of the Syrian Revolution’ was published in English on 7/25/2017 also by Xlibris. Both books were edited by R. B. Welsh Sr. The Arabic version of the second book was published on 8/24/2017 by Omagate. These two books unleash the power of Poetry in fighting tyranny, and they are full of metaphor, satire and wit. Omagate also published his short stories book ‘From the Daily Life of a Syrian Citizen’ in Arabic on 10/8/2018. The book narrates 24 stories that he experienced himself under the Dictatorship regime while living in Syria.
Beside his books, Tarif was involved in a lot of related activities. In 2011, he was invited to recite some of his poetry in celebrating the triumphs of both the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions that took place in the Arab American Cultural Center in Houston on 1/23/2011 and 2/14/2011. In 2011 and 2012, he organized three poetry recital events in support of the uprisings in the Middle East. The first one ‘Poetry as a witness to the Revolutions’ took place in the Arab American Cultural Center in Houston on 5/15/2011. The second one ‘The Arab Revolutions in the Eyes of Poetry, Music and Cartoons’ and also took place in the Arab American Cultural Center in Houston four months later on 9/18/2011. The third one ‘The Syrian Revolution in the Eyes of the Arab Poets’ took place in Hotel Indigo Banquet in Houston on 7/8/2012. He also was invited into National Conferences in Detroit on 11/19/2011, Washington DC on 3/17/2012, and Loss Angeles on 6/1/2013, to recite some of his poetry and was introduced as ‘The Poet of the Arabic Revolutions’.
The Syrian Community in Houston established an organization called Texans For Free Syria to support the struggle in the Homeland. They started marching every Sunday in one of Houston most crowded crossing, Westhiemer and Post Oak, holding the Independence flag and photos showing the crimes of the Assad regime against civilians. Tarif participated in these marches every Sunday in 2011 and 2012 and recited poetry.
He was invited by Houston Community College (HCC) to shed lights on what was going on in the Middle East. His first lecture ‘A Journey around the Arab-Spring Revolutions’ took place on 10/17/2012. The second one ‘Why the Syrian Revolution is taking that long’ took place on 4/11/2013. The third one ‘The Arab-Spring; Five Years later’ took place on 4/16/2016. His political works in 8 years exceeds 300 between poems, plays, articles and live events.
Taking a break from political writing, Tarif decided to put a different kind of poetry collection in a new book, and so came ‘Hearts, Tears & the Journey of Life’ on 9/14/2018 by Xlibris in Arabic and English. The book covers three subjects: Love, Lamenting and Meditation, Middle Eastern style, and was rhymed and edited by HHC English Professor J. C. Salazar.
Noticing the negative effects the social media, the smart phones and other electronics are having over the children drew his attention and alarmed him. Therefore Tarif decided not to look the other direction, but to take the initial and do something about it, and that was how his new and first children story book ‘A Tale of Seven Phones’ came to life; it was published on 9/18/2020 by Erin Go Bragh. The book was developed and edited by the award-winning author Kathleen J. Shields and came in four versions: Chapter book for ages 10 to 12, Picture Book and Coloring Book for ages from 7 to 10, E-Book for down load.
Tarif’s poetry in general is Free Style and a kind of Poetic Prose, which does not follow the Arabic poetry rhythms of Al-Faraheedy. It colors paintings where imagination competes with the pictures, rhymes, and meanings; each tries to draw the attention and wins importance. And here comes the word to manage that competition and guarantees an equal chance for all.
All his works including poetry, stories, articles, lectures and presentations are listed on his Google page: https://sites.google.com/site/tarifspoetry/
Also visit www.AuthorAgha.com
Houston / Texas